I’ve been reading the Church of England’s ordinal with my ministry trainee in preparation for his Bishops’ Advisory Panel. As we read the Book of Common Prayer ordinal it dawned on me that I was asked quite different questions at my ordination in 2006. The modern questions were a mere shadow of what I would have been asked back in the day.
The table below compares the interrogative questions of the two services, BCP and Common Worship. The former is not only richer and therefore more precise in its language, compared to the language of the TV licence of the modern version, but it more closely defines what the ministry is to which I am called. The modern version no longer requires that I only teach what might be proved by scripture; I am not expected to teach both sound doctrine and the law or commandments of God; I am no longer expected to drive away false doctrines; I do not need to prayerfully study the scriptures (this is completely absent and not just altered in the modern version). The modern version is not good but not all changes are negative. In Common Worship I am reminded that I reconciled to God in Christ and that I am to stir up the gift of God in me by the strength of the Holy Spirit. Still, I know which church I’d prefer to be ordained into.
|Questions in the Ordinal: Book of Common Prayer||Questions in the Ordinal: Common Worship|
|Do you think in your heart that you be truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the order of this Church of England, to the Order and Ministry of Priesthood?||Do you believe that God is calling you to this ministry?|
|Are you persuaded that the holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge, and to teach nothing (as required of necessity to eternal salvation) but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture?||Do you accept the Holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?|
|Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church and Realm hath received the same, according to the commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your cure and charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?||Will you lead Christ’s people in proclaiming his glorious gospel, so that the good news of salvation may be heard in every place?|
|Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word; and to use both publick and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given?||Will you faithfully minister the doctrine and sacraments of Christ as the Church of England has received them, so that the people committed to your charge may be defended against error and flourish in the faith?|
|Will you be diligent in prayers, and in reading of the holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh?|
|Will you be diligent to frame and fashion your own selves, and your families, according to the doctrine of Christ; and to make both yourselves and them, as much as in you lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ?||Will you endeavour to fashion your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ, that you may be a pattern and example to Christ’s people?|
|Will you maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in you, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people, and specially among them that are or shall be committed to your charge?||Will you, knowing yourself to be reconciled to God in Christ, strive to be an instrument of God’s peace in the Church and in the world?|
|Will you reverently obey your Ordinary, and other chief Ministers, unto whom is committed the charge and government over you; following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgements?||Will you accept and minister the discipline of this Church, and respect authority duly exercised within it?|
|Will you work with your fellow servants in the gospel for the sake of the kingdom of God?|
|Will you then, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, continually stir up the gift of God that is in you, to make Christ known among all whom you serve?|