A friend of mine, Ashley Null, spent most of his life researching Thomas Cranmer, the author of the original Anglican Prayer Book. Ashley recently wrote a manuscript about Cranmer that highlights two themes relevant to missions. I’ll call them Bible-chewing and ethnic worship.
Bible-chewing can nurture a right desire for God. It’s the key to spiritual renewal. To quote Cranmer, ‘In these bokes we may learne to know our selfes, how vile and miserable we be, and also to know God, how good he is of himself and how he communcateth his goodness unto us and to al creatures.’ So, the Bible tells us about God and ourselves, but it also turns our hearts to God: ‘…have power to converte [our souls] through God’s promise, and they be effectual through Gods assistance.’
Ethnic worship is the means God uses to draw people to Himself. For Cranmer, this meant replacing the Latin Mass with a reformed English liturgy. He realized that worship needed to be restructured to fit the ordinary work day of the average English bloke. He didn’t use a foreign language, but very English phrases like ‘erred and strayed’ or ‘devices and desires’ that reflected English sensibilities.
So, thanks Thomas C. for these themes! Whether we’re trying to reach a Muslim nomadic group in North Africa or a Hindu tribal community in South Asia, Bible-chewing and ethnic worship will continue to be essential elements for evangelism and church planting. The seeds of this are found in the pages of the original Book of Common Prayer. The fruit, we pray, will be found on the frontiers of mission.