Category Archives: 1928 BCP Defense

Making an American Settlement

Trenton New Jersey State Building, c. 1800

Episcopalians are generally raised on the myth the original Protestant Episcopal Church (PECUSA or PEC) never formally adopted the Articles of Religion as a standard for doctrine. More critical observers may qualify this claim by mentioning the later adoption of the 39-Articles, amended to American circumstances, at the General Convention of 1801 and their ultimate insertion into the American Prayer Book. More skeptical persons insist the Articles never made their way into PECUSA’s subscription formula when compared to the English. Indeed, if contrasting the terms of subscription between American and English forms, the matter evidently boils down to what early-PECUSA meant by its “doctrine and discipline”. However, the Articles were part of a larger theological settlement and had import for making a national church.

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1928 BCP’s Penitential Office

Welsh Desk

Dissenting Reading Desk w/ Pulpit

Note: This essay was also posted at River Thames Beach Party (RTBP).

Oftentimes the 1928 BCP is identified as part of PECUSA’s downward slide by reason of eroding older penitential language. Some changes were indeed unfortunate but few consider the flexibility of rubrics which may compensate for much of what’s missing. Shouldn’t we be more careful about lumping, say, the 1928 BCP together with its 1979 counterpart? Or, for that matter, doing the same with any of the American BCPs? In time, I’d like to develop a robust defense of the 1928 and older American versions, but in this post I will begin to tackle a common complaint about the 1928, namely, its tendency to displace ‘sin’ out of the prayer book, starting with the Penitential Office. Continue reading