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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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This week's retirement of Pastor James McConnell after some 57 years in the Whitewell Ministries raises the question as to what happens to institutions once the main figure has gone....
In the Church of Ireland, a minister can stay in a parish as long as she or he desires, barring misbehaviour. However, an incumbent can be plucked out very quickly to higher office.
Perhaps the moral of all this is to recognise the reality of life, retirement, frailty and death, and to conclude that, however big or small a leading Church figure may be in his or her day, no individual is bigger than the church itself.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
From Saint John's, Vancouver, Bruce Hindmarsh, the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology, speaks on the Book of Common Prayer which he first encountered as a teenager at a bookstall in a mall in Winnipeg. Listen to it all--wonderfully nurturing and encouraging stuff.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship --Book of Common Prayer Spirituality/Prayer * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
Whenever one is spared an ordeal, initial relief is soon succeeded by a measure of regret that one has been unable to make public the fruits of one’s research. After two weeks in Charleston and five days sitting in the St. George courthouse, the news that I was not to take the stand was hardly a surprise, however, after this morning’s bravura performance by Gettysburg College's Allen Guelzo, who delivered one of the most lucid pieces of witness testimony of the whole trial....
Both Mary Kostel and David Booth Beers did their best with a witness for whom they were unprepared (this is permitted under South Carolina law, as Guelzo was introduced for the purpose of rebuttal of their earlier argument pertaining to the manner in which the national church exercised control over dioceses and states). Kostel focused on the writings of nineteenth century commentators that have been at the center of my counterpart Robert Bruce Mullin’s arguments, but Guelzo fought back, in the process eliciting from the judge the revelation that state law requires that an expert witness have the freedom to offer a critique of a proffered document if he declines to accept it as “learned treatise” (something which came as news to a number of the South Carolina attorneys present for the independent Diocese). Freed from a simple acknowledgment of the statements presented, Guelzo happily explained how most of the advocates of national church hierarchy in the nineteenth century were ritualist partisans and certainly enjoyed no authority from the General Convention to say what they said. Asked for a counter argument from the same era, he proffered Calvin Colton’s Genius and Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (1853), a source of which, I must confess, I was unaware, but which I’ve no doubt fits the bill. The point at issue is that any notion of a churchwide consensus on polity is simply unsustainable. There followed a fruitless set of exchanges between Guelzo and David Beers in which the latter was in fairly short order outmaneuvered, when he attempted to switch the focus to twentieth century canon law, of which Guelzo did not profess to be an expert.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
Yet the approval of women bishops reflects the fact that ecumenical “consensus” is an empty slogan at best. If women in the episcopate are not considered worth such consensus, one must ask, “what is?” And, when the time comes, will there be the means to achieve it? My own concerns mostly lie here: Even if most Anglicans consider this a secondary issue of Christian “truth” or moral imperative, should we not have worked much harder to implement the means of open discussion, debate, and accommodation with our Christian sister churches, if only to fulfill our calling to such a work on its own terms?
Having said that, one decision can never be said to have foreclosed an ecumenical future. I remember well the witness of the late Rev. Dr. Susan Cole-King, one of the Church of England’s first ordained women. She was one of those who were willing to return to England (from the US) and work as a deacon before her orders were recognized there. Cole-King was the daughter of Bp. Leonard Wilson, the Singapore bishop who was tortured by the Japanese during World War II. In 1998, just a couple of years before her untimely death, she spoke at a Lambeth Conference eucharist that had followed a recent statement of repentance by Japanese Anglicans, many years in the making. She referred to her father’s divine gift of forgiveness of his torturers, including one who later became a Christian and whom he personally confirmed. Her father, she said, could forgive in the power of Christ; but true reconciliation, she went on to say, required an “acknowledgement of wrongs done,” “the truth faced,” and “painful self-examination [that] leads to confession and apology.”
Without knowing how it will be parsed out, I can say that there is much of this acknowledgement, truth-facing, examination, and confession still to come among Anglicans and their brethren on the matter of women’s ordination and consecration to the episcopate. As on much else. Our work now is to determine how this will happen.
Read it all.
One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.
Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.
Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
But the oath of conformity was not the chief oath made in the ordination process, as I also explained in that post. Ever since 1550, every Anglican/Episcopal ordinand on both sides of the Atlantic has vowed "to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of CHRIST, as the LORD hath commanded, and as this Church ... hath received the same, according to the commandments of GOD", or words to the same effect. (The current version has it this way: "Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them?")
Now, then, let us return to Canon Harris' question. As he himself appears to recognize, Mark Lawrence eventually was forced, by the course of events leading toward same-sex marriage in ECUSA, to choose between "the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church" and "the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received it" (my bold emphasis).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
In IASCER's response to the Lutheran document The Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church particular note was taken of the patristic tradition concerning episcopal ministry:
"Historians commonly agree that there are three principal images or models of the office of a bishop in the pre-Nicene church, which are best exemplified in Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, and Cyprian. For Ignatius, the bishop is primarily the one who presides at the eucharist. This is central for Ignatius because of his understanding of the nature of the church. For Ignatius, then, the bishop is ... the one who presides at ... the eucharistic liturgy.
Irenaeus, on the other hand, while echoing the eucharistic teaching of Ignatius, places primary emphasis on the bishop's role as teacher of the faith. The context here is the conflict with Gnosticism. For Irenaeus, the bishop is above all the one who preserves the continuity of the apostolic teaching in unbroken succession from the apostles. It is through the bishop's faithful proclamation of the Gospel in each local church that the unity of the church and the continuity of the church in the apostolic tradition is preserved.
For Cyprian, the bishop serves as the bond of unity between the local church and the universal church. Here the collegial aspect of the bishop's role comes to the fore. The Bishop is one member of a worldwide ‘college’ of bishops who are together responsible for maintaining the unity of the churches. Cyprian’s primary emphasis, therefore, is upon the bishop as the bond of unity between the local church and the church universal.
In each of theses models, therefore, the bishop is the sign of unity between the local and the universal church, either through the maintenance of eucharistic communion, continuity in apostolic teaching, or common oversight of the churches.
My brothers, you are entering the Episcopal ministry within the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is being severely challenged in each of the three related areas of the patristic tradition concerning Episcopal ministry. I refer to:
* The maintenance of eucharistic communion
* Continuity and apostolic teaching.
* Oversight of the churches.
The present impaired state of the Communion is due mainly to actions taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in respect of human sexuality with special reference to the consecration of a bishop living in an opened homosexual relationship....
Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya West Indies * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions Parish Ministry * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The liveliest discussion during the opening session of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council June 10-12 meeting here surrounded how much money the General Convention ought to ask dioceses to contribute to the church-wide budget – and what should be done about dioceses that do not pay the full amount.
The discussion took the form of an informal poll of council members by Diocese of Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission. FFM, as the committee is known, is in the process of helping to shape the draft 2016-2019 budget that council must construct by February 2015. Hollingsworth gave each council member 30 seconds to share what they are hearing around the church about the budget-funding process, and what they think ought to be done.
In the 2013-2015 triennium, dioceses are asked to contribute 19 percent of their annual income to help fund the church-wide budget. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Executive Council TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
A spokeswoman from the cathedral said:...“Patterns of ministry and worship have changed enormously and the Church of England is now trying to resolve disputes about women bishops and sexuality. Recently, a former Archbishop of Canterbury raised the possibility that the Church of England might be ‘one generation away from extinction’. Nobody, or course, knows what future holds – but in this lecture Dr Andrew Chandler will explore and discuss this period of ‘decline’ and suggest ways in which the church at large might assess its prospects now.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Education History * Theology Ecclesiology
"Our expectations are to be God's expectations" for the church."
Listen to it all if you so desire.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Pentecost Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
Renewal in the Spirit
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion
‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.
St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.
And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ‘communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ‘ourselves, our souls and bodies’.
When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.
From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ‘prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.
Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues – equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.
All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ‘new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ‘Abba, Father!’
It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.
But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.
We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.
It may be said – quite understandably, in one way – that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.
Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ‘perfect’ – people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.
More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.
A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.
But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.
And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.
I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.
I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.
In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus – to take a very different kind of example – there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.
Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.
But if we do conclude that some public marks of ‘distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.
We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body – especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.
One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.
‘We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ‘kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Pentecost * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Orthodox leaders who are willing to name our present situation as unacceptable and untenable are being attacked as undermining the unity of the church. Expect to hear “You troubler of Israel” (2 Kings 18:17) directed at those who will not be silent about the unfaithfulness of our leaders and the crisis we are facing.
But don’t be fooled. Those who are breaking the covenant that holds us together while loudly calling for more conversation have no real desire to hear our voices or consider our views. They wish to maintain the illusion of unity until enough orthodox United Methodists have walked away or died off, so that a liberal view of the Scriptures and a progressive sexual ethic become the rule.
Good News and the 60 leaders mentioned above will be condemned for disrupting the unity of the UM Church – in fact, we already have been. But unity without integrity is not unity. And a plea for unity by those who are destroying it is a ploy. Naming the present reality for what it is does not disrupt unity – it is essential if unity is ever to be achieved.
God once chided those who cried, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). And we will not be guilty of crying, “Unity, unity,” to hide the reality that if we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
...the specifics are still pretty fuzzy. Will it be a formal ecumenical council, with leaders from the two faiths earnestly trying to reconcile their theological differences? Or will it be just what Bartholomew said—a celebration, full of meaningful dialogue but little actual change? Hard to tell, says Rocco Palmo, the author of the blog Whispers in the Loggia.
