Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why the Big Fuss about 1549?

This week past saw the 461st anniversary of the First BCP, that of 1549. It was used for a mere three years and five months before being replaced by that of 1552, which in all essential respects, is the one still used by the Church of England today. At least, in the odd places that have nt substituted "Comic Washup" - oops, I mean, Common Worship!

Whilst the anniversary is an important one, I do not quite understand the modern Anglo-Catholic enthusiasm for it. For a start, if they think that Cranmer's 1549 BCP allows more mediaeval teachings about the Eucharist than its successor then they are mistaken, it is just as clear in its repudiation of mediaeval Eucharistic theology as its successor. On the other land, the 1549's structure is more traditional; more obviously derived from the Sarum Missal, which preceded it. Its real strength, from the Anglo-Papalist point of view, is that the 1549 BCP can be more successfully "spun" than its successors, as Cranmer himself soon realised.

This brings me to what is now a half forgotten controversy - that between Stephen Gardiner, the Henrician Catholic Bishop of Winchester, and Cranmer himself about Eucharistic doctrine. This developed into a pamphleteering slug-fest that occupied the leaders of both the conservative and reforming factions of the Church of England throughout 1550 and 1551. Gardiner saw the 1549 as being capable of traditional interpretation, accepting the BCP whilst pushing the mediaeval Catholic doctrines of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass. Cranmer, nettled firstly by what he saw as Gardiner's erroneous doctrine, and secondly, by his "bending" of Cranmer's own BCP to support his teaching, delivered a weighty defense of the Reformed Eucharistic doctrine.

The early English Reformed doctrine of the "true Presence" was based on the writings of Ratramnus - a ninth century monk of Corbie - via Nicholas Ridley, and emphasized the presence of Christ in the Supper, at the expense of his presence in the elements. Also, pushed onwards by the (mainly) constructive criticism of his Reformed colleagues, Cranmer also began to prepare a revision of the Book of Common Prayer. This appeared at All Saintstide 1552 and gave more explicit litugical form to Cranmer's Eucharistic theology.

McCullough in his biography of Cranmer, argues convincingly that the 1549 was meant to be transitional. However, I still suspect that its replacement's preparation was accelerated partly because of the controversy with Gardiner, and possibly because of Edward VI's declining health. One thing that is very prominent in the second book of 1552 is revised structure of the Communion service. Gone is the quasi-traditional structure of the 1549, and in its place comes a service which is clearly focussed on the act of Communion - to the point of actual interupting the Eucharistic Canon so that priest and people can receive. Whilst this layout is highly unorthodoxy liturgically, it is extremely effective at a service at which most of the congregation receives Communion. Hearing the prayer of Oblation after Communion having received the gifts, and with the elements on the altar table, makes one acutely aware of being both a partaker of the offering and also of being offered as part of the "reasonable, holy and living sacrifice." Cranmer's doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice, rather than being absent as some reason, took the form of the Eucharist being a memorial of the one perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice, and also an offering up as ourselves and our lives, sanctified by Christ's sacramental Body and Blood, as a sacrifice to God. This offering of "ourselves, our souls and bodies" is the response of faith-filled hearts to the love of Christ.

The two subsequent English BCPs - 1559 and 1662 - retained the 1552 as their basis, but introduced more traditional wording and ceremonial. The 1559 prefixed the 1552 words of administration with the traditional "The Body (Blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life," and allowed the use of the traditional Eucharistic vestments and wafer bread. The 1662 revision reintroduced the offertory with both the alms and the bread and wine being presented at the altar. In Ireland, where the 1926 revision of the BCP chose to retain the 1552/1662 form of the Communion service, a further restoration takes place in the form of a rubric allowing both the prayers of Oblation and Thanksgiving to be said after Communion. This approach was also adopted by Archbishops Fisher and Garbett in their "Shorter Prayer Book" of 1948. These revisions served to balance the Memorial, Communion, and Sacrifical elements of the BCP Commnion rite.

Apart from a few Anglo-Catholic parishes and the odd historical reenactment, 1549 remained pretty much a dead letter. However, 1549 did influence the Scottish BCP of 1637, the "Durham Book" revision of 1661, and the eighteenth century Non-Juror revisions where it plays second fiddle to Eastern Orthodox influences. However, inspite of having received a decent burial in the archives, it was exhumed in 1949 just in time for the liturgical revisions of the 1960s, and the controversies of the 1970s.

