Friday, March 27, 2015

Justification for the Term: "Reformed Prayer Book Churchmanship"

Our Facebook forum's name is justified, to wit, Reformed Prayer Book Churchmanship. We operate at:

A few notes, divagations, miscellanies and imperfect musings from Bromiley, G.W. Thomas Cranmer: Archbishop and Martyr. London: Church Book Room Press, 1956. Pages 84ff.

The 1549 BCP “had not commended itself to either the reactionaries or reformers.” Gardiner illustrated the “traditionalist reading,” an effort at eisegesis. It stung Cranmer to have a Romish reactionary claiming he could "read in" his own views. Although, on Prof. MacCulloch's take, Cranmer saw the two books as a unity, but he was stung that he had not foreclosed the possibility of Romish eisegesis.

Re: the 1552 BCP. “Drastic changes were made in the communion service.” The new 1552 BCP was “definitely calculated to validate the Reformed as against the traditional or for that matter the Lutheran view” (Gasquet and Bishop, 289). Bromiley will repeat this assertion several times.

Bucer and Martyr stressed the need for reform of the 1549 BCP.

Bucer issued a “detailed critique” (Pollard, 271-272).

Some felt the 1552 BCP was “foreign rather than an English work” (Deane, 207). Bromiley calls this an “absurd exaggeration.” Cranmer and Ridley and “all the more prominent reformers…they were convinced of the need for revision.” The changes coincided with Bucer. They incorporated “independent criticisms as they own policy.” But it was "their" policy.

The 1552 BCP was mainly Cranmer's and Ridley's.

The new book was not submitted to Convocation but accepted/passed by a “new Act of Uniformity in 1552.” Penalties were threatened against “the great number of people in divers parts of the realm” who “did willfully and damnably…refuse to come to the parish churches” (Pollard, Cranmer, 225).

But, before publication, the “runagate Scot” as Bromiley calls him (oh! oh!), John Knox, attacked the kneeling at communion rubric. In view of the attack, the Council “suspended printing” and asked Cranmer to consult with Ridley and Martyr.

Cranmer counter-protested that the Parliament had accepted the rubric of kneeling for reception of the elements.
Cranmer wittily disarmed the less learned "runagate Scot." Cranmer countered: if Scripture did not command kneeling, it didn’t command “sitting or standing” either. Or, for that matter, since the disciples were "reclining" at the Supper, on Knox's view, the congregation should be prostrate or lay on the floor. Sensible people got the point. But, Knox had also scored an important point as well.

But the Council did not pass it, but rather inserted the black rubric as a “safeguard” against any thought of the “adoration of Christ in the elements.” (Omitted in the 1559 BCP, it was reinserted in the 1662 BCP, again, making it a Reformed document and not Lutheran, Tractarian or Roman.)

This is extremely important. It is an important issue because (1) of the Romanish “wafer-gods,” (2) Lutheran ubiquitarianism, (3) the very practical proclivity to idolatry of the elements and (4) the potency of the priestly magicians at the Consecration [think of Laud at Winchester, for example, but we exceed Bromiley's treatment and digress].

The 1552 BCP appeared in autumn 1552.

It went through several editions “but can hardly have come into sufficiently general use to exercise its full influence at the time.”
Nonetheless, it laid a pattern for the Church of England for the years to come. Cranmer would die, perhaps never believing his work would survive.  Perhaps, that it would forever be reversed. He could not have known that the opposite would obtain--a Reformed and Protestant Prayer Book until the days of Laudian reversals and arrogances.


(1) 2 sacraments and occasional offices. A “break” with the medieval services.

(2) Emphasis on “underlying Protestant doctrine.”

(3) Baptism—ancient ceremonies were abandoned “apart from the sign of the cross.” Consecration of the water = simple dedication. Trine immersion became single immersion.

(4) Confirmation was a “confession of faith and prayer for endowment of the Holy Spirit.”

(5) Private, auricular confession was abandoned and a “penitential introduction was prefixed to morning and evening prayer.”

(6) The 1550 Ordinal was revised and “objectionable features were eliminated,” including "massing vestments."

(7) The “most serious changes” were to the communion office. “Everything possible was done to make it clear that the service did not teach a real presence in the medieval or Lutheran sense. Right at the outset the mass vestments were forbidden.” The minister was to be at the northward end of the “table” (not “altar”). Remember, Ridley had made the "table" changes going back to 1550 and personally supervised the changes at St. Paul's, London. Ordinary bread was used and “…all forms of reservation were forbidden.” Cranmer: “not even a superficial likeness” to Mass remained. The Kyrie Eleison was put to a new use. The Gloria—“which previously heralded the coming of Christ” was now a thanksgiving escorted to the end. The Agnus Dei and “Blessed is he that cometh” was omitted because it might “easily be taken to imply the doctrine of substantial presence” “Take and eat this.” “Drink this” was altered. The Prayer of Consecration had a new emphasis on “the sole-sufficiency of the one offering of Christ.” Also, “to exclude any possible suggestion of prayers for the dead, there was not even a commemoration of the departed.” The 1552 BCP did not remain “long in use” but “has had a very considerable historical importance.” “It marks a definite movement to the Reformed as opposed to the Lutheran view, not only in doctrine but also in the practical construction of worship.” This was a “decisive break with traditionalists and the end of any possibility of compromise.”

The point: Lutherans and/or traditionalists NOW “would have to read it in.” Both were precluded and excluded. That is exactly what reactionary Tractarians and some others have tried to do--that is, read their views "into" the formularies--but this is done illegitimately. This is a Protestant and Reformed Prayer book.

Bromiley again has it: only a “Reformed understanding can be deduced form the form and wording of the service on a plain and straightforward reading.” The 1552 was the basis of “subsequent slight revisions in the 1559 and 1604” and the “mostly superficial emendment in the 1662.” Same today (pre-1980s). 

BOTTOMLINE:  “Same underlying doctrine, identifying the Church of English with the Reformed family of churches. “To have given the Church a reformed Prayer Book as well as an English Bible was no mean achievement.”

So, yes, we have an excellent name for this Facebook forum, notwithstanding reactionary deviations or deviant reactions to Reformed theology.

And Bromiley is just talking about the Reformed Prayer Book. He doesn't do very much with the 42 Articles or the Homilies, but that is for another day.

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