The Book of Common Prayer | The Brandon & Brian Show

Join Brandon and Brian as they delve into the significance of the Book of Common Prayer. Explore the history and background of the Book of Common Prayer, tracing its origins to the English Reformation and its profound influence on Western culture. Discover the value of incorporating extra-biblical guides into personal devotion and worship, while addressing common concerns and misconceptions.


Well, welcome again to the Brandon and Brian show. We’re glad to have you back.

I’m Brandon.

And I’m Brian. We’re glad to have you on another episode here, another month as we are looking at the different creeds, councils, and confessions that we have in our devotional guide, Be Thou My Vision. Hopefully, you guys are using this for your daily devotional, or at least weekly, going to it constantly, going through the repetitions. But this book, it uses a thing called The Book of Common Prayer and quotes it and has big sections of it in it. That’s kind of what this is, right? It’s a similar thing. It uses multiple sources instead of one, but the Book of Common Prayer is one of those sources. So, we’re going to talk a little bit about that and kind of the value of using some kind of extra-biblical guide for our worship. Why do we do that? What was the justification for the church to do that in the past and why they needed something like the Book of Common Prayer? What’s the value, concerns, and all that kind of stuff? Brian, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the history and background of the Book of Common Prayer?

Sure. It comes about during the English Reformation when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, decided that he wanted something like this. It’s very much like you just said. It’s not just for corporate worship, but this was a book that was for personal devotion. It has daily prayers and readings in it. So, it’s very similar to the book that we’re talking about in that way. A lot of the Reformation was trying to bring the words of scripture and wisdom about the Christian life to Christians. Luther was very much about that, but Cranmer really felt that burden. One thing that we note, because this was about the middle of the 1500s when this comes about, is there are lots of phrases that you might not realize come from that book. Especially in marriage, if you’ve had a wedding ceremony that you’ve gone to that had additional vows, “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”, those are all part of the Book of Common Prayer. They come from there. Also, “at their wit’s end”, “at death’s door”, so some of these phrases that are in very common use came from there. But again, it’s a devotional, as part of the English Reformation. So, the Reformation, properly, we probably think of it starting in Germany with Luther, yeah, spreading out through Europe. This is really where it hits England, and then when we eventually get to the Westminster, it’s almost a hundred years after this. So, the Book of Common Prayer is this kind of precursor to this personal devotion. And to call back a little bit to something we talked about in a previous episode, it includes like the Apostles Creed being done daily. So, you’re starting to see these things being connected over several centuries of what is classical or valuable. And like you said, it has a strong influence on Western culture and society. You know, sometimes those little phrases, but it was what people understood. And some people have the tendency of saying, “Why do I want to read a prayer? Why don’t I just be led by the Spirit and let the Spirit lead my words?” And think it’s kind of weird to read a prayer, you know? We’ve had kind of a misunderstanding of what it means to be led by the Spirit, you know? You know, we’ve got to trust that and we hopefully trust that God’s Spirit has been on his leaders before. And so sometimes when you’re looking at things like the Book of Common Prayer, it’s not inspiring, you know? It’s not scripture. It doesn’t have that kind of authority, but it is written by those who were illumined by the Spirit. And we can use that to guide us, you know, to think about things that maybe we don’t come to our mind that doesn’t spark as you work through these daily devotions and you use our devotion as kind of like a Book of Common Prayer, you use it as a daily devotion, it brings up stuff that maybe you don’t want to deal with, you know? It brings to mind things and struggles that you probably have in your heart that you don’t want to deal with, you know, the frailty of your faith in different areas, you know? But it’s going to force you to do that, right?

Right, because we tend to pray about the things that we really want, as opposed to when you look at these devotions, it’s not about having great health, having my kids well behaved, having my career go well, having business things go right, you know? It’s more about spiritual formation, right? Trusting in God’s word, guiding those things, realizing our need for his Spirit in our lives, you know? We don’t want to think that way, right?

No, I think that’s a great point that you’re making because I think sometimes depending on our church background, we might have a little bit of that, isn’t this a bit of vain repetition that is talked about in scripture? Maybe this is uncomfortable. Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this. But thinking about the context of the way scripture talks about that is almost like an incantation. That’s not what we’re doing here. And this is also, as you look at “Be Thou My Vision”, it incorporates scripture into it. So, it’s not trying to elevate itself above scripture and not saying do a devotional and don’t read God’s word. It’s going ahead and doing all of those things together because a lot of this really is that spiritual discipline, it’s that doing things when you don’t feel like it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t feel very prayerful, I don’t feel very drawn to God’s word, I don’t feel interested, like you said, in looking at prayers that talk about our situation in this world. But I need to. It helps me become more like Christ, right?

