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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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Filed under: * 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 Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
[...She asks] “Where and how do I want my establishment to inject itself into secular controversies?”
The essay is well worth reading in full, in part because it shows how L’Engle embodied a deeply articulate and vigorous faith, one that was characterized by liberality and generosity in the best senses. “It is impossible to listen to the Gospel week after week and turn my back on the social issues confronting me today,” she writes. “But what I hope for is guidance, not legislation.”
She goes on to discuss a host of difficult issues, including abortion, divorce, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, and slavery, and her conclusions about the official church’s role are not in every case ones that I agree with myself. She tends to have a more mystical view of how the “Gospel” will necessarily inform the individual believer’s conscience than do I. If she is a conservative, then she is certainly at least what might be called a “liberal conservative” in Peter Lawler’s parlance.
But she certainly is right to point to the necessary task of each individual believer to work for the good within their own spheres of influence regardless of whether the church holds an “official position” on any particular issue.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
This day in the church year—the Sunday in-between the Ascension and Pentecost—is given to us as a reminder of what it means to be a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus: our life as Spirit-filled disciples is a life of (1) clinging to the Spirit’s testimony about what Christ has accomplished, (2) a life of suffering in the world, and (3) a life of doing good to our neighbors.
First, we cling to the Spirit’s testimony. Today’s prayer anticipates Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit: “Leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit’s consolation is precisely in testifying about Jesus.
What are the specifics of the Holy Spirit’s comfort (or, consolation)? The devil and your own conscience will frighten you because of your sins; the world will hate your confession of the faith, your morals and your piety. That you must expect. But the Holy Spirit comforts us by pointing us to Christ. He won’t make your wallet fat, but He will enable you to say, “When I have lost everything—spouse, children, house, car, possessions, reputation, even my own life—yes, when all that is gone, still Jesus Christ for my sake was made man, died and rose again, and ascended into heaven. He is coming at the last day for me. If God’s Son suffered for me, He will certainly not be my enemy. Since He loves me and has given me such great promises, then I have everything” [Adapted from Luther].
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Pentecost Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
The international community stepped in, investigated, and found enough to warrant a further investigation by the International Criminal Court. In the meantime, the country tried to put things back together. By 2010, post-crisis reforms had come into being along with a new constitution that brought about a coalition government.
These were the first few steps toward reconciliation, but they were surface deep, nowhere near the restoration of the people. David Shibley with Global Advance says their organization was called in to help the church rebuild in 2010. God used them as a catalyst; sometimes it takes someone coming from the outside, speaking into a situation, to be the fresh eyes needed. “God graciously used our first Frontline Shepherds Conference there, five years ago, to bring healing and reconciliation. We saw a marvelous move of God’s Spirit as men who had not talked to each other suddenly were embracing each other, asking for forgiveness.”
Since that time, says Shibley, reconciliation efforts reawakened a sense of belonging to one nation. “The pastoral leaders of that area have been used of God to bring a real healing in that area, and now there is tremendous cooperation among most, if not all, of the evangelical churches of that area.”
Then came the al-Shabaab attack on the Nairobi University campus in Garissa in April. 147 Christian college students were killed. “Since that time, there has been a real galvanizing of the Church in Kenya: kind of a ‘snapping to attention’ that I saw,” explains Shibley.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Leaders from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America, led by Bishop Mark Lawrence and Archbishop Foley Beach, came together at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, South Carolina on April 28-29, 2015 for prayer, fellowship, and conversation.
We had frank exchanges that examined the possible compatibility of the ecclesiologies of the Anglican Church in North America and the Diocese of South Carolina.
There is a wide spectrum of polities in the provinces of the Anglican Communion and these differences affect the ways in which dioceses relate to their respective provinces. Provinces such as Nigeria are more hierarchical, while provinces such as South America are more conciliar. Our conversations began exploring the practical dimensions of how a diocese and province relate in the structure of the Anglican Church in North America.
Read it all.
