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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

In Defence of our Spiritual Birthright C.A. Anthony Kilmister

THE Book of Common Prayer is one of the supreme achievements of the English tongue. We are abundantly blessed that its compilation should have co-incided with the age when for beauty of rhythm and splendour of diction, our language was at its zenith. For 400 years love and faith have hallowed this heritage of ours and yet in little more than a decade pressures have mounted to replace Cranmer's masterpiece with the third rate-the third Series. It is, as David Martin has said, a 'blasphemy against perfection'. No one should object to change where warranted but we are witnessing change for change's sake or for the sake of doctrinal re-alignment.

Change has, of course, been given a cloak of respectability. The Church and State Report of 1970 (The Chadwick Report) followed on logically after the Prayer Book (Alternative and Other Services) Measure 1965 and paved the way for the all-important Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) Measure 1974. The General Synod of the Church, which is elected by less than 3% of those on the electoral rolls of the Church, now has the power to create new liturgies and even an Alternative Services Book. The Synod alone decides whether or not the new services depart from the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter. Do they? 'Inevitably the revision of services involves a reconsideration of the doctrines underlying them' says Canon A. H. Couratin in The Penguin Guide to Modern Theology (Vol. 2, p. ...


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