Reasons NOT to use the BCP

I would love to read your comments on Gill’s reasons for not using the Book of Common Prayer.

warhol_gillThe book of Common Prayer, set forth as a rule and directory of divine worship and service, we have many things to object to.

1. Inasmuch as it prescribes certain stinted set forms of prayer, and ties men up to the use of them: we do not find that the apostles of Christ and the first churches used any such forms, nor Christians for many ages; and of whatever use it can be thought to be unto persons of weak capacities, surely such that have spiritual gifts, or the gift of preaching the gospel, can stand in no need of it, and who must have the gift of prayer; and to be bound to such pre-composed forms, as it agrees not with the promise of the Spirit of grace and supplication, so not with the different cases, circumstances, and frames that Christians are sometimes in; wherefore not to take notice of the defectiveness of these prayers, and of the incoherence and obscurity of some of the petitions in them; the frequent tautologies and repetitions, especially in the Litany, so contrary to Christ’s precept in Matthew 6:7 are sufficient to give us a distaste of them.

2. Though we are not against reading the scriptures in private and in public, yet we cannot approve of the manner the Liturgy directs unto; namely, the reading it by piece-meals, by bits and scraps, so mangled and curtailed as the Gospels and Epistles are: we see not why any part of scripture should be omitted; and the order of these being an invention of a Pope of Rome, and the fixing them to matins and even-songs smelling so rank of popery, no ways serve to recommend them to us: not to take notice of the great impropriety of calling passages out of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Malachi, and the Acts of the apostles, by the name of Epistles: but especially it gives us much uneasiness to see lessons taken out of the Apocrypha, and appointed to be read as if of equal authority with the sacred scriptures; nay not only out of the books of Baruch, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus, but out of the histories of Tobit, Judith, Susanna, Bel and the dragon, and such lessons out of them as contain the most idle and fabulous stories.

3. The book of Common Prayer, enjoins the reading of the book of Psalms in the corrupt translation of the Vulgate Latin, used by the papists; in which there are great omissions and subtractions in some places; as every where, the titles of the Psalms are left out, and in all places there words Higgaion and Selah, and the last verse of Psalm 72 and in others, there are manifest additions, as in Psalm 2:12; 4:8; 13:6; 22:1, 31; 39:12; 132:4; 136:27; 147:8 and three whole verses in Psalm 14, whereas nothing should be taken from, nor added to the word of God; some sentences are absurd and void of sense, as Psalm 58:8; 68:30, 31; and in others the sense is perverted, or a contrary one given, as in Psalm 17:4; 18:26; 30:13; 105:28; 106:30; 107:40; and 125:3. This translation of the Psalms stands in the English Liturgy, and is used and read in the churches in England.

4. It directs to the observation of several fasts and festivals, which are no where enjoined in the word of God, and for which it provides collects, gospels and epistles to be read: the fasts are, Quadragesima or Lent, in imitation of Christ’s forty days fast in the wilderness, Ember weeks, Rogatian days, and all the Fridays in the year; in which men are commanded to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving. The festivals, besides, the principal ones, Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, are the several saints days throughout the year; which are all of popish invention, and are either moveable or fixed, as the popish festivals be; and being the relics of popery makes us still more uneasy and dissatisfied with them.

5. Besides the corruptions before observed in the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s supper, in the order for the Visitation of the Sick stands a form of Absolution, which runs thus; “And by his (Christ’s) authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father,and of the Son, and of the  holy Ghost;” which is a mere popish device; Christ having left no such power to his church, nor committed any such authority to any set of men in it; all that the Ministers of Christ have power or authority to do, is only ministerially to declare and pronounce, that such who believe in Christ shall receive the remission of sins, and that their sins are forgiven them; and that such who believe not shall be damned.