While I would not go as far saying that it is characteristic of all folks in the Anglican Church in North America, the ACNA does have its share of people who do not want to hear anything that is in their way of thinking even remotely critical of their denomination. They do not want drawn to their attention the areas in which the denomination needs reform. They exhibit a high level of defensiveness. On more than one occasion I have been told in so many words that if I do not have anything nice to say about the ACNA, I should not say anything at all. This is unfortunate because there is a real need for meaningful reform in the ACNA particularly at the denominational level if the ACNA is to be anything more than the latest Anglo-Catholic Continuing Anglican Church in the United States and Canada.
Among the areas in which the Anglican Church in North America is in greatest need of reform is that its most influential leaders evidences no commitment to creating an environment in the ACNA in which all schools of conservative Anglican thought can flourish. The doctrinal statements that the ACNA has produced to date favor the doctrinal positions and related practices of one particular school of conservative Anglican thought over the others. The adherents of the school of thought in question “identify with Roman Catholic teaching and liturgical practices and holds a high view of the authority of clergy and tradition.”  In recent years a number of its adherents have also come to identify with Eastern Orthodox teaching and liturgical practices. While some of its adherents idealize the early High Middle Ages period as a golden age of Christianity, others display a greater affinity with the Counter Reformation and post-Tridentian Roman Catholicism.
The Anglican identity of this particular school of thought has been controverted since the nineteenth century. Adherents of the school argue that it alone represents genuine Anglicanism. Critics draw attention to the numerous ways in which it departs from Holy Scripture and the Anglican formularies, the touchstones of historic Anglican identity.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Gafcon’s General Secretary, the Most Rev Peter Jensen, the former Archbishop of Sydney, said the new churches would help “renew” Anglicanism in England from outside the established church.
“I think we will have churches in place which will be regarded by most of the Anglican Communion as Anglican but not be Church of England Churches,” he explained.
“At the present moment we are looking at a handful, depending on how it goes – that might be it but who can tell?
“Things have happened in the last decade which have been truly astonishing, we are looking at a totally new age from the point of view of the cultural milieu around us.
“Christians are having to work things out which worked out for millennia.
"This might be the beginning of something as big as Wesley.”
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Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
More to the point, the Paris attack struck close to home. The victims were journalists and journalists write the news. The terrorists hit a major Western city like the ones where the political leaders and opinion-makers live. The victims were aggressively secular. In marching for the victims, the famous and powerful were marching for themselves and their own.
Which does not apply to the victims in Nairobi and northern Nigeria. They were black Africans, not white Europeans; students, not journalists; living in the developing world, not Europe; and Christian, not modern and secular. No high official is going to fly to east Africa and march for them. The Kenyan and Nigerian victims are not their people.
They are ours. If someone could measure the amount of time American Christians spent reading about the three attacks, and the depth of of our emotional reaction, he would almost certainly find our time and emotional investment nearly as tilted to Paris as the secular Americans’. The more successful in the world, say in academia and publishing, the more this will be true. As a test, ask yourself what details of the Nigerian massacre you remember, compared with how much you remember of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I remember a lot about the Nigerian massacre, but only because I read about it while writing this. Western journalists, even anti-Christian ones, are “our” people, Africa’s Christians a little less so.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Globalization Media Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya Nigeria Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I believe the story. With my head, looking at the evidence and thinking logically as a person who was a research physicist for twenty-five years, I believe it. And after listening to the testimony of people – from beggars to kings -- through all the ages who had concluded that the story is true, I believe it. And at the innermost levels of my heart, where the deepest truths reside but are not easily put into words, I believe it is true.
