Good recent books on Anglicanism

Sep 2, 2021 by

REFORMATION ANGLICAN WORSHIP: Experiencing Grace, Expressing Gratitude,

By Michael P. Jensen, Crossway, 190pp

Reviewed by David Virtue, VirtueOnline:

[…] The author boldly states that his conviction is that the theological commitments of Cranmer and the other English Reformers had, and still have, seminal significance for Anglicans and that theology of this period has often been disregarded in a more cavalier fashion. The spirit of the Reformers, and indeed to orthodox Christian faith is that nothing be “repugnant to the Word of God.”

That was crucial for Cranmer as a liturgist. He was a genuinely theological liturgist, who sought to enshrine a particular gospel by means of his revision of English worship.

Is there anything distinctive about a Reformation Anglican view of Christian worship? It was Martin Luther who pioneered the idea that Christian worship was not about what people did for God, but about what God did for the people. The characteristic pre-Reformation notion of worship had been precisely the opposite-namely, that the people gathered in order for the priest to offer a sacrifice to God on their behalf. But when the people came together under the influence of the Reformers, it was to hear the proclamation of the gospel through which God would work in people’s hearts and minds.

Reformation Anglican worship today is grounded in a specific set of theological convictions about (a) how human beings come to know God in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and (b) how gatherings of believers ought to be ordered.

The Heritage of Anglican Theology,  by J.I. Packer (Review), Crossway, 384 pages

Reviewed by Mark Brains, Anglican Compass

[…] The Heritage of Anglican Theology presents, in essence, the course of lectures on Anglican history and theology that Packer gave year-in and year-out during his time at Regent College. Working from transcripts of his lectures, working-in additional material, going through several processes of editing and revision, Packer delivers less of a “cutting-edge work of theological exploration or a comprehensive history” as Donald Lewis explains in the foreword (12). Rather it is “offered to help readers explore a tradition and history that might remain unfamiliar and confusing were it not for the unique perspective […] of this senior Anglican theologian, churchman, and enthusiast” (12).

What follows is a book that does just what the title suggests: Packer guides us through the history of the Anglican Communion with an emphasis on historical theology. If you are looking for an introduction to the history of Anglican Theology that is both substantive and readable, and which guides the reader carefully into the present state of things, this is it.

At the risk of being misunderstood, I maintain that Packer’s book is one of the fairest surveys of Anglican historical theology. Of course, like any author, Packer has his biases. But this is a very “just” overview. Packer does a lot of work in the first preliminary chapter to map-out the major discourses in Anglicanism, and to openly discuss where he understands himself to be working from.

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