The only side of history that matters

I have been, at various times, an Anglo-Catholic, a Tridentine Romanist, and an Evangelical Anglican. Interestingly, my core belief in the substitutionary atonement and propitiatory sacrifice of Christ on the cross was the one constant, the one evangel.

This leads me to say that “evangelical” is a theology and not a good way to describe worship or even politics. But for many that’s all the word means.

That’s one reason I’m looking forward to next year’s EFAC-USA conference in Nashville. The topic is worship. Is there a distinctive way Evangelical Anglicans should worship? If that’s true, does it throw us back on the old catholic notion of lex orandi, lex credendi? And from there are we only a stone’s throw from chanting the mass?

“To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant,” Newman said cleverly, likely because he knew very well that history springs from the original evangel, that history is all about being evangelical, and that history will culminate in the destruction of all false gospels along with their works (see discussion of neutrality in Bulletin No. 2).

To be Protestant is to be evangelical, and to be on the only side of history that matters.

But the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, and so I believe there ought to be a God-honoring, biblical way to keep it. That’s one reason why I’m excited by the International Book of Common Prayer project. It’s another reason I am grateful to be vicar of a parish that, if not calling itself evangelical, is still Morning Prayer three Sundays a month and doesn’t even know about Rite 2—and I won’t be telling them.

Why? Because the old paths were evangelical, and because they were, they became Protestant, and by doing so, they went back to the living source, ad fontes, to the very Word Himself.

Am I right, or do I still possess the ossified mentality of a ritualist with a penchant for preaching in a black scarf? Join me next June in Nashville and we’ll discuss it.

Jake Dell is a member of the EFAC-USA Board and the vicar of St. Peter’s, Lithgow, New York.

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