And that is why I know that I will see my mother again someday. It’s not just wishful thinking, some little tale I’ve fooled myself with because I can’t face the cold hard facts of life. Yes, I will see Della Mae, and I am convinced that it will be a day of great victory and joy. St. Paul says that it will be like putting on a crown, and St. John says that it will be a time when every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. That’s what will happen someday to me. But what Jesus did affects me right here today also -- I know that this Jesus who overcame death and the grave has promised not to leave me here twisting in the wind. He is with me every day, through his Spirit, to guide me, comfort me, embolden me, and use me for his glory and to serve his people, right here, right now.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
November 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which established personal ordinariates for Anglican converts to Roman Catholicism “so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift…and as a treasure to be shared.” Anglicanorum Coetibus was not greeted with universal applause among former Anglicans already in communion with Rome, at least not among those of my acquaintance. These converts, who had left Anglicanism for what they had come to believe was the true Church, and who had been attending ordinary Novus Ordo parishes, sometimes for decades, wondered what substantial patrimony Anglicans could bring into the Church. To be sure, Anglicans have (or used to have) splendid liturgies, and their church music was incomparable, at least into the middle decades of the past century. But what do Anglicans have to give to the Church that is not of common inheritance from the pre-Reformation centuries or simply Protestant heresy?
A number of writers has tried to answer this question by taking an inventory of the strong and attractive characteristics of the Anglican heritage — for example, the Book of Common Prayer, the King James Bible, theologians like Richard Hooker and Jeremy Taylor, poets like John Donne and George Herbert, not to mention moderns like C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot. This method is useful, if only because it sets us thinking about what Anglicanism really is; but it does not arrive at the essence of Anglicanism.
The answer lies instead in the origins of Anglicanism at the beginning of modernity....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
In his address to the 224th Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Mark Lawrence outlined a plan for advancing the church's mission through starting new congregations, renewing an emphasis on evangelism, and cultivating a missional approach to ministry and life. It was a bold vision indicative of a diocese determined to move forward after several years of legal battles following its disaffiliation from The Episcopal Church (TEC). Using the acronym CAMEL, Bishop Lawrence mapped out the current landscape of the diocese under the five categories of Consolidation, Affiliation, Missionalization, Education, and Litigation.
Although some local parishes decided to remain with TEC after the diocese disaffiliated in 2012, the losses are being made up through the addition of new congregations. At last year's convention, Lawrence noted, Grace Church, Pawleys Island and Grace Church, North Myrtle Beach were welcomed into the diocese. This year, two more new congregations--Resurrection, North Charleston and St. James, Blackville--were welcomed as missions.
"Let us pray that this trend continues in the coming years," Lawrence said. "In fact, it is a worthy goal for this diocese that we either welcome two new missions each year or celebrate two new campuses established by existing congregations each year, or a combination of the two."
Punctuating that challenge, the bishop added, "May this become the defining ethos of the Diocese of South Carolina--advancement as a method of consolidation. We shall know who we are by the fact that we are continuously adding new congregations to our number."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Soteriology
A few weeks ago, Linda Woodhead suggested in the Church Times that discipleship was a ‘theologically peripheral concept’, and the following week Angela Tilby dismissed the ‘d-word’ as ‘sectarian vocabulary that…shows the influence of American-derived Evangelicalism on the Church’s current leadership.’ The short discussions in each place actually raise not one but three, inter-related, questions:
1. Is ‘discipleship’ Anglican?
2. Is ‘discipleship’ biblical?
3. Is the Church of England biblical?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
For years, I thought I was called to be an Anglican priest. My wife and I wanted to plant an Anglican church in Minneapolis. To that end, I attended a beautiful Anglican seminary couched in the forests of Wisconsin. There, surrounded by men and women much holier than myself, I was challenged to grow up in Christ. During the course of my studies and discernment, I came to believe that Christ intended his Church to be apostolic—and also that Rome had greatly exaggerated Peter’s role in the apostolic college. I had many opinions about the papacy, most of them clouded by exaggeration and fabrication, and considered myself to be more Catholic than the Catholics.
“Are you Episcopalian?” people asked.
“No, I am Anglican,” I said.
“But aren’t Episcopalians Anglican?” they asked.
And I would try my best to explain how the Anglican communion is full of national churches and independent provinces that are out of communion with one another. By my senior year, I was tongue-tied.
