Saturday, January 20, 2018

Right Desire and True Gospel

From The Living Church-

As the Episcopal Church approaches the daunting task of liturgical revision, it would be good beforehand to revisit the theological vision that birthed our prayer book tradition as a distinctive branch of Christian worship. While Thomas Cranmer insisted that Anglican liturgy must be regularly renewed so as always to speak to contemporary society, he was equally adamant that the gospel message transcended any specific cultural moment, remaining consistent through the many centuries after Jesus’ initial proclamation of it. Hence, Cranmer believed that he and other liturgical revisers had much to learn from how previous generations used worship to proclaim the mission of the Church to the people of their day. As we continue to adapt his handiwork to contemporary needs, we would be well advised to follow his example in learning from the past to better lead the present into the future.

The heart of Tudor Protestantism was not right doctrine but right desire. Undoubtedly, Cranmer and his fellow English Reformers thought the two were closely connected. Truth about God would draw humanity homeward. Right desire could only be formed by right knowledge of both God and fallen human nature. Nevertheless, saving truth by itself was insufficient to move a self-centered humanity to return to the Creator through repentance and amendment of life. The Church’s mission was to proclaim the unchanging message of the gospel to each generation in ways that would move the hearts of hearers to embrace it. Here is the raison d’ĂȘtre of Cranmer’s liturgical revision.

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