Book: A Eucharist-Shaped Church: Prayer, Theology, Mission

Bishop Kemper School for Ministry
Posted Aug 21, 2023

As The Episcopal Church considers a revision to the “new” prayerbook (now over four decades old), a group of scholars, including three historical theologians, a systematic theologian, an historian, and a theologically-educated crack copy-editor, take a deep look into the wide spectrum of Anglican eucharistic theologies, and how the 1979 Book of Common Prayer gathered up and modified the various streams of that theology.

A consideration of the interaction of three leges, three principles, lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi, the law of prayer, the law of belief, and the law of living, lies at the heart of all the essays in this volume.  How we pray shapes what we believe, and vice versa, and our prayer and doctrine, influence how we act in the world and seek to shape it, and vice versa.  For example, one’s understanding of individual vs corporate personhood will affect one’s understanding of the meaning of the eucharist and what it requires of one in the world.

The authors used this model of the three leges to analyze various instances of the wide variety of Anglican eucharistic theologies and social commitments, providing deeper insight than the usual high church/evangelical or realist/nominalist analyses have offered.

General Convention has memorialized the 1979 Book, naming it a landmark in Anglican theology and ecclesiology.  The essays in this book investigate how The Episcopal Church arrived at the eucharistic theology in the 1979 Book, and then consider various proposals and desires for revision, and how those proposals might affect the prayer, theology, and mission of The Episcopal Church.  The concluding section of the volume provides a model for consideration of any proposed revisions.

Given its historical theological investigations and considerations of proposed revisions, this volume will interest the educated general reader, and serve well as a textbook for Anglican eucharistic theology, as well as provide a useful handbook for those tasked with prayer book revision.

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