For many years Philosophy was almost considered in the same light as a dirty word by many Christians, due to the fact that many of the early Philosophers held atheistic views and spent great tracts of their time trying to disprove the very existence of God, and debunking the miraculous acts performed by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. But with the advent of Christian Philosophy, we are now better equipped to understand and get closer to God’s divine plan for human life.
Christian Philosophy is a way of life. It involves the reason for human life, why human life was created and sustained by God and nourished by His Spirit, and lastly, where our human life is destined to lead us in the future.
The word life by which Christianity is denominated is interpreted by its profound and expansive usage as promoted and detailed by the Apostle John on his Gospel where we read these words
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of thr Father, full of grace and truth”.
This is the true life that mankind must adopt. Its acceptance by humanity makes Christianity to be a Philosophy of life. It is our emulation and living that particular life that enlightens us with unlimited truth and in an inseparable way it unites us with the personality and the bodily presence of Christ Jesus.
A brief but complete statement of what we as Christians firmly believe to be the foundations on which our faith is established.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Holy Catholic Church, The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting. Amen.
The Apostle Paul gave us an example, which he himself and all God’s people should follow. He said “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” This is the first principal of Christianity. It is the perfect example that we should all be followers in our manner of life and in setting our standards of conduct. The individual who is centre stage to the whole issue is Christ Jesus. No one can improve on the principles of life that governed the whole behaviour of Christ. We are told that He pleased the Father in ALL THINGS that He did, and we are commanded to devote our way of living along a similar path that is constantly glorifying God and Christ Jesus. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”. So, the life that each of us should lead, should be the same type of life that existed in Christ Jesus. By walking in that path, we will be promoting and exercising proper principals of life that will be well pleasing to our Father in heaven. Their application is not a religion of outward devotions that embrace ritualistic manoeuvres within a mere physical environment. They go much farther than that. It is to mimic and to exalt the kind of philosophy of life that motivated all the spiritual actions of Christ whilst he was on earth. The life of Christ is our example, and our only example. It is the measurement of righteousness that we should set to follow and to promote. Walking in the footsteps of Christ has the effect of elevating the teachings of Christianity out of the realm of outward religion and places it squarely with in the confines of a proper spiritual philosophy, a real Philosophy of life that brings us within the community of the divine.
WE ARE ONE IN CHRIST JESUS
As Christians a type of spiritual umbilical chord connects us to Christ. The Scriptures show that the lives that we lead are phased into a conscious and intimate existence with Christ himself. The Apostle Paul on a number of occasions referred to all Christians as being personally “in Christ”. Indeed, Paul went on to state that each of us having our origins “in Christ”.
We thus emanate from him, we are sustained through him, and we are constantly guided to him as he sits on his divine throne in heaven (Romans Ch.11 v 36). We are reckoned in the Father’s eyes to be sitting on the same throne in heaven that Christ now occupies and that throne in located directly on the right hand side of the Father (Ephesians Ch. 2 v 6). We are exalted so much to be “in Christ” that the Father acknowledges us as having merged into the same type of divine personality as if we represent a renewed “Christ – like” personality who is judicially reckoned as being co-bodied with Christ Jesus himself. Yes, so much are we accounted to be “in Christ”, that though the Holy Scriptures make it clear that Christ is the Firstborn of the Father in all things of a biological and chronological sense. All of us Christians, individually and collectively are awarded the same status by being called the firstborn ones of God (Hebrews Ch. 12 v 23). In a legal sense, each of us in God’s eyes is the microcosm of the singular Christ, while the singular Christ is the macrocosm of the totality of the human race, which has existed within all the periods of chronological time from the very foundation of the world (II Timothy Ch. 1 v 9). This was long before any of us came into human existence within the past centuries of time.
Our whole life is centred around and through the actual life of Christ that he lived on this earth and that he is now living in heaven. In truth, Christ has lived a life of substitution for each of us humans so that we may inherit the same righteousness and ascend to the same glory that Christ now has with the Father.
The real meaning of Christianity is the fact that the New Testament shows each of us as having been attached to Christ in a co-bodied way from the very foundation of the world
(II Timothy Ch. 1 v 9). And even now we are connected to him, and we will always be wrapped up in him in a co-bodied way throughout the rest of eternity. This fact may be difficult for people to understand and to believe, but this is the exact teaching that we find in the New Testament. This exalted position we now have in Christ is plainly stated by Saint Paul when he said that we are already “Fellow heirs and of the same body” (Ephesians Ch. 2 v 6). This highly exalted position has the effect of making us to be “Fellow Citizens with the Saints and of the household of God” (Ephesians Ch. 2 v 19). We are not to simply populate heaven. We will be active participants in the Godhead!