As a result, it found its way into the Affirmation of St Louis, perhaps as part of the "Anglo-Catholic Ecumenicism" that also led to the seven councils and seven sacraments provisions in that document. Perhaps it was felt that it might be more acceptable in some future reproachement with Orthodoxy than 1662 or 1928, but in truth, Western Rie Orthodoxy has tended to work from the American BCP or the Non-Juror Liturgy of 1712.

I cannot help thinking that the "canonizing" of the 1549 BCP alongside the American 1928, which embodies both the Scottish and Anglo-Irish traditions whilst favouring the former, and the Canadian 1962, which also compromises between the Scottish and Anglo-Irish traditions whilst favouring with the latter, was yet another piece of invisible mending intended to force the Continuing Movement into a "Catholic restorationalist" path than maintaining Classical Anglican/Caroline High Church line of development. It would certainly have been more in line with the historical mainstream of Anglicanism to have "canonized" the 1662 BCP, or, if the Black Rubric really is that much of a problem and not just a shibboleth, the 1559 version of the same. Certainly, the adoption of the 1549 BCP had the effect of shutting the door of the Continuing Church Movement to mainstream Anglican Evangelicals, as well as proving to be an unwelcome additional burden to those of us who hold to the Caroline tradition.

Let me be clear, I am not proposing that we repudiate the Affirmation of St Louis, I am suggesting that we see it for what it truly is, a flawed document. The Affirmation both successfully defines the central points of Continuing Anglican Movement by repudiating the modernist errors that destroyed ECUSA, but also attempts to redefine the Anglican tradition by embracing mediaeval Catholic elements rejected at the Reformation and by the Caroline Divines. In choosing to retain subscription to the 1928 Book Of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion, the United Episcopal Church of North America returned to something close to the tradition Church of England (and for that matter, Ireland) manner of defining itself. I also believe it may also have been a tacit protest against the revisionist elements within the Affirmation of St Louis.


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  3. Maybe, Peter. But the point remains that the theology of Cranmer was closer to Zwingli and Calvin than to the Lutherans on the sacraments.

    Also, Cranmer's soteriology is Augustinian and Calvinist and not Arminian. Articles 9-18 shoot down any Laudian view.


  4. Hello Charlie,

    But don't articles 9, 11-13, and especially 17 sort of equally frustrate Arminians? It's not easy to reconcile 17 with 16, and I think we are forced to admit a bit of mystery here. Reading Henry's 1543 Necessary Doctrine stuck firmly to Augustinian categories, and when this mystery was pushed, the catechism pointed to the sacraments and promises attached. It seems the Anglican position is more informed by pastoral care than something systematic. If someone insists, however, upon a logical definition, I'd venture Amyraldism closer to the Articles than the others. We should also keep in mind the Arminianism of Jacob was not identical to the Remonstrants-- Jacob being closer to Calvin on perseverance. So, I guess, there are a range of Arminian views, just as we might have important differences between infra and supralapsarian Calvinists. There are also catholic Jansenites in France. These groupings too often get unthoughtfully lumped together. Lastly, if the calvinist view was plain in the Articles, Whitgift would not have pushed Lambeth Articles. What is really interesting was despite differences between Calvinists and Arminians, the Arminians usually took the 'comprehensive' side, sic., it was the calvinist who protested unity with Arminians in the Methodist societies. Methodist articles and rules were drawn to retain both views, and Wesley did not consider the fine-points soteriology as much as 'holy living' and conversion of the heart as crucial. That said, I understand the calvinist discomfort with certain views which apparently give headway to incipient humanism.
    sincerely, charles

  5. @AnglicanRose:

    Sorry but reading Amyraldianism back into the Articles is anachronistic since the Amyraldian view did not exist until well after the Articles were established in 1552 or so.

    Furthermore, there is no contradiction between 16 and 17. There is not a Calvinist alive who would deny that it is possible to fall from grace temporarily. That is, the grace of sanctification. Election can never be lost.

    The fact that some of the writings of the English Reformers reflect a loss of "election" merely shows a pastoral concern and not that eternal election itself is lost.

    I might add that Luther's view is not Amyraldian and neither would Cranmer's view fit that description since he was influenced by the Puritans and by the Lutherans. Again, you would be hard pressed to prove that Cranmer was an Amyraldian. Let's not forget that the 42 Articles were the basis for the 39 Articles and Cranmer's theology was retained.

    You might want to consult Ashley Null's book on Cranmer's doctrine of repentance. Null shows clearly that Cranmer would have rejected any idea that salvation could be finally lost, although he would have agreed that it would be possible to fall temporarily into grievous sins. Cranmer forced recantation and then his reversal before being burned at the stake is a good example of this.