Yeah. And then so, it’s very valuable just to kind of let other men’s thoughts, other men that God was working through, trusting that the Spirit was in their working in their lives and they’re writing these, pin and using that as a way to guide our personal worship and not think of worship is something that we do just on Sundays, right?

Right. And just as a teaser, we will get into some of those men in future episodes where we’ll talk about some of them and why they would be included in a book like this, why are people that were born, you know, 300 years ago being quoted in this book, or Puritans or whoever it may be, right?

That’s great. I think that gives them a little introduction on the use and the need and the value of the Book of Common Prayer. What are the concerns you think that people try to bring up about using something like the Book of Common Prayer?

I think it is kind of as a replacement. I think that would be the main concern, is it’s, you’re ending up having something else take away from your time in prayer and scripture reading. And again, like, that is definitely not the intent of it. Hopefully, we’re being very clear about how these things are not inspired, inherent, authoritative, but they are very helpful, and they’ve been used over many centuries to build up God’s people alongside of God’s word, not as a, not as a, um, on the same plane with it.

Yeah, it’s like the Ethiopian eunuch who says, “How can I understand these things unless somebody explained them to me, right?” You know, and things like be them of, they’re a guide, right? Help explain how you integrate the, the scriptures and, and prayer and devotion into your daily life.

Yeah. And to kind of end on a more kind of a, um, maybe a little bit of a more joking note, I remember there was this story where there’s a guy came from overseas, and he was asking because he had grown up in a confessional church. And he said, “What is your confession?” And he said this to people that were, were not confessional. And they said, “No, we believe in the Bible.” And he looked down at his bible and he said, “But there’s so many pages.”

Right? The confession isn’t saying, “Hey, we’re taking over the Bible.” The confession is saying, “Hey, these are those denominational distinctives.” The catechism is saying, “How can we simply bring across these things, right?” The Bible is so many pages, and it’s really helpful to sometimes have this way to, um, to have a hook to hang things on.

Yeah, no, no, here’s what we think scripture actually teaches, right? It’s important.

All right, well done on another episode of the Brandon and Brian show. It’s glad, I just enjoy being able to spend time with you here, and hopefully, this is enjoyable for those who are viewing.

Yeah, see you guys next time.

All right, see you next time on the Brandon and Brian show.

Exploring the Apostles’ Creed | The Brandon & Brian Show

In this episode, Brandon and Brian delve into the significance of the Apostles Creed. Join them as they uncover the historical roots and enduring influence of this foundational creed on Christian belief and practice. Gain valuable insights into the core tenets of faith and how the Apostles’ Creed continues to shape personal devotion and theological understanding.


Hey, welcome back to the Brandon and Brian Show. I’m Brian, and he’s Brandon. Welcome, thank you, so good to see everybody again. We’re jumping back into the Apostles Creed here, so we’re gonna talk about that today as we did the intro. We want to talk about one of the first and most well-known Creeds. Brandon, I thought we would talk maybe a little bit about its origin, and you know just how it was used, how it was developed. It’s one that if we go back to our intro video, it actually doesn’t come from a council, so it’s a little bit of an outlier in that way.

Um, we know that it’s mentioned by some of the early church fathers. Ambrose talks about it in the fourth Century, about 390 AD, something in that range. Yeah, yeah. So, I think the first thing that maybe we could have you help us with is why is it called the Apostles Creed? What is the thinking behind naming it that?

Well, I think Mark wrote it. No, I’m kidding. That’s early on, there was, you know, this was the assumption, right? This was the myth behind it. But history can confirm that the apostles did it. But we’ve kept it as the Apostles Creed because it is the Apostolic tradition, like it is the foundational central core of what it means to be Christian at all. If you deny any line of the Apostles Creed, properly understood, you have another faith. You know, this is the bare essentials, you know, the central thoughts. And so, we keep that term because of its kind of apostolic teaching, not because they wrote it, because it came much, much later. And there were probably earlier credal versions that led to this as being the accepted universal thought.