This is the exact legal or symbolic description that the Apostle Paul gave for each one of us. We are conjoined (in a similar manner to being born as a Siamese Twin) to and thoroughly immersed in Christ in an inseparable way.
We have an accurate biblical illustration to show this. The Apostle Paul said that a husband and wife are “one flesh” and are legally attached to each other while they are married and in the flesh (Ephesians Ch. 5 vv 31-32). Like an ideal husband and wife are in thorough accord and harmony with one another, Paul taught that we are legally conjoined with Christ in every way while we are humans on this earth, socially, religiously, politically and in holy righteousness. We are even now conjoined with Christ. This status shows there can be no blame attached to us in a legal sense in the eyes of the Father throughout all periods of future time. It is not what we do or not do, but to whom we are joined. This union of ours with Christ Jesus is as certain and as solid as an immovable and non-decaying fortress of strength. This attachment to Christ makes us in the eyes of the Father as being a Christ-like personality on the same level of firstborn status in the Family of God as is Christ Jesus himself. Nothing can separate us from this majestic and glorious position that we have by being reckoned to be “in Christ” (Romans Ch. 8 vv 38-39). Maintaining this love relationship between Christ and each of us is not dependent on us. It is on Him!
WE ARE CONJOINED WITH CHRIST FOR ALL ETERNITY
Since all of us are legally reckoned as being “in Christ” before this world system came into existence, it follows that we were also “in Christ” when Christ Jesus entered this world a little over two thousand years ago. The Apostle Paul stated that Christ “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians Ch. 2 vv 6-8).
Christ Jesus had the rank of God on him when he was formerly in heaven, and so he has it now.
Now note this point. When Christ entered this world in the flesh and performed the task of being perfectly righteous in all things that he did, so did you, and all those “in Christ” do the same thing because the Father being conjoined with Christ at that time reckons you to be the same. In a legal sense, you entered the world at the same time Christ did though you were not yet born nor did you have any existence whatever at the time. His birth into the world is YOUR spiritual birth by substitution. The principal teaching of Christianity is one of substitution.
Notice what this substitutionary role involves. The Apostle Paul carries this theme of substitution further by stating that when Christ was circumcised in the temple eight days after his birth, you also were acknowledged as having been circumcised at the same time. This is because you, even then, were conjoined with Christ, “In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians Ch. 2 v 11). Yes, Christ being circumcised also circumcised you; you were circumcised at the same time. This was a symbol of that divine unity with Christ that you inalienably possess as your inheritance. Being conjoined with Christ means that when he was circumcised as a substitute for you, God reckoned you as being circumcised at the same instant, whether male or female makes no difference in this case because we are talking of legal and symbolic matters only, and not a physical ritual of itself. You were then accounted as being legally circumcised and worthy of receiving all the promised inheritance given to Abraham, Moses and all the children of Israel who got their rewards through circumcision. This relationship was an initial one with God.
But our conjoined relationship with Christ became more mature. Our oneness with Christ did not end with the initial ritual of circumcision performed upon Christ. The Apostle Paul went on by stating that you and all other humans were “buried with him in baptism, and also co-raised in him” (Colossians Ch.2 v 12). When John the Baptist raised Christ out of the water in the River Jordan, that same ritual of baptism was for all Christians at the same time, because we were “in Christ” and Christ was again performing the act of substitution for us all.
Indeed, our conjoint relationship with Christ did not end even with his circumcision and his baptism. It carried on throughout his earthly ministry and finally, as the Apostle Paul said of himself “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians Ch. 2 v 20). When Christ was crucified, all Christians were reckoned by the Father, on matter in what period of time they lived, as having died with Christ on the tree of crucifixion. Saint Paul clearly states that that all Christians “died with Christ” when Christ died on Mount Calvary outside the City of Jerusalem (Galatians Ch. 2 v 20).
But our conjoined relationship with Christ didn’t stop with the crucifixion. Paul went on to show that we also legally “quickened together with him” when Christ was resurrected from the dead (Colossians Ch. 2 v 13) or in a very simple way of expressing it, Paul said “If ye then be risen with Christ” Paul went even further in Ephesians by saying that we have not only risen with Christ at the time of his resurrection from the dead, but then we were “made to sit together with him in heavenly places”(Ephesians Ch. 2 v 6). We are legally in the eyes of the Father already seated with Christ on a throne at the right hand of God the Father in heaven (Colossians Ch. 3 v 1). This position has been secured for us through our oneness with Christ.