"It's 12 years away," he pointed out. Trying to predict what will happen in 2025 is like an extreme version of confidently declaring who will be president of the United States in 2016—there's just no way to know. Plus, Francis and Bartholomew are both in their 70s. Bartholomew said the pair wanted to leave this council "as a legacy to ourselves and our successors," which seems like an acknowledgment that they could both be dead—or retired—11 years from now.
There's also the challenge of getting Catholics and Orthodox Christians on board for whatever they want to do. "If the pope wants to do this, the Catholic side will be lined up, but if the ecumenical patriarch wants to, some will come and some will not," Palmo said. Bartholomew is the archbishop of Constantinople, meaning that he is "the first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox churches, but he doesn't have power over other patriarchs.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ecclesiology
On his return from Jerusalem , where he met with Pope Francis at the Holy Sepulchre, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has revealed an important appointment for unity between Catholics and Orthodox: a gathering at Nicaea in 2025, where the first real ecumenical council of the undivided Church was celebrated.
Speaking exclusively with AsiaNews, Bartholomew says that together with Pope Francis "we agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries , the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated".
Read it all.
We respect and love Greg dearly. We recognize all too well the emotions and felt needs that led him to seek peace for his family, and a stable church situation. Those of us with children recognize the need to avoid non-Christian expressions of false gospels, as are found among so many leaders of The Episcopal Church; we also recognize the desire to find a sane and functional entity to join, and grant that currently Roman Catholicism provides structures that are sane and functional even as Anglican entities in the US do not. Those of us in Episcopal dioceses led by bishops who do not share the same faith also recognize the deep division that exists between layperson and clergy or bishop when the two do not share the same faith or preach the same gospel; it is a very challenging place to be as an Anglican.
Greg’s heartfelt statement of explanation as to how he came to make such a decision is a devastating indictment both on his former Episcopal bishop, Duncan Gray, as well as on conservative Anglicans throughout the US....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Children Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
...for me, a move to Rome is not about a revolution in my theology, and certainly not about a rejection of Anglicanism. It is about a very painful choice between two dilemmas:
On the one hand there is Anglicanism, an expression of faith that in the abstract - its doctrines and theology - is as nearly perfect as I believe man has ever succeeded in achieving, but which in practice has unraveled into a chaotic mess. There is of course the heresy and false teaching that infects all but a handful of Episcopal parishes in this diocese - including its bishop, its cathedral, its dean, almost all of its clergy, and a distressing number of the few laypeople who have made the effort to pay attention and learn what’s happening - but the promise of the orthodox Anglican movement outside of The Episcopal Church never materialized either. Populated as that movement is by many good people, it has the institutional feeling of something held together by duct tape and baling wire. It is beset by infighting and consecration fever, and in several of its highest leadership positions are people of atrocious judgement and character.
On the other hand there is Roman Catholicism, some of whose doctrines give me serious pause, but which in practice has shown itself to be steadfast in its opposition to the caprices of the world. Even the horrific pedophile priest scandal forces one to concede that Pope Benedict’s purging of the ranks, while not complete, was at the very least spirited, and based on a firm rejection of the “everything is good” sexual sickness that’s all but killed the Episcopal Church.
Read it all.
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Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders.
But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.
Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054.
Moves toward closer understanding followed, but differences remain on issues such as married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican.
Read or listen to it all.
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The way to pray for a desolate church is to remember past mercies, and be encouraged that God never changes.
Verse 15: "And now, O Lord our God, who didst bring thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand . . . " Daniel knew that the reason God saved Israel from Egypt was not because Israel was so good. Psalm 106:7–8,
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider thy wonderful works; they did not remember the abundance of thy steadfast love, but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power.
Prayer for a desolate church is sustained by the memory of past mercies. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If God saved a rebellious people once at the Red Sea, he can save them again. So when we pray for a desolate church, we can remember brighter days that the church has known, and darker days from which she was saved.
This is why church history is so valuable. There have been bad days before that God had turned around. The papers this week have been full of statistics of America's downward spiral into violence and corruption. Church history is a great antidote to despair at times like this. For example, to read about the moral decadence and violence of 18th century England before God sent George Whitefield and John Wesley is like reading today's newspapers.
Read it all.
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Even in our settled congregations--some of them of long standing--there occasionally occurs so much indifference to the sustaining of even the profession of religion, and the making of provision for the administration of its ordinances, as that while their neglect renders them subjects of censure, it ought also to he an excitement of our zeal. Even in such congregations, there are always at least a few persons, who are ready to "strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die." And even if there were none such, those of the contrary stamp are not out of the reach of that voice of the gospel which is raised, "not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." We have the satisfaction of knowing, that the call has been made with great effect, even in congregations of the description which has [7/8] been stated. And this, we hope, will serve as encouragement to those who are ready to do their part of the work of God, leaving the issue of their labour to the influences of his Holy Spirit.
It ought further to he taken into view, that even in neighbourhoods wherein provision is made for the exercise of the ministry, and congregations are duly organized, according to the venerable institutions of the Church; there are powerful incitements to zeal and labour, that we may call sinners to repentance; that we may direct the attention of professors beyond the forms, to the power of Godliness; that we may guard the imperfectly informed, against the errors engrafted by the weakness of men on the holy stock of Christian doctrine; that we may open all the branches of this in their integrity, as found in the Word of Truth; and that we may urge persons of all descriptions, to the attainment and the practice of whatever may contribute to the adorning of the doctrine of our rod and Saviour. It is not here forgotten, that for the accomplishing of these blessed ends, "although Paul plant and Apollos water," it is "God alone who giveth the increase." But he sees fit, as well in the influences of his grace as in the dealings of his providence, to produce his high ends by the instrumentality of human means. And in each of these departments, the duties of all of us are discernible from the relations and from the circumstances in which we severally stand.
While we thus hold out to all the members of our communion, the gospel work which we conceive to he laid on them by the divine Author of our religion; we are not backward to extend their attention to some articles of advice and exhortation, which we think especially worthy of notice, for the accomplishing of the ends which we have in view.
The first, and as essential to all the rest, is mutual incitement to the work; and this, in the Christian Spirit, which alone can either render it an object worthy of considerable exertion, or claim the promise of divine support. We read in one of the prophets, that when a general reformation was in prospect, "they who feared the Lord spake often one to another," it being evidently meant in mutual incitement, to the object of their common concern.
Read it all but no fair clicking the link until you guess the year it was written.
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The most information the official press releases provided came in the final release sent right after the meeting closed yesterday:
“In further conversations about the adaptive challenges facing The United Methodist Church, the residential bishops noted that Christ calls them to be in union with him, with one another, and with the Church. They recognized that they are called to lead according to the example of Jesus Christ during a challenging time within the church. Disagreements about human sexuality threaten to divide the church; and while there will be differing understandings, the bishops are called to be bishops of the whole church and to lead the church through such challenges. The residential bishops had conversations about how they could carry out the Book of Discipline and lead during this time. The conversation involved listening and forthright discussion in a covenant of grace-filled hospitality and truth-telling. No decisions or agreements were reached during these conversations.”
Read it all.
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Most promising for such future conversation was the extent of common ground uncovered. All three interlocutors were willing to grant that the Church of Rome is a part of the body of Christ, a diseased part, perhaps, but still a part of us whose sufferings and triumphs we can share in, and whose healing we desire, not some alien entity to be scorned or ignored.
All three speakers granted that some kind of reunion with Rome (and with Orthodoxy) must be eventual goals for Protestantism, which could not think of itself as the sole bearer of the church’s future. All three insisted therefore that Protestantism should be characterized more by its positive witness than by a negative self-definition over against its enemies. All three also managed to agree that the content of this witness was largely set by the terms of the early Protestant confessions, that the solas of the Reformation constituted fundamental truths that must remain the ground of future Protestant ecumenical engagement. Finally, all agreed that the best forms of ecumenism, for the foreseeable future at least, should be local and ad hoc, involving such small but powerful gestures as learning to pray with and for local Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Before moving on to the inevitable frustrated question, “Well where do they disagree then?” we ought first to marvel at, and take encouragement from, this substantial common ground.
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Even in a church full of surrendered believers, human frailty alone will lead to problems. But many problems in the church are caused by sin. And we are never told to stay put in our sinfulness. Paul expected the Corinthian church to change and grow. God expects the same progress in our churches today.
Yes, the church is holy because God, on the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness, proclaims it so. But if we desire to move beyond being called holy—if we desire to be holy—then we must cooperate with such grace. In this sense, the holiness of the church is dependent on the holiness of its people. But always and forever, the holiness of its people is dependent on the sanctifying grace of God, who is in essence holy love.
We are God's people. The church is God's church. God, help us to become who we are.
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American Lutherans became a full part of American Protestantism just in time to participate in its decline. From its high of more than 9 million members in 1965, the total number of American Lutherans declined to just over 7 million in 2013, representing about 2 percent of the American population. Though Lutheran numbers generally plateaued through the 1970s and 1980s, both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod have declined markedly over the past 25 years. The ELCA went from 5.2 million members in 1988 to 3.9 million in 2013; the LCMS declined less severely, from 2.7 million members in 1988 to 2.3 million in 2013. The decline in giving to the national programs and offices of these two denominations is also fairly dramatic, though more pronounced in the ELCA.