And because this one is so short, we thought we could jump in and read it as well. But just to kind of contextualize how important this was in church history, the historian Philip Schaff says that as the Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of prayers, the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments is the law of laws. So, the Apostles Creed is the Creed of Creeds, which is exactly what you were getting at. Like it is thought of as being that core central piece. And again, that’s why as we go through the Creeds and we talk about them, we’re going to see a lot of things that are similar, a lot of things that it’s affirming. And that’s where it says, “Hey, these are the boundaries of Christianity.”

So, let’s just kind of go through each stanza. I mean, as in our little devotional book, it’s on day one, page 40. And maybe we’ll each read one of these sections back and forth and just kind of talk a little bit about it. The first stanza, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” It sounds simple enough, but it’s a very profound statement, right?

Yeah, especially when it’s affirming the Creator God. Not to go off on something that could be a lot larger topic, but as people think about what they believe about creation and evolution and theistic evolution, things like that, it affirms from the earliest days that God is Creator. So, no matter what we’re thinking about like origins, the Bible very strongly affirms God as creator of all.

And we are creation, right? So, this immediately separates us from every other religion, even like Islam, because there’s this duality, right? There’s not the oneness that you find in other religions like pantheism, where all is one and everything is God. There is God the Creator and his creation. They are distinct, right? And that gives him the authority. He’s the almighty, right? And authoritative, and he’s distinctive.

And that separates us from every other religion right off the bat, yeah.

Yeah. “And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” And then I’ll just kind of continue, “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost.” So, now we’ve introduced all the members of the Trinity, which again, is one of the very core things in early church history that was a battle. It’s talking about Christ being our Lord, but also the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son being right in the early parts of this Creed.

“Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.” That’s key, that he truly died, you know?

From an apologetics point of view, I’m sure you would point out too that not only that, but we mention a somewhat small unknown person in Rome, Pontius Pilate, in the earliest Creeds. So, it’s grounding it in time and space, yeah.

Christianity isn’t something that should just make you feel good. It should not be something that, “Oh, it works for me.” It’s either something that’s true in history or it’s not. Either Pontius Pilate was there or he wasn’t, right? And so, and if these things happened, then it immediately puts some kind of burden on our lives.

Here’s the controversial one though: “He descended into hell, and he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence, he shall come to judge the living and the dead.” So, what are your thoughts on the descending into hell? What does that mean to you?

There are some different perspectives on that one.

Yeah, yeah, there is. I think that’s one that we’re going to get to, two of them in here. One is the Catholic Church, lowercase ‘c,’ and one has descended into hell. You know, I do tend to think that that is one that probably has more historical purchase or meaning than it does today, like the whole descent into hell and kind of thinking about that in terms of what people were believing, certainly as the Roman Catholic Church was the church. But yeah, I’ll be honest, I kind of struggle with its meaning today. Like, it would not bother me if it was removed. Not that I’m advocating removal, but it wouldn’t bother me.

Well, I mean, it’s a, you know, he was either proclaiming, you know, “I have conquered,” you know? “I am the Lord,” you know? “I will have victory.” Another thought in church history that during the Old Testament, it talks about Sheol, the place of the dead. And so even during the Old Testament, because Christ says, ‘I’m going to go and prepare a place for you,’ so in the death and the resurrection of Jesus, something radical took place. And so in Sheol, where there was a separation of a joyful heavenly-type place and a place of torment, Jesus went and led those captives to the new heavenly realities that they were waiting, something even better.

Yeah, you can read into that what you will.

And so to kind of finish this off, you get into the last section, which is the ‘I believe’ segment. So, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, meaning the Universal Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.’ And then it ends with ‘amen,’ meaning like a sense of agreement.

One thing I would say before we end is, you know, in the Middle Ages, it was common to recite this daily, and that was retained in some things like the book of common prayer that we will cover in future months. So, the importance of the Apostles Creed is it really can’t be overstated.

No, I mean, it’s core understanding. Of course, rightly understood, it’s not the Catholic Church, as in saying the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic means Universal; that’s what the term actually means. It’s not talking about the institution; it’s basically saying I believe that we are all a part of the same assembly. Ultimately, all those who are regenerated, all those who have new hearts, all those who truly trust in a fiduciary, trusting way in Jesus for themselves as their Lord and Savior, that we are all a part of the same universal church. That’s what we’re saying. We believe that the Holy Spirit is God, that Jesus is God, that the Father is God. We believe in these core realities of who God is, and we’re trusting in that historical reality of the life, death, and the resurrection of Jesus for our personal hope and assurance.