In this legal and symbolic sense, each of us is presently equal with Christ himself because we are in a conjoined relationship with him that the Father fully recognizes as proper and right. And since Christ is the firstborn son of the Father, by our being “in Christ”, we are also designated as firstborn children who are destined to inherit all the possessions and authority of the firstborn himself. Of course, the Father will always be the Father and in supreme authority over us, and Christ will always be reckoned as our Elder Brother in the sense that he performed the works that make our being “in Christ” a living reality. Consequently, we are destined to assume the same bodily characteristics and the spiritual attributes and eventually, the divine power and glory as those faculties now being enjoyed by the Father and the Son.
And note this point. When we are literally resurrected from the dead at Christ’s second coming, we will then assume our position of rank as a firstborn child of God just as Christ now exercises that exalted power and supreme authority. “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John Ch. 3 v 2).
Christ is now an Elohim the Hebrew word for God! And we are destined to become in bodily shape and composition, as well as spiritual attitude and righteousness, the same type of divine being that Christ is now. Christ already reckons us as being gods in human form (St. John’s Gospel Ch. 10 vv 34-35), and soon we are going to become just like the Father and the Son in spiritual composition and in righteous character. That will come at our resurrections from among the dead. It is obvious that in this human life we are weak, but then we will be strong.
JUST WHAT ARE HUMAN BEINGS?
At the very beginning of the Bible we are told that humans are made in the image and likeness of God “ And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis Ch. 1 v 26). Notice the plurality in the meaning of the word God, when he said let us make man in our image.
Most remarkably, however, is the fact that the Old Testament refers to human beings in general as now being gods. “I have said, you are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalm 82 v 6). Jesus himself used this very text to assure the erring Jewish authorities in his time that human beings can legitimately be called “gods” (John Ch. 10 v 34). And, that is exactly what human beings are. We are non-glorified “gods” in human form. “You are gods, and children of the most High”. This was not a trite statement by Christ, nor was it a mere allegory. In Paul’s view, it as a fact based upon our being “in Christ”.
HOW CAN HUMAN BEGINNINGS BEcome GOD?
The early Israelites clearly understood that there was only one God (Isaiah Ch. 45 v 5). There is also only one perfect and Holy Son of the Father and his name is Jesus the Christ. He was the firstborn of God’s creations and it was to him that the divine Creator gave the power to form the heavens and the earth (Colossians Ch. 1 vv 15-22). In the beginning he was with God and he was God all things that were made were made by him, when he was on earth he was called Emmanuel, which in Hebrew means “God with us”. The New Testament also acknowledges Christ as being “God” (John Ch. 14 vv 8-9) “Philip said unto him, Lord show us the Father, and it suffices us. Jesus said unto him, have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father” the word Elohim in Hebrew refers to a Family that is composed of several members of which humans can be an integral part. Indeed, the very act of salvation was to bring humans into the divine Family of God. The Family has created, governed and sustained the entire universe, and we are destined to be fully integrated into membership of that divine Household and placed upon the royal throne of God.
This means the Father is Elohim, so the Son is Elohim and you and I, as well as the rest of the human race, are also Elohim. “You are gods and children of the most High”. The purpose of the Father before the foundation of the world was to reproduce Himself so that there would eventually be many millions of redeemed humans, who would be saved through the sacrificial act of His Son Jesus Christ, and would become members of His divine Family in heaven with the Father as its head. That is the main purpose for our existence. We were all created to become the children of God.
Even now we are in the image and likeness of God, except for the fact that we are made of flesh and blood. We are non-glorified gods, and we do not yet have the spiritual virtues of righteousness that the Father and the Son possess. But we are soon to have those characteristics too. Even now we are god’s, but we do not yet have the power and authority to exercise universal dominion over the creation as do the Father and Christ Jesus because we do not yet have the spiritual qualifications nor experience to do so. But soon, we will inherit all of the characteristics of the Father and the Christ because we are destined in the resurrection to be presented with the same spiritual attributes now enjoyed by the Father and Christ. How we assume those awesome responsibilities is the central teaching of what Christianity is about in the first place.
This divine plan or purpose begun by the Father and Christ before the foundation of the world system was to acquaint us with experiences involving both good and evil so that we can in the future become fully fledged members of the divine Family that has the role of experiencing and even creating such things (Isaiah Ch. 45 v 7). And when God set out to accomplish his purpose in reproducing himself, there is not the slightest doubt that he will be victorious.