    The Canons of Dort were sealed in 1618-19 and would have been familiar to the English Reformers after Cranmer's demise.

    Regardless, the point is that the Calvinist view is the most consistent with the authority of Scripture and said view is not refuted or contradicted in the Articles whatsoever.

    I would find it odd that Cranmer ever intended Arminianism or Amyraldianism in the Articles, particularly when I am almost positive that Cranmer would have read Luther's Bondage of the Will.


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  7. "Sect. 9.—THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. But, however, before I establish this point by any arguments of my own, and by the authority of Scripture, I will first set it forth in your words.

    Are you not then the person, friend Erasmus, who just now asserted, that God is by nature just, and by nature most merciful? If this be true, does it not follow that He is immutably just and merciful? That, as His nature is not changed to all eternity, so neither His justice nor His mercy? And what is said concerning His justice and His mercy, must be said also concerning His knowledge, His wisdom, His goodness, His will, and His other Attributes. If therefore these things are asserted religiously, piously, and wholesomely concerning God, as you say yourself, what has come to you, that, contrary to your own self, you now assert, that it is irreligious, curious, and vain, to say, that God foreknows of necessity? You openly declare that the immutable will of God is to be known, but you forbid the knowledge of His immutable prescience. Do you believe that He foreknows against His will, or that He wills in ignorance? If then, He foreknows, willing, His will is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so: and, if He wills, foreknowing, His knowledge is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so."

    Semi-pelagianism is unequivocally condemned by the Lutherans and by the English and Swiss Reformers.


  8. Hello Charlie,

    "Sorry but reading Amyraldianism back into the Articles is anachronistic since the Amyraldian view did not exist until well after the Articles were established in 1552 or so."

    No. I would advise reading the Henrician catechisms first. Unfortunately, 'reading back' into the articles is what both Calvinists and Arminians do. One part of apologetics is giving an answer when pressed. If people wish to make the articles more systematic than they allot, then I would say Amyarld is closer than either Arminius or Calvin. But I'd prefer for people to read the earlier catechisms, take the articles at face value, and if compelled, interpreting them through earlier Anglican, authoritative writings. I don't see a five point calvinism in the articles anymore than I see a Remonstrant Arminianism. There is a theological thread based on justification throughout, but they remain elusive of both Arminianism and Calvinism as conventionally understood.

  9. I am not quite sure how we got from wittering about the Carolines and the Anglo-Catholics to this, however, seems as we are here...
    A good friend of mine has always said that the Via Media Anglicana was between Lutheranism and Calvinism, and my own reading has tended to confirm this.

    As I read it Cranmers' views on the Lord's Supper are definitely Reformed. He has something in common with Zwingli, but more with Calvin and Bucer. Most of his Protestant successors - Parker and Whitgift, for example - were far closer to the strict Receptionism of early Calvinism, than to a looser view.

    I cannot help thinking reviewing the language used about Baptism and Predestination that in the Articles set forth a moderate Reformed views that does not shut the door decisively to either Calvin or Luther on these points. Just as a point of reference, the Thirty-nine Articles are far closer in language to the Scots Confession of 1560 than they are to the later Westminster Confession.

    The trouble is that with subscription to the Articles being on the basis that they "contain nothing contrary to Scripture" divergent views grew up. Caroline Arminianism, and Tillotsonian Latitudinarianism. Both represent departure away from the original Via Media between Luther and Calvin.

    Certainly in their original context, the Articles are "big-R" Reformed, and clearly capable of a Calvinist interpretation. I think the bulk of Anglican clergy etween 1560 and 1660 would have been mild Calvinists. It is only after 1660 that the Caroline Divines build up a considerable following, and even then, there were significant High Church Calvinists, such as George Morle on the Episcopal bench.

    I do not think it is legitimate for an Anglican bishop to refuse ordination to any candidate for the Ministry who professes Reformed/Calvinist views. Certainly, a moderate Reformed theology has been mainstream within Anglicanism from its inception until recent times. Certainly most of the Evangelical Anglican I knew growing up were moderate Calvinists, and they felt that their theology was the one that best accorded with the Articles. One of the great disasters for the Continuing Anglican movements has been that being at its inception an American Movement, t has since its earliest days ignored, misunderstood, or rejected Evangelical Anglicanism, which, outside of the USA, account for 40% of Anglicans in the developed world and 80% in Africa and South America.

  10. The so-called "moderate" Calvinism is a heresy condemned by the Formula Consensus Helvitica--and for good reason.... It is nothing more than a modified form of Arminianism.