Schism—however sincerely felt, conventional, or culturally imperative—remains schism. Anglicanism has not essentially changed since the moment King Henry VIII had, in the most frightening sense of the phrase, an original idea. Time and habit—together with popular acceptance and the enduring appeal of fresh breaks (I was in the ACNA, a break-off from TEC)—do not transform the Church of England into a “branch” of the Catholic Church. Time’s passage does not a Catholic Church make. In fact, just the opposite happens: the longer Anglicans remain out of communion with Peter’s successor, the pope, the longer the principle of decay can take effect. As in the moment of the original break, the result of schism is something schismatic every single second.
We should not mistake the gradual numbing of our awareness of schism with its disappearance or release from our ongoing responsibility for it; much less should we excuse such visible disunity by appealing to an invisible “unity in Christ”—at least not while we’re praying “on earth as it is in heaven.” The Church is more than a surface-level illusion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
One might wish that the leadership of the Episcopal Church would come to grips with reality. The people of the Diocese of South Carolina voted by an overwhelming majority to leave the Episcopal Church. Any church bureaucracy that would try to force its will on a Diocese where the majority of people have said they no longer want to be affiliated is manifestly evil. They are just trying to suck the life out of the Diocese of South Carolina (and the other dioceses they are suing) by bleeding them dry through lawsuits. (That's just my opinion, of course. But this kind of continued pernicious evil from the Episcopal Church's leadership has been going on long enough that it just makes you wonder what it will take to finally drive a stake through the vampire's heart.)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa [CAPA] is on the verge of disintegration after leaders of the Gafcon coalition called upon its chairman, the Archbishop of Burundi, to repent or resign in the wake of an October communiqué he endorsed that backed the Episcopal Church of the USA.
The collapse of CAPA, sources within the Gafcon movement tell Anglican Ink, is merely a sign of the wider collapse of the Anglican Communion. On 22 Jan 2015, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya released a copy of a letter prepared at the December Gafcon primates meeting in Nairobi for Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi. He stated that as “no reply has been received, the letter is now being made public in order to avoid misunderstanding.”
The public rebuke of Archbishop Ntahoturi by the Gafcon primates is unprecedented in African church history, but was not unexpected. In his Advent letter to Gafcon, Archbishop Wabukala called Africa’s bishops to order. Archbisho Ntahoturi’s failure to heed the warnings coming out of Nairobi prompted the public release of his rebuke.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
As a statement about the making of church doctrine, that comment might not sound too startling, and it is quite obvious to Catholic and Orthodox believers. But it does point to a major paradox in the thinking of that numerous and influential section of the world’s Christians who are evangelicals. Surprised, and even shocked, as they might be to hear it, they are in fact far more Catholic than they might ever have thought.
Evangelicals pride themselves on their reliance on Scripture alone, the core Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. If you look at evangelical debates, the question will soon arise: how do you ground this in scripture? Give me chapter and verse!
But here’s the problem. Evangelicals believe absolutely in core doctrines of faith that cannot be derived simply from scripture, but rather grow out of church tradition.
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Many of you who read my editorials are pastors of a local church as I am. Imagine this scenario. One hundred of your most committed and loyal members write you a letter. You know they love your church. Most of them have been members for decades. They serve faithfully in your congregation’s ministries and they give generously. Their letter states they are deeply concerned about a matter they believe is endangering the health of the church they love and they hope you will act to address it.
How would you respond? Would you ask to meet with them and hear them out? I know I would. Maybe you would decide to sit down with a few of their leaders and ask them to speak for the group. Short of that, would you send a letter of your own, thanking those who wrote for sharing their concerns? If not inclined to go that far, would you at least in some way acknowledge that you had received their letter? I mean, you would respond, right? Even if you did not agree with their concerns, as a leader you would feel it important to respond to your members who took the time to write, wouldn’t you? And if not as a leader, then wouldn’t simple politeness require you to make some kind of reply to your brothers and sisters in Christ?