To assure the success of his divine purpose, the Father accounts all of us as now being in a conjoined relationship with Christ, we were legally placed “in Christ” before the creation of Adam and Eve. And Christ’s job is to bring each one of us into the divine Family of God without the slightest chance of failure in his task. As Christ said:
“All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out … And this is the Father’s will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John Ch. 6 vv 37-39). If Christ could fail, that would show he was not supremely powerful. He cannot fail!
CONJOINED WITH CHRIST THROUGHOUT HIS EARTHLY LIFE AND MINISTRY
When the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles came to see this legal and theological position that Christians have had “in Christ” from the foundation of the world, it became clear why all the rituals and ordinances that God formerly commanded for humans to observe were no longer necessary to perform. We performed them all when Christ characteristically did them all in a perfect manner as our divine substitute. Yes, we have not only been co-circumcised with Christ when he was circumcised, but we have been co-baptized, c0-crucified, co-raised from the dead, and finally c0-seated with Christ on his throne on the right hand of God. We are presently co-family members of the divine Household of God with firstborn rank from the Father. We can never be anything else but having this exalted rank and status.
This means we have died, in a legal sense, to all religious requirements that God imposed upon Adam and Eve, upon Abraham and Moses, upon John the Baptist and upon the early Apostles. We have even died to the ritualistic teachings which governed the early Church before the revelation of “the Mystery” when this new knowledge came to the attention of the Apostles. Take physical baptism for an example. Since the baptism that John performed on Christ in the Jordan is now reckoned as being the baptism that counts for us, since we have had a continual conjoined relationship with Christ, that is why Paul emphasized that there is only “one baptism” that applies to us (Ephesians Ch. 4 v 5) and that is the baptism Christ underwent for us in the River Jordan. This means that John symbolically baptizes each of us.
This is the simple reason why Paul told the Colossians that they did not any longer have to pay attention to the keeping of the weekly Sabbaths, new moons and holy day observances (Colossians Ch. 2 v 16). This means that all the decrees or ordinances given to Moses or to the early Church regarding foods, drinks and other religious customs are no longer necessary for us to observe because we have kept them perfectly in Christ when he observed them. This is because these commandments were made strictly for some of mankind to observe especially, the nation of Israel. But we are now reckoned, since the revelation of the “Mystery” in A.D.63 as being c0-raised from the dead with Christ and to be c0-seated with Christ on the throne at the right hand of the Father. Our citizenship is now in heaven and the Father no longer recognises us as merely having some human citizenship on this earth. Thus, we are no longer subjected to the religious laws and ritualistic commandments designed by the Father for humans on the earth, whether Jew or Gentile. Of course, we are still humans and live within our human societies. This is a fact, and the Apostle Paul demanded that we observe all the laws and standards of behaviour regulated by our human societies (Romans Ch. 13 vv 1-8), as long as those rules of conduct do not violate the greater teachings of God (Acts Ch. 5 v 29). That means we are to pay our taxes cheerfully and to perform our other civic duties that society requires. But our real citizenship is of a divine origin and authorisation. Our present citizenship on this earth is a temporary one that we share with all humans. But we legally sit, even now on the right handoff God in heaven. The songwriter Jr.Albert Brumley beautifully expressed this theme in the song sung by the late country and western singer Jim Reeves:
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The Angels beckon me from heavens open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
Just over in glory land we’ll live eternally
The saints on every hand are shouting victory
Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord, You know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do?
The Angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
Since you and I are accounted as being conjoined with Christ, when he kept the weekly Sabbath perfectly until his death on the tree, we are acknowledged by the Father as having already kept the weekly Sabbath perfectly in him. When he paid the tithes to the Levites in a perfect way, we paid tithes in him and no longer need to pay tithes to anyone else. And when Christ kept the Lord’s Supper on the eve of his crucifixion, we kept it with him. And since he told his disciples that he would not keep it again until he returns, we don’t have to keep it either until that time. True, until the revelation of the “Mystery” in A.D.63 that revealed our conjoined relationship with Christ, it was accepted as needful to observe the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians Ch. 11 vv 20-34). But that ordinance is no longer necessary for us who sit on the right hand of the Father “in Christ”. We symbolically have Christ now in our midst. In other words, we have already made it, through Christ, into the divine and holy habitation of God.