Besides suffering from the same negative demographic trends facing other mainline Protestant denominations in this period—aging membership and an inability to retain younger members—the ELCA since 2000 has witnessed the departure of nearly 500,000 members who have coalesced into two new and distinct centrist Lutheran denominations: the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (2001) and the North American Lutheran Church (2010). Though the scale of these departures is noteworthy in itself, this development is all the more interesting for the new patterns and new directions that these denominations are attempting to develop. Their rejection of the ELCA (and implicitly the LCMS) has forced them to experiment with new ways of being Lutheran Christians in the American context, and they are actively exploring these possibilities.
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I don’t relish writing about the same thing over and over (especially in light of World Vision’s stunning and humble reversal of their two day-old hiring policy). Believe me, if there were never the need to talk about homosexuality again, no one would cheer louder than me. But that’s not the world we live in. So here’s one more post.
I received an email yesterday afternoon to this effect: Could someone please give a short, simple explanation as to why the issue of homosexuality is not like Christians differing on baptism or the millennium? Many Christians are willing to say homosexuality is wrong, but they’d rather not argue about it. Why not broker an “agree to disagree” compromise? Why can’t we be “together for the gospel” despite our differing views on gay marriage? Why is this issue any different?
1. Approving of homosexual behavior violates the catholicity of the church.
Read it all.
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The starting point and the guide for this journey is the one given to us by Pope Francis: “the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality that is both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens and suffering, just like the rest of life.” We will seek to deepen our understanding of the theology of the family and of the pastoral care that we must exercise in today’s world.” “All this we will do,” confirmed Pope Francis, “in depth and without tripping into that ‘casuistry’ that would inevitably diminish the value of our work.” The Holy Father emphasized that in today’s world the family is looked down on and treated badly and that what we are called on to do is make known how beautiful, and true and good it is to create a family, to be a family in today’s world, and how the world, and the future of all human kind, cannot do without the family. Our task is to show the world God’s shining plan for families, to help married couples live out that plan with joy, and to be there for them with a shepherd’s care that is wise, brave and full of love” (Pope Francis’ Opening Discourse to the Special Consistory on the Family, February twentieth, 2014)
This is what we will do as we look toward the Meeting in Philadelphia: we will be there for all the families of the world with a shepherd’s care that is “wise,” and “brave” and “full of love.” Wisdom in understanding what families face today, bravery in taking on today’s many and complex problems; and love in helping to resolve those problems in the light of the Gospel of the Family and of Life. We will deal with many issues in our wise, brave and loving work together: theology of the family, married spirituality and holiness, ecclesiology and pastoral care for families, the family in contemporary culture, immigration and the family, the family and ecumenism.
Read it all.
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As mainline Protestant denominations continue decades of decline, one of the main institutions helping educate its leaders announced Wednesday (March 19) that it will shut its doors.
Since it was founded four decades ago, the Virginia-based Alban Institute has guided mostly mainline congregations through consulting and publishing. Its founder and former president, the Rev. Loren Mead, became well-known for his speaking and writing about the future of U.S. denominations and was one of the first to predict denominational decline.
“When I started as a parish pastor, I found there wasn’t much help or continuing education,” said Mead, a retired Episcopal priest. “I am glad I have been able to contribute to the church, but I have not been able to solve its turnaround.”
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“The very essence of the Church’s life is that she is pressing forward to the fulfillment of God’s purpose and the final revelation of His glory, pressing forward both to the ends of the earth and to the end of the world, rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God.- From The Household of God, p. 132, a section of which was just quoted by Bishop Lawrence in his Convention address
The treasure entrusted to her is not for herself, but for the doing of the Lord’s will, not for hoarding but for trading.
Her life is to be forever spent, to be cast into the ground like a corn of wheat, in the ever-new faith and hope of the resurrection harvest. Her life is precisely life under the sign of the Cross, which means that she desires to possess no life, no security, no righteousness of her own, but to live solely by His grace.
When she becomes settled, when she becomes so much at home in this world that she is no longer content to be forever striking her tents and moving forward, above all when she forgets that she lives simply by God’s mercy and begins to think that she has some claim on God’s grace which the rest of the world has not, when in other words she thinks of her election in terms of spiritual privilege rather than missionary responsibility, then she comes under His merciful judgment as Israel did.”
The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.--From the final text on which i will be giving a presentation later today
It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
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For those who are waiting for a full reversal of church prohibitions, the dismissal of the Ogletree complaint is not enough.
Dorothee Benz of Methodists in New Directions, an advocacy group that has provided direct support to the retired pastor, commended McLee’s “very bold step” to find “a new way out of this problem,” and said the time for complacency is over....
“I’m heartened, but we’re not there,” said Lyn Ellis, co-coordinator of Affirmation, a long-time advocacy group. “Justice can’t be served if this can happen again.”
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I am disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey. Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.
The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.
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4 years ago, missionary Doug Millar was frustrated by the lackluster amount of conversions in his Mayan village of Chan Chen, Mexico. Despite a steady stream of short-term mission teams, next to no one in the village had become a Christian.
Ministry partner Randy Carruth suggested a solution: Invite Native Americans.
In March 2013, after three such trips by Carruth's I Am Able Ministries, 25 to 30 Mayans attended the village's first worship service. Less than a year later, Millar's church has grown to 200.
It's not an isolated case. With many Native American communities reporting signs of revival and church growth, missions leaders are increasingly trying to send these missionaries to other indigenous groups worldwide.
Read it all.
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The sad reality is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Although it is reported that only one bishop voted against the guidance, it is also being claimed that a significant number, even a majority, are not personally happy with it. The reactions to the guidance make clear just how extensive the divisions are in the wider church and thus how difficult the environment for the facilitated conversations is going to be. They also perhaps highlight two areas where the conversations need to focus their attention but which were largely unaddressed by the Pilling Report:
(1) What doctrine of marriage should the Church have and how should it then bear faithful witness to that in ordering its own life and in mission in a wider society which recognises same-sex marriage? and
(2) What is to be done, what new church structures may be needed, so that those who find themselves unable to accept the conclusions on the doctrine of marriage and its practical implications can faithfully bear witness to their understanding of marriage without undermining the mind of the majority or condemning the Church of England to continuing destructive conflict over this issue?
Read it all and Pt I is here.
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Well, you could knock me down with a feather duster. The Pope is looking into the subject of gay marriage. According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Holy Father said to him that "rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people". OK, it's hardly a new Vatican policy. But language matters. And in the week of the first anniversary of Francis's appointment as pope, it is worth recognising how far the language has come.
But things are going to change even faster for the Church of England over the next few weeks. With gay marriage becoming a legal reality on 29 March, it is certain that a number of clergy will be looking to get hitched, in direct defiance of the wishes of their bishops who have vaguely warned of disciplinary action if they do. But the truth is that the bishops can actually do very little about it. The following is slightly nerdish stuff, but for the likes of north London vicar Reverend Andrew Cain, now preparing for his nuptials, it is crucial. Writing on my Facebook page last night, the Bishop of Buckingham explained the clergy discipline measure:
"Its Section 7 lays down that matters of doctrine and worship are not justiciable under the measure, but must be tried under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963. Insomniacs may remember that around 10 years ago there was a proposal to have a Clergy Discipline Measure type measure for doctrine and worship cases but it failed. The legal trail leads from here to section 39 of the EJM63. The maximum penalty it lays down for a first offence is a rude letter telling you not to do it again – which hopefully people getting married won't."
Of course, the bishops could pretend that clergy getting married is not a matter of doctrine, but this would be a bit of a problem given that they have been going round telling everyone that it is.
Read it all.
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Thank you for your news story on Monday entitled “Church ready to split from England on Homosexuals.”
I would like to make a very important clarification, and hope you will publish this clarification as widely as you did the first story, because the story paints a very misleading picture of the Church of Uganda’s actual relationship with the Church of England.
Read it all.
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The elements of Benedict's "hermeneutic of reform" are nothing new in the life of the Church. Both Yves Congar in the 1960s and John Henry Newman in the late 1800s made exactly the same arguments for genuine reform: the application of a principle of internal ressourcement is the only way to a true expression of catholicity. Here I quote from Congar and Newman respectively:
"There are only two possible ways of bringing about renewal or updating. You can either make the new element that you want to put forward normative, or you can take as normative the existing reality that needs to be updated or renewed ... You will end up with either a mechanical updating in danger of becoming both a novelty and a schismatic reform, on the one hand, or a genuine renewal (a true development) that is a reform in and of the Church, on the other hand."It is no mere coincidence that both Newman and Congar are universally recognised as being two of the great "prophets" who shaped the reforming agenda taken up by the Second Vatican Council.
"Those [developments] which do but contradict and reverse the course of doctrine which has been developed before them, and out of which they spring, are certainly corrupt; for a corruption is a development in that very stage in which it ceases to illustrate, and begins to disturb, the acquisitions gained in its previous history."
Any analysis of the reception of the Council in the life of the Church today, any contemporary call for reform in the life of the Church precipitated by current events and times, and any reform proposed by Pope Francis, would do well to keep in mind the elements by which genuine ecclesial reform will happen. As a theological friend from outside of the Catholic tradition has recently put it, "No one who has not learned to be traditional can dare to innovate."
Read it all.
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Please take the time to read them in order (from bottom to top). An excerpt follows:
My experience at both Trinity and Nashotah House has led me to conclude:
1. You can be an Anglican seminary outside the control of the Episcopal Church and still survive.
2. You cannot be a seminary in the Episcopal Church and remain orthodox.
In witness to that, I point to the following news I received today: Bishop Iker Resigns in Protest From Nashotah House Board (because Bp. Salmon has invited Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach in Nashotah House's Chapel), an event that is shocking and tragic to many alumni.
