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  • Gemma-Louise Piggott

A latin phrase for the church today.

Martin Davie’s Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, provides us with an excellent framework that correctly applied can be very useful in today’s church for evaluating liturgy and doctrine. In this booklet Davie explains the historical use of the Latin phrase (‘the law of praying is the law of believing’) and gives helpful examples of its uses throughout history.

With regards to today’s church, Davie shows that a correct application of this principle can undermine the proposals for the liturgical affirmation of same-sex relationships and gender transitioning within the Church of England. The ‘Pilling Report’ (2013 House of Bishops working group on human sexuality), recommended that there could be provision for the blessing of Civil Partnerships and same-sex civil ‘marriage’ or that individuals or groups could even develop their own liturgy for this purpose.

However, Davie explains that these proposals go against the principle of Lex Orandi, Les Credendi and that for the Church of England to change liturgy in this way violates theological statements on marriage and sexuality that it still holds officially. To move to a new doctrinal position, the Church of England has to be willing to show and affirm that same-sex marriage is based on scripture. However, this cannot be done, as marriage established by God is between one man and one woman and open to procreation (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:3-6) and no provisions in Scripture are made for same sex partnership or ‘marriage’.

It is for this reason that the Church of England cannot give any form of liturgical affirmation to such relationships. Davie concludes that ‘a church's liturgical practice needs to cohere with its doctrine and both be in line with Scripture', and that the Church of England’s 'proposals for marking same-sex relationships [are] unacceptable'. Therefore, as 'Orthodox Anglicans [we] need to say an unequivocal ‘no’ to both proposals' (38).

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, is a short book which I commend to you very much.


Gemma-Louise Piggott studied at Oak Hill college and is now the Children and Families minister at St Michael's Gidea Park

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