Well, thanks again for being with us today. We will see you next time, where we will cover another topic from ‘Be Thou My Vision.’ Yeah, see you next time on the Brandon and Brian Show.


Councils, Creeds, and Confessions | The Brandon & Brian Show

We’re thrilled to announce the return of “The Brandon & Brian Show”! Join Brandon Robbins and Brian Gross as they dive into the foundational elements of our faith journey, exploring the significance of Creeds, Catechisms, Confessions, and Councils, all within the context of our 2024 Church-wide Devotional Plan though Be Thou My Vision by Jonathan Gibson.


Well hello, if you are new to Cross Creek, you probably don’t understand what’s going on here on this little YouTube channel, but this is the remix, our season two, as we say of the Brandon & Brian Show. We did this for Sunday school during COVID and we are bringing it back for another season. So, the writing strike is over and the producers are in line, and we have some marching orders from our pastor, and we’re going to just kind of go through some of the writings and some of the background of the Be Thou My Vision Daily Devotional that we are as a church are trying to use and integrate into our call to worship and in our daily devotion. So, I’m Brandon if you don’t know that already, and I’m Brian. So, welcome to the Brandon & Brian Show once again.

Brian, I’ll just kind of ask you, what are your thoughts about what we’re going to do here? We’re going to have some short, these are going to be little short sessions. So why don’t you just kind of explain what it is that we’re doing?

I think we’re just going to do some intros because Be Thou My Vision introduces catechisms. We’ve done that in our church before but it references several in there that you can do. It’s referencing Creeds, it’s referencing people in church history. So, we want to do some intro videos to really explain what those things are, why we find use in them, maybe some of the history of them, but start off in this intro with really like the Creeds, the catechisms, and the confessions. Like what are these three things? And also, the councils. So, how do they play into this larger picture?

So, we use these words and sometimes someone’s been coming to church for a long time and they might hear these words: Creeds, councils, confessions, catechisms and they don’t know what those are, where they come from, why we have them. So, I guess we’ll just start from the bottom, I mean the oldest, and then kind of move chronologically. So first, we have some things that we call councils that came out with some stuff. So, from your readings Brian, when you think of a church council, what pops into your head?

These church councils are convened to take on the largest issues of the day. So, it’s really twofold. They’re affirming what things are part of Christianity and they’re also addressing heresies or potential heresies. So, in church history, they say that there’s seven ecumenical councils that at least in principle the Orthodox, the Protestant, and the Catholic all agree on. And it’ll actually play into some of the things that we’ll see as far as Creeds. So, there’s a council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed comes out of it. So, you’ll see emphasis on things like the Trinity, things that are being discussed. And so, they’ve gathered all of the thinkers of that region, the Bishops, and they all come to a central place to debate, discuss and hammer them out.

And one thing about the councils, early on it was like how do we understand Jesus, how do we understand the Trinity like you said, what books of the Bible are actually scripture? These were not the assumption is these groups of these Bishops would come together and they would create these doctrines, like they would create. And that’s not how they functioned, right? They functioned in a way that they would kind of ask the question what is it that’s being taught in the Orthodox Church? What is it that we hold to, particularly like what books of the Bible that would come out in the early councils, which what they would ask the question what books are being read in the churches? They didn’t say oh, we like this one, we don’t like this one, right? No, we know that this has Apostolic connection, Apostolic Authority, and we are, you know. And so, when it came to like the hypostatic union or and different controversies would come up right? So, you have the Arian controversy would come up, they would convene a council and they said wait a minute, no, no, Christ is fully God and fully man, that he did not lose his godhood when he came. And so, the council would defend the Orthodox and provide, as you said, a Creed, right?

Exactly, and then those Creeds end up being kind of these boundary markers of Christian thought and non-Christian thought. So, it’s really getting to the essence of the Virgin birth, the nature of the Trinity. You’ll see these especially in this Be Thou My Vision where you’re looking at the different Creeds and they’re repeating a lot of the same things. That’s because that was what was controversial but also still what separates Christian thought from non-Christian thought. So, I think this is kind of the first five centuries approximately after Christ where we get these Creeds. It’s not the full scope of the Christian faith, it’s kind of the essentials of the Christian faith.