Just as my "getting the House in Trouble" by reaching out to the AMiA and the ACNA and starting a congregation in the seminary chapel may have been the low point (as some would reckon it) of my deanship, the scandal of inviting Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach in the seminary chapel will probably go down as the low point of Bp. Salmon's deanship. I can only say that I would put the low point of my deanship up against the low point of Bp. Salmon's deanship any day. (I would also gladly compare the high points of my deanship with the high points of his.)
In Bp. Salmon's first interview as Dean and President, Doug LeBlanc reported:
Salmon said he plans to strengthen relationships, both among seminary faculty and staff and between the seminary and bishops of the Episcopal Church. (Emphasis added.)
Well, now we see where that has led, don't we? Salmon is further quoted as saying,
"The name of leadership is relationships - people connecting with each other and working together," he said. "Our broken relationships in the Church are a testimony against the Gospel."
No, Bishop, the heterodoxy of the Episcopal Church, in general, and of Katharine Jefferts Schori, in particular, are a testimony against the Gospel. We are called to separate ourselves from false teachers; and a shepherd, whether of a diocese, a parish, or a seminary, is called to protect his flock from wolves. In the words of the ordination vows Bishop Salmon took: “Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to do the same?” To lead a seminary like Nashotah House in these days, and to fail to keep that ordination vow, is to see your seminary turn into another Seabury-Western, or General, or worse.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
Solidarity with the persecuted Church is an obligation of Christian faith. Reflecting on how well each of us has lived that obligation is a worthy point on which to examine one’s conscience during Lent. And that brings me to a suggestion: Revive the ancient tradition of daily readings from the Roman Martyrology this coming Lent by spending 10 minutes a day reading John Allen’s new book, The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution (Image).
The longtime Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and CNN’s senior Vatican analyst, Allen has recently moved to the Boston Globe as associate editor, where he (and we) will see if talent and resources can combine to deepen a mainstream media outlet’s coverage of all things Catholic, both in print and on the Web. Meanwhile, Allen will continue the Roman work that has made him the best Anglophone Vatican reporter ever—work that has given him a unique perspective on the world Church, and indeed on world Christianity. His extensive experience across the globe, and his contacts with everyone who’s anyone in the field of international religious freedom issues, makes him an ideal witness to what he calls, without exaggeration, a global war on Christian believers.
Read it all.
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Chris Young will become a pioneer in the Diocese of Davenport this summer when he is ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Bishop Martin J. Amos.
Young, 53, is a married, former Episcopal priest, and Pope Francis has given Bishop Amos permission to ordain for the diocese him under a 1980 pastoral provision admitting former Episcopal priests who have become Catholic into the Catholic priesthood.
Under the provision, more than 100 men have been ordained to the Catholic priesthood in U.S. dioceses since 1983.
Read it all.
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Over the past several years, the U.S. Episcopal Church has filed church property lawsuits against churches and dioceses that have chosen to cut ties with the denomination over theological differences. Conservative Episcopalians have left, denouncing what they believe is the denomination's departure from scriptural authority and traditional Anglicanism....
Anglican Church of North America Archbishop Robert Duncan told Institute on Religion and Demography, "This is a tragic and unwise decision that threatens the future of Nashotah House." Duncan also serves on the seminary's Board of Trustees.
The seminary's dean, Salmon, explained that the decision came after Deacon Terry Star of North Dakota, a student at Nashotah and member of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, said that Schori had advised him against attending the seminary. Two other female Episcopal students said they were also discouraged from attending the seminary. "All three said she should be invited to come and see ACNA and TEC in harmony," Salmon said, according to IRD. "No one here is fighting with anybody."
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The most remarkable thing about the Pope’s message to American Pentecostal leaders was not the cordial, open-armed welcome from the Holy Father to a group of separated brethren–in their own way all the popes in the last fifty years have done the same. Okay–the informal use of a cell phone video was pretty amazing, but the real news story in all of this is not so much the moving welcome from the Holy Father, but the appearance of Bishop Tony Palmer on the world stage as an “Anglican bishop”.
This has been missed by every other commentator because I think they are unaware of the huge shifts within the world of Anglicanism. To understand this one has to first understand historic Anglicanism. We all know it was started by King Henry VIII because he wanted a divorce and Pope Clement wouldn’t give him one. Well, it was more complicated than that, but the fact is, this crisis precipitated the foundation of the Anglican Church. In the centuries to follow wherever the English went they took their church with them. Thus we find the Anglican Communion all over the world in what were English colonies.
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Not only were the mainline denominations beset by divisive internal controversy; they were simultaneously smitten by a wasting disease, whose agent is variously identified but whose presence is plain. Their theological, demographic, and financial declines are related and continue unchecked. They are already too internally riven to pay much attention to division from others.
The ecumenical movement centered on “the dialogues” was carried by these now distracted and enfeebled bodies and the Roman Catholic Church. And there is no one to pick up the burden on the Protestant side. Evangelicals are rarely bothered by questions of eucharistic fellowship — or by sacramental matters generally — and when they do think about such fellowship they assume that they are all in it anyway. In the dialogue days, when a meeting included evangelicals they would regularly demand moving from worries about sacramental fellowship to more interesting matters.
So what do we do now? I think the first thing is to remember that we pray for something we will not do: “thy Kingdom come.” God will take care of that, and when he does he will sort out his Church in ways that will surely surprise us. It may happen any minute, so let us keep on praying for the unity of the Church.
If there is to be a long meantime, perhaps we may suppose that God will be up to something in it.
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Addressing a delegation from Finland, Pope Francis stressed the importance of ecumenism and faith in a society where God is becoming less present.
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The Book of Common Prayer and its liturgical descendants are the elements of Anglicanism that will be preserved for former Anglicans and Episcopalians who have entered the Catholic Church will preserve in the new Anglican Ordinariate, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has reported.
In November 2009, Pope Benedict released the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, creating a permanent home for Anglicans who wish to be reconciled to the Catholic Church but hoped to retain portions of their “Anglican patrimony”. In an interview published in the December issue of The Portal, Mgr. Steven Lopes of the CDF defined this distinctive “patrimony”.
“We here have thought a lot about what constitutes Anglican patrimony, particularly as it involves the liturgy, and we have a working definition. It is to say that ‘Anglican liturgical patrimony is that which has nourished the Catholic Faith, within the Anglican tradition during the time of ecclesiastical separation, and has given rise to this new desire for full communion’,” Mgr. Lopes said.
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This little treatise begins with giving an application of the Rule of St. Vincent to some theological questions concerning faith and practice. St. Vincent's name is a household one in our Communion, especially since the Reformation. He was often quoted by the Reformers and Anglican divines in their controversy with Rome. In his disputation at Oxford, Ridley said, when doubts arose in the Church, "I use the wise counsel of Vincentius Lirinensis, whom I am sure you will allow; who, giving precepts how the Catholic Church may be, in all schisms and heresies, known, writeth on this manner: 'When,' saith he, 'one part is corrupted with heresies then prefer the whole world before the one part: but if the greatest part be infected then prefer antiquity."'
On the southern coast of France, there is an island called St. Honorat. It had in Vincent's time the name of Lerins. A quite famous monastery flourished there. Under the discipline of its holy religious rule and the Church's sacramental system, St. Vincent's mind and character were developed.
It was about the year 434 that his short treatise appeared. The controversies which had been raging in the Church led him to put forth his little book as a practical guide for a Churchman in times of trouble. He must, through Divine assistance, fortify his faith in a two-fold manner: by authority of the Divine Law, and by the tradition of the Church. "Catholics," he said, "and true sons of the Church will make it their special care to interpret the Divine Canon by the tradition of the universal Church and according to the rules of Catholic theology. Wherein it is also necessary to follow the universality, antiquity, and consent of the Catholic and Apostolic Church."
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“This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.”--J.F. Powers’ Wheat that Springeth Green (New York: New York Review Books Classics edition of the 1988 original, 2000), p. 170
And nowe we exhorte you, in the name of oure LORDE Jesus Christe, to have in remembraunce, into howe hyghe a dignitie, and to howe chargeable an offyce ye bee called, that is to saye, to be the messengers, the watchemen, the Pastours, and the stewardes of the LORDE to teache, to premonisshe [=warn], to feede, and provyde for the Lordes famylye: to seeke for Christes shepe that be dispersed abrode, and for hys children whiche bee in the myddest of thys naughtye worlde, to be saved through Christe for ever. Have alwayes therfore printed in your remembraunce, howe great a treasure is committed to your charge, for they be the shepe of Chryste, whiche he boughte with hys death, and for whom he shed his bloud. The churche and congregacion whom you must some, is his spouse and his body. And if it shall chaunce the same churche, or any membre therof, to take any hurt or hinderaunce, by reason of youre negligence, ye knowe the greatnesse of the faulte, and also of the horrible punishment which will ensue. Wherfore, consider with yourselves the end of your ministery, towardes the chyldren of God, towarde the spouse and body of Christ, and see that ye never cease your laboure, your care and dilygence, untill you have doen all that lieth in you, accordynge to your bounden dutie, to bryng all suche as are, or shalbe commytted to youre charge, unto that agremente in faith, and knowledge of God, and to that ripenes, and perfectnesse of age in Christe, that there be no place left emong them, either for errour in Religion, or for viciousnesse in lyfe.