6. It appoints some things merely civil, as ecclesiastical and appertaining to the ministry, and to be performed by ecclesiastical persons and ministers, and provides offices for them: as,prayer

1. Matrimony; which seems to favor the popish notion of making a sacrament of it; whereas it is a mere civil contract between a man and a woman, and in which a minister has nothing to do; nor do we ever read of any priest or Levite, that was ever concerned in the solemnization of it between other persons, under the Old Testament, or of any apostle or minister of the word, under the New; not to say any thing of the form of it, or of the ceremonies attending it.

2. The Burial of the Dead; which is a mere civil action, and belongs not to a gospel-minister, but to the relations of the deceased or other neighbors, friends or acquaintance (Matthew 8:21, 22; Acts 8:2): nor is there any necessity for a place to be consecrated for such a purpose. Abraham and Sarah were buried in a cave, Deborah under an oak, Joshua in a field, Samuel in his house, and Christ in a garden (Gen. 23:9; 35:8; John 24:30; 1 Sam. 25:1; John 19:41). Nor do the scriptures ever make mention of any service being read, or of any divine worship being performed at the interment of the dead; and was any thing of this kind necessary, yet we must be obliged to object unto, nor could we comply with, the service used by the church of England on this occasion; we cannot in conscience call every man and woman, our dear brother, or our dear sister, as some who have lived vicious lives, and hive not appeared to have had true repentance towards God or faith in Christ, have been called; or “commit their bodies to the ground in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life;” since we know there will be a resurrection to damnation as well as to eternal life; nor can we give thanks to God on account of many, “that it has pleased him to deliver them out of the miseries of this sinful world;” nor join in the following petition, which seems to favor the popish notion of praying for the dead; “beseeching — that we, with all those that are departed in the true faith of thy holy name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul,” etc.


Gill’s arguments are compelling.

I do love using the BCP…but is it theologically sound?

Should I take Gill’s advice, as a direct rebuke considering I’ve recently been attending the Lord’s Supper at the Anglican church, and stop using the BCP?

Yours in the Lord,



  1. Jason Giles · March 11, 2015

    Wow, what he says about matrimony and burials is really eye opening! And it makes a lot of sense.

    Using the BCP has never sat well with me, and Gill gives great reasons for it. I’ve been to churches that start doing other strange things in conjunction with its use, like really pushing Ash Wednesday and Lent, stations of the cross, and generally forgetting all about their protestant heritage.

    There’s a reason Spurgeon rails against what he called ‘Anglican popery’, and I would be careful about having anything to do with one of their churches, especially the Anglo-Catholic kind. I went inside an Anglo-Catholic church once, and while the architecture was beautiful, some of the things I saw were downright idolatrous, with a huge shrine to Mary being the chief one. Here’s their site, complete with a “Hail! Holy Queen” video on the front page:

    Here’s the shrine. It’s big, but you can’t really see the scale in this picture:

    Anyway, be careful. There have been some amazing books and teachers that have come out of the Anglican church, but their propensity to error makes me wary of anything that comes out of it.

  2. Jason Giles · March 11, 2015

    Here’s a sermon Spurgeon gave on the BCP:

  3. jm · March 11, 2015

    Thanks Jason for the sermon link. I’ll read it today.

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  5. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · May 13, 2015

    Sadly, far too many have no clue to the Reformed and Protestant nature and aspect of classic and historical Anglicanism! As the Irish Archbishop James Ussher, and the Irish Articles 1615, and Ussher nice book: A Body Of Divinity, etc. And of course the classic Thirty Nine Articles!

    • jm · May 14, 2015

      I’ve been visiting an Anglican church from time to time for their BCP service. Good liturgy but poor teaching and preaching.

      • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · May 15, 2015

        Sadly for the most part today’s Anglicanism (Anglican Communion, etc.) is in the Gentile free-fall of Apostasy! (2 Tim. 3: 5… “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof..” Simply amazing how they can still read and use the BCP and many of the Collects? But they have certainly left the Thirty-Nine Articles, save to misuse it!

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