  11. I tidied things up a bit to keep the comments on the main thread which seems to be about Calvinism not the post above. I have also temporarily put comments on moderated status so that the debate does not disappear up its own exhaust.


  12. Sorry Bishop Peter. It's easy to get carried away.

    Anglicanism does seem a via media between the calvinistic swiss and Lutheran germans. I'm taking a wild guess that Bucer and Melanchthon can be found trying to occupy a center position amidst disputations, conferences, and symposiums of that period, and I'm thinking Cranmer was found somewhere nearby.

    If forced to look at the continental reformation, Bucer perhaps is that 'high calvinist' (signing the Wittenburg Concord)while Melanchthon adds that moderate treatment of soteriology alongside a 'high virtualism'in sacrament. Even Calvin signed Melanchthon's Variata,1540 AD, indicating a higher sacramental view than often attributed. While Luther was disliked by the Crown for his unkind 1522 public railing Henry, Melanchthon alongside Erasmus were loved. We know Bucer's vein of influence through Cranmer.

    I try to keep in mind there was common resonancy on controversial matters even between Swiss and German Reformers. What I think is brilliant about England's reformation was it successfully articulated a larger Protestant 'center' without innovating from antiquity, avoiding more dogmatic points that had neither precedent nor scriptural warrant. Bucer and Melanchthon are favorite continental saints.

  13. Please let me digress to the topic of the post. Did not many, if not most, of the Caroline Divines that expressed a view on the matter indicate a preference for the 1549 (though without any design of reading it into the Medieval Latin theology confirmed at Trent)?

  14. As to the whether the Articles have any relationship to Calvinism whatsoever, I would have thought that Edward Harold Brown and E.J. Bicknell, in their excellent expositions, had put down that post-Glorious Revolution, comprehensionist, Latitudinarian, and revisionist calumny!

  15. Finally, thanks you Bishop Robinson for pointing out both the strengths and weaknesses of the Affirmation of St. Louis.

  16. hi Bp. Peter,

    delete that last one. Though I enjoyed writing it and do love Melanchthon and Bucer, it's unnecessary and eggs on Charlie. We've continued a similar conversation at my blog. Thanks.

  17. @ -peter

    You censored unsavory observations that point to the silliness of your self-righteous vanities.

    Your costume looks impressive to fools but to those of us in the know you look like an idiot pretending to be somebody.

    The fact is a plow boy knows more about the Bible than you do.


  18. So much for Christian love (agape). What is Anglicanism comes more from Elizabeth I than Cranmer. Her man for defining the Anglican Faith and Practice was Richard Hooker. Reformed but Catholic; Catholic but Reformed.

  19. I am with Father David here. It is clear that when the prayer book was revived under Elizabeth that the changes made moved it a very great deal away from the views of Cranmer and Co. I would expand Father David's list to include Bishop Jewel who was Hooker's patron and mentor, Lancelot Andrewes and eventually Farrar and Herbert.

    My view of 1549 is that liturgically it is largely a monologue as is the Roman canon. That may be tolerable when the service is in Latin and may be read through at blinding speed, but it doesn't work so well when it is in a language which the congregation understands and speaks. Both have eaten the prayers of the people and consequently fail at meeting any conformity to Justin Martyr's description of Christian worship at the middle of the second century.

    There was too much not known about the earliest Church at the time of the reformation, but the English Church made much better guesses than any of the continentals. And they were helped along by the scholarship of both the English and Scots non-jurors.

    One of the major problems with St Louis (and I was there) is that those who wrote the Affirmation were not professional scholars and theologians and were forced into some positions to bring along enough priests to actually continue the sacraments. And unfortunately, of those chosen to be the first bishops in the continuum, three out of the four were nut jobs. That won't make me any friends, but I knew them only too well both before and after. We could probably have done better, but we were in as much hurry as Moses and his crowd trying to get out of Egypt.

  20. Dear +Peter,

    I always look forward to your very thoughtful, very prayerful articles! They always challenge me to think!

    I'm not sure what you meant by this, though, about the Affirmation of St. Louis:

    "attempts to redefine the Anglican tradition by embracing mediaeval Catholic elements rejected at the Reformation and by the Caroline Divines."

    I've re-read the Affirmation several times - how does it do what you say? Or is it our application of the Affirmation that you refer to?

    Thank you, and God bless you.


  21. When considering the attitude of High Churchmem to the 1552/8/1662 Rite as against that of 1549 might I draw your attention to Bishop Cosin, who tells us that Bishop Overall ( and also one suspects Cosin himself and others ) always added, as I do myself, the Prayer of Oblation to the Prayer of Consecration?