God speaks to us through His Church. We all need two conversions. We need to be converted from sin and take Christ for our Saviour, and to be converted to the Church and have her for our Mother. If a person has only experienced one of these operations he is only a half converted man.--Bishop Charles Grafton, Catholicity and the Vincentian Rule from The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton, Volume 6 (B. Talbot Rogers ed., New York: Longmans, Green, 1914), p. 184
Mother Church, like any other mother, expects her young children whom she gathers about her knees and teaches them her Catechism, to believe what she says, because she sits in the seat of authority and is wiser than they. But with true solicitude for their welfare, she desires them not to remain in the infant class, and believe merely because she says so, but to exercise their own powers of reason and understanding and come to see that her teaching is true for themselves. So in corroboration of her teaching she points them to the Holy Scriptures and Tradition. "If any one wishes," says St. Vincent, "to fortify himself with the Catholic faith" (notice he does not say demonstrate the truth of it), "he must do so by the authority of the Divine Law and the tradition of the Catholic Church."
...the launch by the Church of England of a phone app that gives the prayers and Bible readings of the day might short-circuit the arcana of religious practice. You could say your prayers with the help of your smartphone on the top deck of a bus.
Or it could be doubly alienating: a barrier for those who don’t know what worshippers get up to at Evensong, to whom Mag and Nunc sound like the names of glove-puppets, and a parallel wall excluding those who don’t really know what an app is. There are such folk.
I’ve just test-driven the ordinary online content provided (free) on the Church of England website by clicking on the link “Join us in Daily Prayer”....
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Pope Francis said the church must pay attention to the 'sense of the faithful' ('sensus fidelium') when exercising its teaching authority, but never confuse that sense with popular opinion on matters of faith.
The pope made his comments Dec. 6, in an address to members of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory body.
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I for one applauded the move of John Paul II to explain that Episcopal Conferences, unlike the Universal Roman Primacy and unlike the Local Primacy of the Bishop in his own Church, do not have any existence by divine right. And I very much doubt if the papal title 'Patriarch of the West' is any older than the Byzantinising of Pope Gregory I. And so when Benedict XVI, as one of his first moves, divested himself in the Annuario Pontificio of the title 'Patriarch of the West', "Goodie", I cried, "at last we have pope who knows what he isn't".
We Anglican Catholics know what Intermediate Primacies can lead to if left without a check or a balance. They can lead to the mess that the Anglican Communion finds itself in. They lead to the concept of the Infallible Local Synod whose heretical decisions are irreformable.
They can lead to self-righteous schism.
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What about what some call the greatest mission field, which is our own secularizing or secularized culture? What do we need to do to reach this increasingly pagan society? I think we need to say to one another that it’s not so secular as it looks. I believe that these so-called secular people are engaged in a quest for at least three things. The first is transcendence. It’s interesting in a so-called secular culture how many people are looking for something beyond. I find that a great challenge to the quality of our Christian worship. Does it offer people what they are instinctively looking for, which is transcendence, the reality of God?
The second is significance. Almost everybody is looking for his or her own personal identity. Who am I, where do I come from, where am I going to, what is it all about? That is a challenge to the quality of our Christian teaching. We need to teach people who they are. They don’t know who they are. We do. They are human beings made in the image of God, although that image has been defaced.
And third is their quest for community. Everywhere, people are looking for community, for relationships of love. This is a challenge to our fellowship. I’m very fond of 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.” The invisibility of God is a great problem to people. The question is how has God solved the problem of his own invisibility? First, Christ has made the invisible God visible. That’s John’s Gospel 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
People say that’s wonderful, but it was 2,000 years ago. So in 1 John 4:12, he begins with exactly the same formula, nobody has ever seen God. But here John goes on, “If we love one another, God abides in us.” The same invisible God who once made himself visible in Jesus now makes himself visible in the Christian community, if we love one another. And all the verbal proclamation of the gospel is of little value unless it is made by a community of love.
These three things about our humanity are on our side in our evangelism, because people are looking for the very things we have to offer them.
You may find the whole article from which it comes there. I quoted this at the early morning service sermon this past Sunday--KSH.
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You say in The Church for the World that Christian public witness has gone awry in the United States. How so?
The main problem is that Christian presence in public life tends to be triumphalistic. The purpose of Christian witness is to point to Jesus and the reign of God he embodies, but a triumphal presence actually contradicts Jesus’ way of being in the world as depicted in the Gospels.
The triumphal character of Christian witness has contributed a good deal to how polarized our society and churches have become. Christians so thoroughly disagree about war, sexuality, ecological care, immigration and other issues that we wind up on opposing sides of the political spectrum. This is cause for great concern, because partisan politics ends up defining what is Christian; it shapes the way we think and speak about public issues.
It is possible, though, for Christians to take a stand on specific social and political matters without binding the church to partisan politics. We have biblical and theological resources to help us reframe issues and offer something new—a third way.
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“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,--The Death of the Hired Man, 121-122, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon
They have to take you in.”
The Reformation isn’t over. But Protestantism is, or should be.
When I studied at Cambridge, I discovered that English Evangelicals define themselves over against the Church of England. Whatever the C of E is, they ain’t. What I’m calling “Protestantism” does the same with Roman Catholicism. Protestantism is a negative theology; a Protestant is a not-Catholic. Whatever Catholics say or do, the Protestant does and says as close to the opposite as he can.
Mainline churches are nearly bereft of “Protestants.” If you want to spot one these days, your best bet is to visit the local Baptist or Bible church, though you can find plenty of Protestants among conservative Presbyterians too.
Protestantism ought to give way to Reformational catholicism....
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Q.: You said recently that most of our disagreements are about power and prestige rather than dogma or doctrine. What exactly do you mean?
Archbishop Welby: …We exist in different church communities, different ecclesial communities around the world and the longer that goes on, the more our different communities embed their own institutions and put down roots. Some of them have been putting down roots for centuries and that makes it harder and harder for us to say, well, actually, perhaps we need to reimagine what it means to look like the church and to surrender some of the things that give us our sense of identity in the cause of Christ. There are very fundamental and extremely important doctrinal and dogmatic differences that we have between us and they have to be worked on, as they are with Rome and the Anglicans with ARCIC, and we take those extremely seriously. It’s absolutely essential that those are worked on. But we need to make sure we’re working on them in the context of churches and ecclesial communities that say no sacrifice is too great to be obedient to the call of Christ that we may be one.
Q.: … Neither you nor Pope Francis seem remotely interested in power and prestige. Does this mean therefore that we can expect some kind of surprising healing or reconciliation in the near future?
Archbishop Welby: God has given you, and given us all, a great Pope. And he’s a great Pope of surprises… and I think people are inspired and uplifted by what they see in Pope Francis, as I am. I think he’s a wonderful person. Surprises? Yes, I think there’ll be one or two surprises. We’re hoping to produce a few surprises.
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There is also a sacramental, and even an institutional dimension to the church’s unity. Paul specifically connects the trinitarian unity of the church to the sacrament of baptism: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). Paul also writes: “he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”(Eph. 4:12). In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, he speaks of the distinctive role that has been given to the apostles and their successors: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Jesus also prays, “I do not ask for these only, bu also for those who will believe in me through their word” (v. 20). If all that talk about truth and love speaks to the Evangelical dimension of the church, then truth and love are embodied concretely in the church in its catholic dimensions. There is no church without sacraments and gathered worship. There is no church without an ordered ministry that continues the task of the apostles.
And, finally, the unity of the church has a missional purpose. The church is distinct from the world, and yet has a mission to the world. In the concluding words of Jesus’ prayer, he states the purpose of the church’s unity. On the one hand, the church is distinct from those who are not the church. Jesus says: “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am of the world” (John 17:14). At the same time, Jesus also prays that the church may be one for the sake of the world: “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (v. 23). The church’s call is to let the world know of the love with which the Father and the Son love each other, the love that dwells in the church because the church is one with Christ, and the church is the body of Christ, the body whose head is Christ, the body that grows so that “it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16). And the world will not know of this love if the church is not one, and if the members of the church do not love one another.
That is a very brief outline of the theology of the church that we find in the readings in Ephesians and John’s gospel. This outline has a lot in common with the different understandings of the church that I mentioned earlier. A church whose unity is grounded in the truth and love of the Trinity will be a church where the word is rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered.
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This brings me to the... more profound... reason for my support of Judge Ortbal’s reasoning: at the root of TEC’s fracture lies our General Convention’s failure to engage our church’s own identity, an identity rooted in the deeper character of unitive mission that ought to inform our life. In brief, the Church’s unity is given in her “apostolicity”, her apostolic mission. When the latter is subverted, unity disintegrates, and this is what we have seen happen in TEC. The result is not a “good” – I continue to believe that the disassociation of dioceses like Quincy, Fort Worth, South Carolina, and San Joaquin constitutes a failure of the Christian life. But the reversion to diocesan “independence” represents the almost natural reassertion of the will to apostolicity that one would expect in a situation of profound ecclesial dysfunction. And that reversion has something to teach us.
The polity question has to do with General Convention in this case. Dioceses, at least in theory, joined the Convention because such joining represented the furtherance of the apostolic ministry of the Church. They have disassociated themselves when that ministry was being impeded by General Convention. Part of the demanded reconsideration of our common life has to do with figuring out why this has been the case, and on what basis.
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It appears that the default position of the communion in the past decade was to assert that what we hold in common is an adequate basis for unity in the communion. What we hold in common tended to get reduced to our “historic bonds of affection”. Everything else was contested.