What the real teachings of Christianity means is that we have already met all the religious requirements of the Father in all phases of human life and that we are no longer subjected by the Father to perform such religious practices. All such religious matters are superfluous and irrelevant to us who are now conjoined with Christ. Indeed, it goes further than that. Since divine scriptures states it is appointed unto men only once to die and then comes the judgment (Hebrews Ch. 9 v 27), Christ also had to pass that necessary Judgment Seat of the Father. And Christ did pass that trial with perfection in our place. Since we were conjoined with Christ at the time, we also underwent the same Judgment and passed it triumphantly. This substitution of Christ applies to all humans because all are destined to stand before the throne of God to give an account of the things that we have done in this life, both good and bad (II Corinthians Ch. 5 vv 10-11). But Christ as our substitute has now accomplished that for us. This is because of our conjoined relationship that we have with Christ. So, since we are now reckoned as co-crucified with Christ , co-quickened and co-raised from the dead with Christ, we were also conjoined with Christ when he stood before the Judgment seat of God when he went to the Father in heaven after his resurrection. And what was Christ’s judgment? The demerit side of Christ’s personal ledger was clear of any sins or imperfections, because he committed no sins, whilst his credit side was filled with a perfect righteousness. Christ passed the Judgment of God against sin and death with flying colours and God has granted to each of us the victory of that same Judgment since Christ was our substitute. This is the central core teaching of what the Gospel of Christ is all about. You can be fully assured of your salvation. Christ grants it as an absolute and inalienable possession that we cannot lose (John Ch. 6 v37).
Since we are now reckoned as being conjoined with Christ from the very foundation of the world until our glorification “in Christ” at our resurrections, we are also given the same rewards as those given to Christ himself. That is why Paul could so confidently state that the Father has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians Ch. 2 vv 6-7). Our life in Christ has just begun. We have the rest of eternity to live in him.
The Philosophy of Christianity shows that our lives are centered “in Christ”. It is not a matter of what we do or what we do not do in a religious sense that makes the difference. The key to the whole thing is: who it is who lives in us? Who are we a part of? Who is conjoined with us? If Christ does indeed live in us, as we are assured by the Holy Scriptures that he does, then we are even now reckoned by God the Father to be as holy, altogether righteous and absolutely worthy in His eyes as is Christ Jesus himself. We are gracefully endowed with such righteousness in God’s eyes, not that we are actually righteous of ourselves, that when the Father looks on Christ at present in heaven, He sees us in Him. And even more wonderful in one way of looking at it, when the Father sees us now on earth, He sees Christ in all of us! In a word, we have already been saved “in Christ” and we will always be saved. Christ saves all humans in particular time periods known only to Him (II Timothy Ch. 2 vv 2-6).
The truth is, we are not here on earth to live by outward religious rules and regulations, like Israel was formally expected to do, but they were unable to do because of the weakness of their flesh, but we are to live by the divine principles of life. We are to be motivated by the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit working in our lives (Galatians Ch. 5 vv 22-23). Indeed, it is God the Father who places in us His will to do the things that He approved.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians Ch. 2 v 13). Christianity is truly a Philosophy of life, Christ’s life, which leads us in our everyday walk. It has nothing to do with keeping religious rules and regulations that God once used to govern men and women. Our new Philosophy of life is governed by unwritten principles that Paul catalogued as the nine fruits of the Spirit in his Epistle to the Galatians. This is why real Christianity remains a Philosophy of life. It is not a religion of denominationalism with rules of does and don’ts made up by human leaders. Humanity was not created to be in Church for all our periods of existence. No, indeed. We are destined to partake of an intimate Family position equivalent to that of the “Firstborn”. This will allow us to rule and to enjoy the totality of this universe with God ages of time that await the glorious manifestation of us as His Children
The Liturgical Standards
The Anglican Episcopal Church
We have often heard the two extreme parties within the established Church expounding their views. One is the view of the Evangelicals, Presbyterians in surplices. The other is the view of the Anglo-Catholics, Roman-ism withthout the Pope, but as Traditional Anglicans, we continue to maintain the standards of the Church of England, (The Protestant Episcopal Church in America). Where the doctrine follows the ceremonial. We may notice therefore first the ceremonial, as demonstrated in words, music and other externals touching each sense, the mind, the ear, the eye, and even the nose, showing us the way.