Right, and I would like to say we have warrant for the idea of these councils in scripture. So, the very first Council isn’t a communic council, right? It’s the council that met in Jerusalem when the big controversy of the day was okay, this Paul guy is going around and telling these Gentiles that they’re part of the people of God, that they’re part of the eklesia, the church in the assembly. And can they do that without things like circumcision, you know, and being kosher and what they’re doing. And so, scripture shows us this example of how the leaders of the church come together and they make a definitive statement on what is the reality of our truth and what scripture teaches and therefore that goes down, right?

So, anyway, so that’s good. So, there’s councils which were these collections of Bishops and they, in the first particularly the first five centuries of the church and they would come out with different Creeds that we kind of hold to for the essential faiths and then we have these confessions, right? That kind of come out particularly the ones that we talk about and the ones that you’ll find in here are the confessions that were birthed during the Reformation. That’s right, three forums of Unity, Westminster Confession of Faith. So, what’s the difference between a Creed and a confession?

I think of the confessions as we’re kind of coloring now within the lines of like denominational distinctives. So, all of those first-order things are already taken care of, Apostles Creed, Chalcedonian Creed. Those are the who is God, what is God like. So, we are not necessarily dealing with first-order issues anymore. So, you might have a London Baptist confession from 1646, right? So, you’re going to have these different confessions and you certainly have some on the Lutheran side, which may be a good way to think about these are now distinctives of how they view things like the Lord’s Supper. If the Creeds are the skeleton, the confessions are kind of the ligaments and the muscles, built around as the way I think of it.

And they, you know, are constitutional documents, right? Like, so, you know, we are bound, as we, me and you are currently. You know, we’re not on the session, but we are both ruling Elders in the PCA. Once a ruling Elder, always a ruling Elder, you know? They kick you out for some reason. You get a little crazy, we get a little squirrelly with our theology in these lectures, you know?

Right, but we are bound to hold up the confessional standards, right? You know, and so, particularly the Westminster Confession, but not some of these other confessions here, like, you know. So, the Heidelberg is, you know, kind of from the Dutch reform tradition and part of the Three Forms of Unity, which is the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. You know, those are canons, in particular, which is just the Five Points of Calvinism, you know, for the most part. Kind of an affirmation of what we believe as reformed Christians.

But these documents are rich, right? I mean, of course, of course, the joke that I was always told, you know, when I was starting to learn about these confessions is, you know, the Westminster Confession was written by a whole bunch of lawyers and the Heidelberg Catechism was written by poets, right? And if you read the two documents, there’s a lot of truth to that, right?

Yeah, and then I would just say lastly, that the catechisms are how you teach the truth of those things. So, it’s the truth of what’s Christian and non-Christian that came out of the councils and were solidified in the Creeds, and then those denominational distinctives. But it’s also kind of how to teach it to ourselves, and then particularly like new believers and children as well. You and I have both taught communicant classes where children that are ready to make a profession of faith in the church go through this, and the catechisms are great places to go for those kinds of things. So, you’ll see the Westminster and the Heidelberg Catechism both in this book.

And I haven’t looked through all the sections on that just so people know. So, there’s the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is kind of the longer, more descriptive, whole discussion of what we believe as Presbyterians. Then there’s the Larger Catechism, which used to be all the questions a little bit more detail that pastors have always been held to in the history of the church to make sure that they kind of had those memorized. And then you had the Shorter Catechism that was really used for the children. And now we’ve gone down a level over the last couple of hundred years where we’ve made the Children’s Catechism because the Shorter Catechism is too hard for our kids. And the Shorter Catechism is what pastors tend to get grilled on on what they actually have an understanding of. And so, that’s just kind of a funny reality of, you know, we keep moving. We think we, in some ways, we’re moving to greater technological understanding and sophistication of the world, but when it comes to really applying our minds to understanding the faith, you know, these things seem like too much, you know?

Yeah, but yeah, I agree with you. There’s so much richness to what is in here, and that’s what we hope to kind of do some introductions to this material that if you’ve been doing it, you’ve gone through a month now, but just getting a good sense of why these things are being included in a book that we’re looking at in 2024.

All right. I think we’ve kind of done the intro, Brian. So, we’re going to end this first session here, and then we’re going to move on next month, and we’re going to talk about one of the other particular confessions and some details that go into those. Yeah. Thanks. Thank you for watching the Brandon & Brian Show, and we’ll be back soon.