Such an attitude to unity ignored the centrality of the identity discussion of the communion. When it did deal with the identity issue it drove a wedge between the local and universal and between diversity and unity. It privileged the local and diversity over the universal and unity.
A global/universal communion of churches has two key features: identity and unity. Identity is integrally connected to unity. It is the undermining of the integrity of the identity of the Anglican Communion that produced fragmentation and brokenness we see today in the Communion. The four instruments of unity that were expected to deal with the breakdown of unity in the communion, have failed in the opinion of both Anglican leaders and commentators.
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"We are a very media-conscious generation. We know the power of the mass media on the public mind. Consequently, we want to use the media in evangelism. By print or tape, by audio or videocassette, by radio and television we would like to saturate the world with the good news. And rightly so. We should harness to the service of the gospel every modern medium of communication which is available to us.--John R. W. Stott, The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bible Speaks Today)[Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1991], pp.37-38, and quoted by yours truly in this morning's sermon
Nevertheless, there is another way, which is still more effective. It requires not complicated electronic gadgetry; it is very simple. It is neither organized nor computerized; it is spontaneous. And it is not expensive; it costs precisely nothing. We might call it 'holy gossip.' It is the excited transmission from mouth to mouth of the impact which the gospel news is making on people. 'Have you heard what has happened to so and so? Did you know that such and such a person has come to believe in God and has been completely transformed? Something extraordinary is happening in Thessalonica: a new society is coming into being, with new values and standards, characterized by faith, love and hope.'"
The Church as people who are Gossippers of the Gospel
[Evangelism] is telling the good news about Jesus, and doing it with honesty, urgency, and joy, using the Bible, living a life that backs it up, and praying, and doing it all for the glory of God.
Evangelism is not simply a matter if bringing individuals to personal faith, though of course that remains central to the whole enterprise. It is a matter of confronting the world with the good, but deeply disturbing, news of a different way of living…the way of love.
To evangelize is so to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.
How do the definitions of evangelism above speak to you right now where you live and move and have your being? Think and pray over them.
Think of the word witness and the word eyewitness. What are the qualities of an effective witness to you? In a lawcourt? In an accident?
In the service of Baptism, the baptismal covenant includes the following Q and A:
Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? People: I will, with God’s help.
Against the standard above how would you evaluate yourself as a witness? In word? In deed?
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). What is the role of prayer it witnessing? What is the role of prayer in your witnessing?
If you could name one person in your life for whom you had a particular burden for them to come to know Jesus as Savior and follow him as Lord who would that be? How have you been praying for that person? Is there a way your prayers could be changed going forward? If so,how?
Suppose you had to study Jesus as a witness to God’s kingdom in the gospels? What specific things does he have to teach us about how to witness?
What is the role of listening in witnessing? Of question asking? What are the ways this week God is calling you to listen and ask kingdom oriented questions?
Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ. How does this saying speak to you about witnessing? Are there ways for you to pay about your friends God is calling you to? Is there anyone in your life you may be missing who needs a friend?
--From this morning's Bulletin insert in our series on the Church, cited by yours truly in the sermon
The Roman Catholic Co-Chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) has expressed his personal view that, seeing how in 1993 certain relaxations were made in the Vatican's rules on eucharistic sharing, further relaxation is possible.
Speaking last week to the Gazette editor following a joint session of the National Advisers' Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference and representatives of the Church of Ireland's Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, the Most Revd Bernard Longley - Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and ARCIC III Co-Chair -referred to the changes in "specified circumstances" set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory.
He commented, "Given that that represents a change, and a very significant shift away from the impossibility to the limited possibility, then I could imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing, a deeper communion between our Churches which perhaps would lead to reconsideration of some of the circumstances."
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Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, bishop of the diocese of Kaduna in Nigeria, said he believes there are extreme conservatives and liberals within the Communion, but a majority of about 70 per cent of Anglicans are in the middle and want the Communion to hold together.
Idowu-Fearon, in speaking about the Communion’s instruments of unity—the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council—offered suggestions for making them more effective, including creating a commission to decide whether the Lambeth Conference should be designed for talk or decision-making; giving the Archbishop of Canterbury direct oversight of the Anglican Consultative Council; and the idea that each primate could come to the Primates’ Meeting, accompanied and advised by both a liberal and a conservative on controversial issues.
“I think, as Anglicans, it is about time we stopped running away from the fact that we are two groups—the liberal and the conservatives,” Idowu-Fearon said. The primates might not agree, but there is an opportunity for building understanding, he said, adding that recommendations from the Primates’ Meeting could then be taken to the Anglican Consultative Council, like a synod. “If this Communion has a mission, which is to unite the church, we must learn to accommodate one another,” he said. “The conservatives have been very arrogant, the liberals have been very despotic, and I believe we both need to ask the world for forgiveness…”
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World Communion Sunday is one of the best ideas Presbyterians ever had. The idea originated in the 1930s, a time of economic turmoil and fear and the rise of militaristic fascism abroad. Hugh Thomson Kerr, a beloved pastor in the Presbyterian Church, persuaded the denomination to designate one Sunday when American Christians would join brothers and sisters around the world at the Lord’s Table.
The idea caught on. Other denominations followed suit and the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) endorsed World Communion Sunday in 1940. But though the day is still noted in some denominational calendars and program materials, it doesn’t seem to be considered as important as it once was.
Of course, every Sunday is in a sense World Communion Sunday insofar as many churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. But we do not welcome one another at the Lord’s Table....
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Our final talk inspired us to a revival of the missionary spirit of the Toronto Congress.
In this spirit, we lay before you the following:
Communion is a missionary movement: as Stephen Bayne said at the time, our common goal is to plant the Gospel “in every place of the world”.Read it all.
Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence (MRI) remains a compelling calling for today.
We need renewal of the structures of the Communion so as to reflect the tremendous growth of the Church in last 50 years in Global South. As the Congress noted regarding the fact of mission: “the form of the Church must reflect this”.
We must reclaim and strengthen Anglicanism’s conciliar character in these structures and in our decision-making, as MRI assumed.
We are open to a fresh articulation of an Anglican Covenant and commend the role it can have in the renewal of our Communion, and we believe that we ourselves can have a constructive role to play in leading in this.
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It is sobering to think that a movement such as Focolare — obedient to traditionalist leadership, uninterested in chic politics, and utterly devoid of narcissism or any desire to set Christ against his Church — has not emerged organically in the Episcopal Church for quite some time. Cursillo and the charismatic movement, both mentioned by Leahy, have taken hold — but they seem the exceptions that prove the rule. Both movements are heavily experiential, subjective, and, particularly when removed from the context of Roman Catholicism, wide open to any sort of leading or teaching, however flawed. Neither is organized sufficiently that it may be held accountable for how its adherents expound the faith once given (or fail to) and hence, not surprisingly, have been limited in what they have to offer the wider Church.
Renewal movements have been a constant in the life of the Christian Church. The vast majority of them have been monastic in one form or another. On the whole, the movements discussed by Leahy, and Focolare as presented by Masters and Uelmen, share much in common with these traditional forms of the Holy Spirit’s revivifying of his Church. They accept obedience to godly authority; share a common life in joy and self-sacrifice, open to creation while shunning the counterfeits of the world, the flesh and the devil; and, to one extent or another, maintain chastity as an essential ingredient. Anglicans who wish to recapture the spirit of Christian renewal should look to all three of these characteristics, helpfully presented in these encouraging books.
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Primates and bishops from the Global South attending a gathering here said current proposals for a new Anglican Communion covenant don’t go far enough to heal the conflict in the communion over homosexuality.
The Wednesday (Sept. 18) gathering to mark the 50th anniversary of the Toronto Anglican Congress, suggested the worldwide Anglican Communion faces troubled waters. Anglicans from the Global South prepare to meet for their second Global Anglican Future Conference next month and the Toronto meeting showed no signs of reconciliation.
Archbishop Ian Ernest, primate of the province of the Indian Ocean, said decisions by the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada on issues involving homosexuality have torn the fabric of communion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Global South Churches & Primates * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The second half of the afternoon was owned by the House of Bishops Ecclesiology Committee. Most of the bishops were not aware there was even such a thing as an HOB Ecclesiology Committee, and my impression was that most had not read the "primer" on ecclesiology that the committee had prepared and which was shared with bishops barely a week ago. This document sets forth an understanding of Episcopal Church polity that runs counter to that articulated by the Bishops' Statement on Polity, a 2009 document to which I and my Communion Partner colleagues are committed. After some opening remarks by committee chair Pierre Whalon, TEC in Europe, we were turned loose for table discussions. When we reconvened and feedback was solicited, there was a consistent theme of discomfort with the notion--whether set forth historically or theologically--that General Convention has metropolitical authority, that we have eschewed having an archbishop, but that General Convention is, in fact, our archbishop. There were several other technical and historical errors that were pointed out as well. So my sense is that this document has effectively been re-referred to the committee that produced it, and that we will probably hear from them again down the road sometime.Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
A report was provided to HOB from the Ecclesiology Committee. Following table discussion, a panel answered questions from HOB – Bishop John Buchanan of Chicago; Bishop Bill Franklin of Western New York; Bishop Bill Gregg of North Carolina; Bishop Pierre Whalon of Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe; and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies. The House discussed the importance of the founding of the church and its past as primer for the conversation about the future of the church.
