Worship by Faith Alone: Thomas Cranmer, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Reformation of Liturgy, By Zac Hicks alt

Worship by Faith Alone

Thomas Cranmer, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Reformation of Liturgy

Dynamics of Christian Worship

by Zac Hicks
Foreword by Ashley Null

Worship by Faith Alone
  • Length: 248 pages
  • Published: February 28, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0523
  • ISBN: 9781514005231

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In every age, the church must consider what it means to gather together to worship God.

If the church is primarily the people who follow the risen Christ, then its worship should be "gospel-centered." But where might the church find an example of such worship for today?

In this Dynamics of Christian Worship volume, scholar, worship leader, and songwriter Zac Hicks contends that such a focus can be found in the theology of worship presented by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury during the English Reformation. Hicks argues that Cranmer's reformation of the church's worship and liturgy was shaped primarily by the Protestant principle of justification by faith alone as reflected in his 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, which was later codified under Elizabeth I and has guided Anglican worship for centuries.

Here, we find a model of "gospel-centered" worship through which the church of today might be reformed yet again.

The Dynamics of Christian Worship series draws from a wide range of worshiping contexts and denominational backgrounds to unpack the many dynamics of Christian worship—including prayer, reading the Bible, preaching, baptism, the Lord's Supper, music, visual art, architecture, and more—to deepen both the theology and practice of Christian worship for the life of the church.

"The rediscovery of Thomas Cranmer's vision for worship, enshrined in the Book of Common Prayer, is one of the exciting developments of recent years. Zac Hicks takes us to the source of Cranmer's inspiration in the great doctrine of justification by faith alone, which he expressed in timeless prose. A must-read for everyone who wants to worship God in spirit and in truth."

Gerald Bray, research professor at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and author of Doing Theology with the Reformers

"Worship and trust go together, for good or ill. Zac Hicks shows how the Book of Common Prayer was shaped brilliantly by Thomas Cranmer to commend a deep trust in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, in whom is all comfort and eternal life. Worship by Faith Alone shows us the richly Protestant nature of Cranmerian Anglicanism. Even more so, Hicks shows us how worship can convey Jesus Christ to us."

Michael Allen, John Dyer Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

"In an era obsessed with questions of worship style or the worshiper's positive experience, Zac Hicks's study of Thomas Cranmer reminds us that the more critical issue is how worship proclaims and participates in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have long been concerned that much of the worship in this contemporary era has been ashamed of this gospel, not by overt rejection but by a more subtle—and equally disastrous—omission. Worship by Faith Alone through Cranmer's historical example shows how to avoid this drastic error."

Lester Ruth, research professor of Christian worship at Duke Divinity School

"In Worship by Faith Alone, Zac Hicks brings together analysis of Cranmer's thought and Reformation liturgy with a deep concern for the health of modern worship. Useful to church leaders and students of worship and liturgy, Worship by Faith Alone offers readers a vision of worship that is gospel centered in word, action, and atmosphere, exemplifying the belief that history has relevance for the contemporary world."

Matthew Laube, assistant professor of church music at Baylor University

Read an Excerpt


List of Figures
Foreword by Ashley Null
Introduction: Peering Over the Archbishop's Shoulder

Part 1: Cranmer's Gospel-Centered Theology Established: Paul's Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone
1. The Position of Sola Fide in Cranmer's Theology
2. The Grammar of Sola Fide Defined
3. The Grammar of Sola Fide in Cranmer

Part 2: Cranmer's Gospel-Centered Theology Applied: Analysis of Worship According to the Book of Common Prayer
4. "Not I, But Christ" Structurally: Sola Fide in Cranmer's Liturgical Form
5. "Not I, But Christ" Theologically: Sola Fide in Cranmer's Liturgical Terminology
6. "Not I, But Christ" Ceremonially: Sola Fide in Cranmer's Liturgical Actions and Assisting Tools
7. "Not I, But Christ" Devotionally and Homiletically: Sola Fide in Cranmer's Liturgical Piety and Preaching

Conclusion: Defining and Imagining Gospel-Centered Worship in the Twenty-First Century
General Index
Scripture Index


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Zachary Hicks

Zac Hicks (DMin, Knox Theological Seminary) is pastor of Church of the Cross in Birmingham, Alabama, adjunct lecturer in music and worship at Samford University, and author of The Worship Pastor: A Call to Ministry for Worship Leaders and Teams. He lives with his wife, Abby, and their four children in Birmingham, Alabama.