We have become accustomed to thinking that Queen Elizabeth I, had personally “high” inclinations, or was constrained by a policy of appeasement to the more catholic minded of her subjects, and pressure from the Roman Catholic powers, most notably Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, but from France as well, to use for a time a fairly “high” form of ceremonial at Court, but that she was content to allow a “lower” form to be used throughout the countryside, and indeed allowed, and even encouraged certain announcements in 1566, which enforced the statement that surplices only should be worn in Parish Churches, with the addition of a cope in Cathedrals and principal churches, as a deliberate decline from the “Ornaments Rubric” of the Prayer Book and the Act of Uniformity, under which the wearing of the alb and the chasuble were strictly forbidden.
And that the growth of officially sanctioned Puritanism was so swift, we are accustomed to believing that its effects had been an almost immediate revolution, with ancient practices being almost overnight cast aside, by men, many of whom had been ordained during the reigns of Henry or Mary, who had happily overthrown the usages of their ordination vows, in favour of the bleakness of Puritanism, and had warmly embraced a New Religion, nothing could be further from the truth.
Queen Elizabeth desired to return to the settlement of religion much as her father had left it, firmly national, owing no elegance to a foreign supremacy, and clearly holding the Catholicism of the highest antiquity. This would have meant the Sarum Canon of the Mass with the Communion in both kinds; Mass was always prefaced by the English Litany, and included the Kyrie, Gloria, Epistle, Gospel and Credo also in English, with the “Order of Communion” which included the Exhortation, Confession, Absolution, and Prayer of Humble Access. Her other preference was the first Edwardian 1549 Prayer Book, still with the “Institution of a Christian Man” as a doctrinal standard.
Since Queen Mary’s bishops would not cooperate, and her father’s reputation was not universally revered, Elizabeth had to turn to men who had ties to Geneva and Zurich as her bishops, and had to sanction the use of the 1552 edition of the Prayer Book for their programme; but she did so reluctantly and only after certain changes had been made; the Sacrament was given with words involving a restored Sacramental Theology, the wholly illegal “Black Rubric” was simply omitted, it had always been a contentious item opposed by Cranmer and the best English Divines against the Geneva’s and other extremists, and the “Ornament Rubric” was inserted into the opening pages of the 1559 Prayer Book , and again in the better known 1560 edition for use in Ireland as well as at the Universities and Colleges, which sanctioned Reservations in much the same terms as the 1549 edition had, and again encouraged the use of the old vestments and ceremonial.
Under the Canon Law of the Provinces of Canterbury and York, at least two full suits of vestments were required, one ferial one festal, the altar needed a full frontal, and at least one candle was to burn at Mass.
The “Ornaments Rubric”, by referring to the last days the Sarum Mass was lawful, and not to the 1549 liturgy, it also included the ceremonial use of incense, the sign of the Cross at Absolutions and Blessings; the First Act of Uniformity of 1549, had not at that time been given Royal Assent, and was not as yet Law. The Ornaments Rubric, directs us to the 1549 liturgy, and to the old Mass itself, and all that implies.
The Act of 1549, establishing the first Prayer Book, did, pass through the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and by solemnly signing the Act, in a very formal setting, Queen Elizabeth I, had, to all intents and purposes stolen a march over “them that came from Geneva” and had set the standard of the English Church much “higher” than is commonly supposed.
And all without the innovations then coming in from Rome; no genuflection to the Blessed Sacrament, which was first introduced at Rome by an assistant Master of Ceremonies to the Pope in a book published in 1502, it never found its way to our shores, tabernacles were never found on an English altar, where the law was kept: they were taken up as a crusade by Charles Borromeo, and Cardinal Pole had them set up in some churches, the normal form of Reservation at that time was a hanging Pyx, suspended over the altar, or in Scotland and the Boarder country, the Most Holy Sacrament was always kept in an Aumbry in or near the North wall of the sanctuary, as it should be today.
The altar was to be without shelves and numerous candles; in the instructions issued in 1547 during King Edwards short reign, it stated not more than two candles, which was then quite normal, however one candle alone was sufficient under the old Canon Law, in England before, during, and after the Reformation. The use of a row of six candles was taken from the Papal Court at Rome in the last days of the council of Trent. Elizabethan legislation firmly grounded us upon the first four General Councils.
The old English liturgical colours were to be used, as they should be today, Red, Green, Purple and White. When we witness the ceremonial of the church being correctly enacted, we are seeing Anglicanism at its very best, as it was intended to be by Queen Elizabeth I, and, we may think, in all humility, as it was intended by God, whose Apostle warned us through St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy, “Keep the deposit which is entrusted to thee”, or to put it into simple terms.
MAINTAIN THE TRADITIONS OF OUR ANGLICAN FAITH
Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus