Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Something Really is Wrong With Our Bloody Lectionary Today (Redux)

"We have no right to expect anything but the pure Gospel of Christ, unmixed and unadulterated, the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles, to do good to the souls of men. I believe that to maintain this pure truth in the Church—men should be ready to make any sacrifice, to hazard peace, to risk dissension, and run the chance of division. They should no more tolerate false doctrine—than they would tolerate sin. They should withstand any adding to or taking away from the simple message of the Gospel of Christ."

~ J.C. Ryle  Warnings to the Churches, “The Fallibility of Ministers”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967], 105.
With apologies to Admiral David Richard Beatty who made a similar comment about his ships as they went down at the battle of Jutland, but there is something wrong with our bloody lectionary today, as it was last Sunday, and as it was two years ago.

(Editorial Note: See the comments, this has been going on for a lot longer than I thought although probably for different reasons. This was first posted back on June 6, 2010, and I did not think I would ever see the Battle of Jutland repeated, but low and behold, the Lectionary sailed from its sheltered harbor in the dead of night hoping to slip past this lowly blog and feed on the remains of that listing convoy of traditional believing Episcopalians. Almost two years to the day, the Lectionarians are doing the exact same thing they did back then. Little did they know that our lookout has been eating his carrots, and our powder has been kept dry and at the ready for any further attempts to re-write Holy scripture. I thought I would be able to stow my guns after last Sunday's sortie, but the enemy is always up to something. So here it goes again.)

So what is going on with our bloody lectionary? For those of you who do not engage in a daily church service or on-line worship, there does exist an Episcopal lectionary thingy that provides groupings of Psalms, O.T. readings, Epistle readings, and Gospel readings for morning and evening worship and for worship on Sundays, Eucharistic readings, for feasts and Holy days. For the past several years, I have been providing some humble commentary on the verses of the Bible that get left out of the Sunday Eucharistic readings. Most pewsitters are unaware of the omissions as they listen or sit reading along in their Sunday bulletins. Some of these edits appear suspicious in that imprecatory, difficult, or potentially controversial verses wind up being the ones that are expurgated. I don't see as much of this going on during the week as I see on Sundays, but today the Lectionary tried to sneak one by me. You see, during the weekdays, the Lectionary usually reads straight through a book of the Bible so that you can get through the entire Gospel of Luke, for example, in a series of daily readings. But look at what happens to Paul's letter to the Romans between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

On Tuesday we read (or hear) Romans 1:16-25.

On Wednesday we get Romans 1:28-2:11.

Does anyone notice the missing verses???

I have heard the excuse that the lectionary shortens some Sunday readings so that the service does not run long. I think we have debunked that myth in the past when it was noted that one or two verses were all that got cut. I  read an explanation of the Lectionary in the Prayer Book Society's Spring Quarter 2010 (print version not on-line) of "Mandate," and while the Rev. Gavin Dunbar gives a capable commentary on the history, weaknesses, structures, and purpose the lectionaries, there was no comment like the one I am about to make about the Episcopal Lectionary:

There is a conspiracy to keep you from reading things that might offend the zeitgeist.

I hate conspiracy theories, and here I go starting one, but what else can I do when I pick up the Bible and read today's missing verses:

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Or as we used to hear when read from the KJV:

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

(Romans 1:26-27)

Does this rank up there with the time the Lectionary dropped the following from the Sunday reading of May 16, 2010 (reported here)?
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."
(Revelation 22:18-19)
Maybe not, but when even an under the radar Bible reader like me notices that the verses that sound easy, sweet, and soothing never seem to be the ones that get sunk, is it any wonder that one's mind starts questioning the intentions of those commanding the fleet?


  1. The next step will be to renumber the verses and pretend the omissions never existed.

    Winston Smith called. He wants his job back.

  2. I was wondering if you knew if Romans 1.26,27 is missing from the Roman Catholic Lectionary?

  3. I have been checking around and it seems that these verses have been missing for a long time according to Lowell's blog, this was evident in the 1928 Prayer Book in which the second lesson for Evening Prayer on the 7th Sunday after Trinity was Romans 1:17-21, 28-32.


    Political correct scripture reading is nothing new is it?

    Is it healthy?

  4. I found this helpful in understanding the 'omission' from the 1928:

    1. Thanks Brian, I am left mulling over the possibility that these verses upset the Victorians. They shouldn't upset modern sensibilities now should they?

  5. Inasmuch as the 1928 BCP lacked the cited verse you can hardly accuse the TEC of foisting it on folks as a matter of political correctness.

    I am more concerned that Prov 6:16-18 are not given nearly as much attention by folks in South Carolina as Romans 1:26,27...perhaps Underground Pewster can explain that to us?

  6. Keep reading and you will see that gets plenty of attention around here as we study the actions of 815.

  7. I assume you apply it to yourselves first, Pewster, true?

    1. Correct, that is why the URL is what it is.