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In May of 2012, I was blessed to addend a FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) meeting in London, where the international flavor of Anglicanism - which had always been theoretical to me - became real. How powerful it was for me to have dinner with the Archbishop of Chile, the Bishop of Iran, and a Bishop from Uganda. We shared a meal together, prayed together, and spoke of our faith in Christ. As we did, it became clear that while we came from very different cultures and backgrounds, we shared the same Christian Culture - based on a common understanding of Christ, the Church, and our Mission in the world.
We have the evangelical spirit of the English Reformers to thank for our international flavor and expression - for a truly catholic (universal) church. In short, where the English Navy and economic traders went, the Church of England went also. This missionary zeal took extra focus with the formation of the Church Mission Society in the eighteenth century, under the leadership of many evangelicals, not least of whom was William Wilberforce. In a short time, the CMS began to focus on Africa and India. They then focused on the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. Today, millions of men and women have come to Christ through the efforts of those original missionaries and their successors.
However, the focus was not only calling individuals to conversion, but also engaging the culture, with the intention of transforming all of society.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Global South Churches & Primates FCA Meeting in London April 2012 * Culture-Watch Globalization * Theology Ecclesiology
The Diocese of the Southeast of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America, unanimously approved a resolution of support for the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence as they face legal challenges and other harassment from The Episcopal Church following their disassociation last year from The Episcopal Church.
The resolution, introduced by the Rev. Charles A. Collins, Jr., Vicar of the Church of the Atonement in Mount Pleasant who also serves as the Ecumenical Representative for the Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Sr., noted that the Diocese of South Carolina had sought to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints despite changes to the teaching of Scripture and the Church as well as the support that they have received from Anglicans in the Global South, including the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates Council. “We're pleased to support Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina as they stand on the foundation of Scripture,” said Bishop Gadsden, who had met with other Anglican bishops at Camp St. Christopher earlier in the week to discuss ways that they could engage in ministry together.
Tracing its roots back to 1875, the Diocese of the Southeast comprises more than 30 parishes and missions in South Carolina and Georgia and also covers the state of Florida. Following the approval of the resolution, the text of which follows, prayers were offered for the Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence.
The Text of the resolution is as follows:
A Resolution of Support
Whereas, the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and the Diocese of the Southeast of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America share a common heritage as Christians, as Anglicans, and as residents of this land in which God's Providence has placed us; and,
Whereas, the Diocese of South Carolina has sought to “...earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 [ESV]) despite severe opposition and interference from The Episcopal Church as that latter body has revised Catholic teaching; and,
Whereas, on 17 October 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops of The Episcopal Church certified to the Presiding Bishop of that body that the Rt. Rev'd Mark Joseph Lawrence, D.D., had abandoned The Episcopal Church despite his earnest efforts to preserve both his Diocese's relationship to that body and its faithfulness to Scripture and Catholic teaching; and,
Whereas, those actions triggered two pre-existing resolutions disaffiliating the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church and called for a special convention of that Diocese; and,
Whereas, that special convention was held at St. Philip's Church in Charleston on 17 November 2012 and at that convention the overwhelming majority of the Diocese of South Carolina affirmed their support for this disaffiliation and Bishop Lawrence; and,
Whereas, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates Council has affirmed its support of the Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence; and,
Whereas, The Episcopal Church has continued to seek legal action against the Diocese of South Carolina;
Now Therefore, we, the Forty-first Synod of the Diocese of the Southeast meeting at St. John's Church in Charleston do hereby give thanks to Almighty God for the faithful witness and testimony of the Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence, affirm our support of our bothers and sisters in Christ, and do now lift them up before Almighty God in prayer and heartfelt affection.
“If you aren’t seeing God at work in your life, you aren’t far enough out on the limb yet..." [Mark Lawrence said].
It’s a theme Lawrence has stuck by and modeled since, the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis says.
“As our bishop, he has consistently modeled a kind of faith that is prepared, when called to do so, to step out of the boat and trust in God’s loving provision,” Lewis says. “Consequently we continue, I believe, to see God at work among us in amazing ways.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
Forward in Faith regrets the decision of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales to authorize the ordination of women as bishops without first agreeing arrangements for those who, for theological reasons, will not be able to receive episcopal ministry from them.
We cannot see how a female bishop could be what a diocesan bishop should be – a Father in God and a focus of unity for all within his diocese. This vote therefore makes the question of the provision of episcopal ministry for those who continue to uphold catholic faith and order in the Church in Wales even more pressing.
Experience in Wales and elsewhere does not give us confidence that the promised ‘code of practice’ could offer the level of assurance that would encourage growth and flourishing – so sorely needed in Wales – or the degree of certainty that would remove the possibility of damaging and distracting disputes.
Our brothers and sisters in Credo Cymru will seek to enter into dialogue with the Welsh bishops. We can only hope that their representations will be met with the generosity of spirit that ought to be the hallmark of Christian episcopacy. Meanwhile, we continue to pray for and with our Welsh sisters and brothers, encouraging them to follow St David in being joyful and keeping the faith.
X JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, Chairman
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Women * International News & Commentary England / UK --Wales * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Sacramental Theology Theology: Scripture
It happens at St. Paul's, Summerville, S.C., from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
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It’s interesting that in the discussion of doctrinal incoherency, no one mentioned the Thirty-Nine Articles, perhaps because they’ve proved so inadequate a doctrinal foundation. Or perhaps the problem is that, as a 16th-century confessional statement, they no longer speak to the issues that are really shaking the Anglican Communion to its core today. (Although Reformed and Lutheran Christians would argue that their confessions are more than adequate in the 21st century, despite new and improved denominations popping up on a regular basis, not to mention disputes over how to interpret the confessions themselves: third use of the law, anyone? How about 2K theology?)
It seems to me that there are a couple of ways out of this mess, which undoubtedly have been tried and failed. But this is Anglicanism, so why let that stop us:
1. I don’t know what is demanded precisely of a prospective clergyman/woman in the CofE in regard to the Three Ecumenical Creeds. I doubt they are required to affirm them on all points in their literal sense, such that there is no hedging on the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Ascension, and coming Judgment. “Born of the Virgin Mary”–yes or no? “On the Third Day, He rose again from the dead, He ascended into Heaven”–yes or no?
Here’s one way forward: If the response begins with ”It all depends on what you mean by—” deny them ordination. I certainly would expect this to be the case in “continuing” Anglican churches.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran * Theology Ecclesiology
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
Pope John Paul II extended to Anglicans, including married priests, the opportunity to become Catholic in 1980. During the next 30 years, 100 or so Anglican priests entered the Catholic Church and were incorporated into local dioceses.
But some in the worldwide Anglican Communion — particularly the Episcopal Church, the religious body’s US province — wanted to make it easier for whole congregations to come in, and to be part of a group of like-minded churches.
At their request, Pope Benedict XVI established special “ordinariates” — basically superdioceses — especially for Anglican priests and congregations. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which spans the United States and Canada, was created last year. It includes more than 30 congregations, including [ Jurgen] Liias’s St. Gregory the Great, which held its first Mass in April.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
Young people are disillusioned, disenchanted, and in some cases, downright disgusted with organized religion....[yet] in the middle of this storyline, which is quite frankly growing staler by the headline, comes Rev. Lillian Daniel and her hit book When Spiritual But Not Religious is Not Enough. It’s incredibly well-written, and though she is a liberal Protestant minister, I think her message resonates with where many conservative evangelicals are.
Daniel shares how she has seen the good and bad sides of the local church–a BB gun-toting grandma, a rock-and-roller sexton, a worship service attended by animals and a group of theologians at Sing-Sing prison. Despite their flaws, she argues that local Christian communities play an important role in the life of faith, even though her spiritual journey extends well beyond the pews. Here we discuss why so many people want to follow Jesus without attending church and why she thinks this approach isn’t enough.
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Saints, whether formally recognized by Catholicism or informally regarded as such by other denominations, are bracing reminders that the transformation of spirit promised by religion—so elusive for most of us—is possible in this life. Christians of any kind can appreciate the remarkable lives of the two men the Catholic Church will canonize later this year.
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, born a peasant in Lombard, became in 1958 the wise and generous "Good Pope" John XXIII, opening up the Catholic Church to the modern world. Karol Wojtyla, a young playwright living under the harsh rule of communist Poland, eventually played a pivotal part as Pope John Paul II in the collapse of that degrading system.
Saints like these suggest that there is more to life, and to faith, than most of us dare to know. A century-old aphorism attributed to the French essayist Charles Péguy perhaps says it best: "Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately: not to have become a saint."
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Catholic theologians speak of a “hierarchy of truths,” a phrase found in Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio, 11). This concept does not mean that some truths are truer than others, or that the Catholic faithful are free to pick and choose among the teachings of their church as they please. It means, rather, that in the economy of divine revelation, more theological weight, as it were, is given to those teachings that relate directly to the foundational truths of the Christian faith. This point is similar to the distinction Thomas Aquinas makes between some articles of faith which are as such secundum se and others in ordine ad alia (ST 2-2, q.1, a.6). (See the excellent study by the Capuchin scholar William Henn, “The Hierarchy of Truths Twenty Years Later,” Theological Studies 48, .)
In this vein, I would like to propose a “hierarchy of ecclesial realities.” What do I mean by this? While I recognize myself as a Protestant, an Evangelical, and a Baptist, none of those labels defines my spiritual and ecclesial identity at the most basic level. Being an evangelical Protestant, a Baptist, indeed a Southern Baptist, are all important markers of my place within the community of faith, but there is a more primary confession I must make: I am a trinitarian Christian who by the grace of God belongs to the whole company of the redeemed through the ages, those who are “very members incorporate in the mystical body of Christ” (Book of Common Prayer).
