Reformed Worship (VI): a word to our Anglican brothers...

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(NOTE: This is the sixth post in a series on Reformed worship. Here are the firstsecondthirdfourth, and fifth.)

Pastor Roger du Barry serves Saint James Reformed Church in Alton. England. His is an independent Anglican congregation holding to the the historic Church of England doctrine and Book of Common Prayer liturgy rather than the historic Geneva/Westminster Reformed doctrine and Directory for Public Worship liturgy. With some pertinacity, in comments under these posts on worship Pastor du Barry has been asking me to defend my proposition that set forms of prayer (read prayer) is not "Spirit led."

But of course, I can't defend it because I don't think it and haven't said it. Here's my response to Pastor du Barry... 

Roger du Barry wrote: "I am keen to learn where in the Bible extempore means Spirit led, while set prayers are not. Still waiting on that one."

Dear Roger,

No one has said set prayers are not Spirit-led. Here at Clearnote Church, Bloomington, we use set prayers in our worship, as I've repeatedly said. But we do not regulate our worship by the Book of Common Prayer's highly regulated liturgy and Covenant Renewal Worship's flow chart.

The point I am emphasizing is that Reformed pastors should not turn their backs on Reformed worship, abandoning it for the rigid strictures and formalism of historic Book of Common Prayer Anglican/Episcopal worship as Jeff Meyers has rejiggered it under the name Covenant Renewal Worship.

My argument is not with you and Father Bill, although I know your argument is with me. Or, I should say, your arguments are with five centuries of Reformed fathers who have bequeathed to us the principles of Reformed worship. So why are my arguments not with you and Father Bill?

Because I respect you men and have little heart to redirect you from (independent) Anglicanism into the Reformed church. What I want is to defend the Reformed church against Trojan horses like Covenant Renewal Worship and its sacerdotalism clomped on to Lutheran soteriology and sacramentalism.

As I've reminded readers a number of times through the years, a wise scholar once observed that, across church history, there's an inverse correlation between formalistic liturgy and preaching. Historically speaking, an increased emphasis on preaching leads to a decreased emphasis on formal liturgy, whereas an increased emphasis on formal liturgy leads to a decreased emphasis on preaching. We're seeing that today among Covenant Renewal Men bragging about switching to "homilies" and how they are shortening their sermons.

You and Father Bill are, as I see it, the exceptions that prove the rule. And highly esteemed brothers despite our significant doctrinal and liturgical differences.


Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!