The Book of Common Prayer in Modern Reformation

In the latest issue of Modern Reformation, Lee Gatiss has a nice article on “The Book of Common Prayer” (see here for an on-line view if you have a subscription). Gatiss writes:

The BCP is a prayer book, a service book, a book to aid us in our worship of the one true and living God. It’s a book to live, love, and die by – for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. It’s a book designed to fill us with awe and reverence as we participate in its rituals and regularities. It’s not an evangelistic tract to be read out to a congregation every Sunday. It’s more than that. But it has a sharp mission edge. It’s carefully put together to teach the gospel and to reach people’s hearts with the message of salvation. Its much-praised eloquence is all in the service of an impassioned plea to trust, obey, and please the Lord Jesus who died for his family, the church. So it’s not a stuffy old book for stuff old people. It’s a way to reach liturgical people with the good news of Jesus.

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  • Ian Paul

    Except that 90% of the UK population cannot understand it! I love the theology of the BCP, but this is a teeny obstacle to its mission effectiveness.

    • William Barto

      Thanks for your observation, Ian. I do not contest your assertion, but I don’t think that the BCP stands alone as a missional tool. Rather than dumb its beautiful text down any further, the priest must incorporate it in his preaching and teaching, parish education efforts should explain its use, and individuals encouraged to make it their own prayer book. Wouldn’t this help some of what you’re describing?

      • Ian Paul

        Not when the average reading age in the UK is 13. It needs a radical rethink–the culture of the church is so far from the culture of most people in Britain.