Far from being a new construal, this way of putting things goes to the very heart of what it means to be a genuine Protestant, a true Evangelical, and an authentic Baptist.
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My crystal ball is telling me that Holy Women, Holy Men and the furor around it is emblematic of the liturgical issues that we will be dealing with in the next few decades. We are at the point where we must come to terms with the fact that we have inherited a prayer book with a greater catholic appearance but without catholic substance behind it. To put a finer point on it, we have a catholic-looking calendar of “saints” yet no shared theology of sainthood or sanctity. While a general consensus reigned that the appearance was sufficient, the lack of a coherent shared theology was not an issue. When we press upon it too hard—as occurred and is occurring in the transition from Lesser Feasts & Fasts into Holy Women, Holy Men into whatever will come next—we reap the fruits of a sort of potemkin ecumenism that collapses without common shared theology behind it.
Is there a catholic theology of sanctity in the Episcopal Church? Yes, in some places. Is there an inherently Episcopal theology of sanctity that proceeds naturally from the ’79 BCP that is in line with a classic Christian understanding? Without question! But is it known? No. Is there any common Episcopal understanding of sanctity? The arguments around the church especially as embodied in the discussions within the SCLM lead me to answer, no—I don’t think so.
The struggle of this current generation will be to wrestle with a liturgy that portrays a catholic appearance but lack a catholic substance behind it. It’s not that the substance can’t be there—it’s that it’s not.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology
Catholicity is that name we give to the priority of the local for the determination of faithfulness that can only be sustained by engagement with other local expressions of the faith, as well as engagement with the whole. As Rowan Williams reminded us at the 2008 Lambeth Conference,
"The entire Church is present in every local church assembled around the Lord's Table. Yet the local church alone is never the entire Church. We are called to see this not as a circle to be squared but as an invitation to be more and more lovingly engaged with one another.""Such engagement, moreover, is crucial if the church is to be an alternative to the forces that threaten to destroy locality in the name of peace. We are in danger of confusing the universality of the cross with the allegedly inevitable process of globalization. We are in the odd situation of needing one another in our diverse localities in order not to be subject to the power of false universals. Kaye calls attention to Rowan Williams's claim in the final address at the 2008 Lambeth Conference as an expression of this understanding of catholicity:
"The global horizon of the Church matters because churches without this are always in danger of slowly surrendering to the culture around them and losing sight of their calling to challenge that culture.""Read it all.
Standing at the entrance to St. Paul's Episcopal Church on 17th Street, the Rt. Rev. Chet Talton raised up the blunt end of a 6-foot-tall staff and pounded it against the door.
Again he pounded with his crosier, and again, each time the knock resounding through the 160-strong gathering. From inside, the church warden greeted him, and after a brief exchange, Talton entered.
So began a new era at St. Paul's, itself the subject of a prolonged battle that, though settled at this congregation, continues to ripple through courtrooms across the country.
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Dissatisfaction is the one word that best expresses the state of mind in which Christendom finds itself today. There is a wide-spread misgiving that we are on the eve of momentous changes. Unrest is everywhere. We hear about Roman Councils, and Anglican Conferences, and Evangelical Alliances, about the question of the Temporal Power, the dissolution of Church and State, and many other such like things. They all have one meaning. The party of the Papacy and the party of the Reformation, the party of orthodoxy and the party of liberalism, are all alike agitated by the consciousness that a spirit of change is in the air.
No wonder that many imagine themselves listening to the rumbling of the chariot- wheels of the Son of Man. He Himself predicted that " perplexity" should be one of the signs of His coining, and it is certain that the threads of the social order have seldom been more seriously entangled than they now are.
A calmer and perhaps truer inference is that we are about entering upon a new reach of Church history, and that the dissatisfaction and perplexity are only transient. There is always a tumult of waves at the meeting of the waters; but when the streams have mingled, the flow is smooth and still again. The plash and gurgle that we hear may mean something like this.
At all events the time is opportune for a discussion of the Church-Idea ; for it is with this, hidden under a hundred disguises, that the world's thoughts are busy. Men have become possessed with an unwonted longing for unity, and yet they are aware that they do not grapple successfully with the practical problem. Somehow they are grown persuaded that union is God's work, and separation devil's work ; but the persuasion only breeds the greater discontent. That is what lies at the root of our unquietness. There is a felt want and a felt inability to meet the
want; and where these two things coexist there must be heat of friction.
Catholicity is what we are reaching after....
--William Reed Huntington The Church Idea (1870)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books * Theology Ecclesiology
See what you make of it all.
The ecumenical movement of the past 100 years has been wildly successful in eliminating old tensions and rivalries, but such pervasive success been can foster complacency, even in a time when a skeptical world needs to see more signs of God-given unity in action.
That combination of joy and concern is a central motivator for the Rev. Callan Slipper, a Church of England priest and author of Five Steps to Living Christian Unity, due in September from New City Press.
“We are currently the victims of our past success,” Slipper tells TLC. “The new vision I would advocate is one where we see one another as truly belonging to one another.”
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The inference to be drawn from [Bill ] Lawton's argument is that an emphasis on discontinuous and futurist eschatology has had an impact on the way in which Anglicans from Sydney have responded to the rising tide of secularism since the 1960s. What I would like to show is that, while Sydney's Anglicans have not always responded well to the challenges of the new secularism, they were not in fact given to the kind of world-abandonment supposedly characteristic of them in the late nineteenth century.
The period of secularization following the 1960s does indeed have some strong echoes of the late nineteenth century. In between these two eras was the high-water mark of church influence in Australian life, and in Sydney especially. In the midst of the Great Depression, Sydney Anglicans like the extraordinary R.B.S. Hammond (1870-1946) at St Barnabas' Broadway distinguished themselves in remarkable service of the poor. The 1950s in particular was a time in which Australian society seemed more congenial to the influence of the church than it had been previously.
This was demonstrated by the dramatic impact of the Billy Graham crusade of 1959 - an event which had all the appearance of the dawn of a new glorious age of Christian social influence through the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the thousands of people who went forward in Sydney and Melbourne. More than 130,000 people made a commitment to Christ, a figure which represents nearly 2% of the Australian population at the time.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In spite of assurances from Bishops and senior church officers that a change to the marriage canon would not be pursued at the 2013 General Synod, two members from the Diocese of Nova Scotia will do exactly that.
The motion reads:
Be it resolved that this General Synod direct the Council of General Synod to prepare and present a motion at General Synod 2016 to change Canon XXI on Marriage to allow the marriage of same sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples . . . (Resolution #C003)
It offers this defense:
It has been 6 years since General synod last debated this issue. Since then, some dioceses have proceeded in a manner they deemed necessary to meet the local pastoral and other needs with respect to the blessing of same sex civil marriages. It has been over 10 years since such civil marriages were legal in Canada. The general public has become much more accepting of same sex unions since we last discussed it. This is also true of the church, though not, of course, universally so....
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Jesse Zink’s “Why Provinces Matter” and the responses from William G. Witt and Colin Podmore [TLC, May 26] illustrate the range of opinions on what South Carolina’s ultimate ecclesial structure should be, from standalone province to joining the Anglican Church in North America. One thing in common to all of the initial essays, however, was the recognition that any decision on ultimate structure might still be some time away.
This recognition has also been the starting point of the Anglican Communion Institute in our work on this issue in the last several months. We believe that South Carolina’s current status does not necessarily present a problem in need of immediate resolution, but rather inheres in the nature of this dispute. Taking our cue both from Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Instruments of Communion, we have proposed that the guiding principle of the next season for South Carolina is “provisionality.” During this period ultimate decisions are deferred precisely because they are premature. Bishop Lawrence has stressed this on many occasions. The rupture with the Episcopal Church is too fresh with many unresolved issues; the ensuing litigation is only beginning, not nearing an end. This is not the time to make such a momentous decision as that regarding the ultimate future of this diocese, which predates the formation of the Episcopal Church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Parishes TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ecclesiology
Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult for most Anglicans to recognize this quality in the Episcopal Church’s leadership, and Bishop Jefferts Schori’s somewhat freewheeling sermon serves to highlight why. Some years ago, the Yale theologian David Kelsey pointed out that it’s axiomatic to say that the Scriptures are authoritative for the Church, since that’s the very definition of what it means to say that a text is canonical Scripture. So long as many conservative Anglicans cannot see how the Episcopal Church is answerable to the authority of the Scriptures, it will remain difficult for them to see the Episcopal Church as a Church. This has a very great deal to do with the schisms of the past decade.
My title promised two sermons from the presiding bishop, and I’ve only mentioned one. The second was preached in January, this time in Charleston, South Carolina. The occasion was the secession of the conservative diocese from the Episcopal Church, and her audience was comprised of those who had decided to stay and form a continuing Episcopal diocese. The story of why the South Carolinians left is a long and sad one—the diocese was one of the Church’s founders, older than the United States itself, and was one of the few growth spots in a generally shrinking Church—but suffice it to say that they felt pushed out, and did not leave until their bishop, Mark Lawrence, was inhibited in his ministry by a disciplinary board for reasons the diocese held were unfair. The national Episcopal Church is now pursuing the diocese in court, as they’ve done in many similar cases (by now, they’ve spent over $22 million in legal costs), seeking to recover property and assets.
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