What if you did nothing? What would you expect those 100 members to do? Would you expect them to continue to look to you for leadership? Listen to your sermons, telling them how we Christians should treat each other? Pay your salary?
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In addition to personal hurt, the baggage accumulated here, again, might result in the “baby” of holiness getting thrown out with the “bathwater” of legalism. If the ex-fundamentalist does not become a New Atheist — the inverted modernist equivalent of the rationalizing fundamentalist — he might drift in the Anglican direction. Here he will decide whether to let John Spong usher him through the dusty halls of a bygone Protestant liberalism back towards Dawkins et. al. or, via the “Canterbury Trail,” he will head towards the more romantic tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. The temptation then is to construct an Anglican identity that is more concerned with “not being fundamentalist” than with being Christian. So ex-fundamentalists are largely reacting against pride and legalism, while ex-evangelicals are reacting against the spiritual emptiness of faddish evangelicalism. But, of course, there are degrees of mixture between the two.
In closing, I want to say that although this new generation of Canterbury Trail Anglicans has a lot to offer the Anglican and Episcopal churches which we now inhabit — especially in our greater desire for unity than many a Boomer who busies himself with ecclesial marketing, lawsuits, or even doctrinal and moral “purity” — we also carry a lot of baggage. Not having “stayed put” in those places where we originally received the faith, we struggle here too in this Anglican place to practice what we have come to preach. Here we counsel the local “cradle” Anglican evangelical not to throw overboard the riches of the tradition in order to fill the pews. But we also need to be reminded that without mission, evangelism, and, yes, conversion, the tradition simply becomes liturgical histrionics, much to the annoyance of the local Anglican evangelical. Finally, the new Canterbury Trail Anglicans need to be more than “not fundamentalists” or “not-Southern-Baptists.” Not only would such an attitude contradict the ecumenical spirit, not only does this tempt us to throw out the legitimate orthodoxies held by those we react against, but, contrary to the spirit of humility, it also tempts us to “via media” pride, as if we somehow have got it all together. Truth, humility, and unity are a package.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Identity * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Canada England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Christology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education Soteriology
Dr. Seitz, one of the pledge’s authors, said that as an academic he does not “do the kind of weddings on a regular basis as someone whose full-time job” is in the clergy. And many of those who have signed his pledge appear to be laypeople, or women in traditions in which women do not perform weddings. Like them, he is mostly an observer, and one of his observations is that we are in “a funny time.”
If marriage moves toward becoming just “a contract between two people, the state can take care of that,” Dr. Seitz said. “And it makes a lot of sense — property, custody of children.” But he believes that marriage needs more, and that the state may be weakening, rather than enhancing, the customs and mores that uphold the institution.
Dr. Radner, the pledge’s other author, is on sabbatical in France, which has long separated religious marriage from civil marriage. Seeing the separation up close has only made him more of a fan.
“Just living here made me realize that the church can function rather well,” he said, “and also avoid some of the conflict that we seem to get all embroiled in in the U.S. over sexuality matters, by being somewhat disentangled, practically, from the civil marriage system.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Seminary / Theological Education
During this year past year, I made a very difficult decision to leave the only church I have known. I grew up in an Assemblies of God (AG) church. My family has been AG since the 1930s and is one of the oldest Pentecostal families in New Orleans. My father is an AG pastor and I have two brothers who are ordained AG ministers. I have held AG ministerial for a couple of years, but with the recent transition of the New Year (2015), my AG ministerial credentials have lapsed. God willing, I will be confirmed on January 25th into the Anglican Church by Bishop Todd Hunter at Holy Trinity in Costa Mesa.
I am not leaving with hurt, bitterness, or resentment. Quite the contrary, I maintain a deep love and respect for the church that taught me the name of Jesus. The last AG congregation I was a part of (in Pasadena, CA) was a wonderful group of people led by a theologically capable pastor that I appreciate greatly. I am excited about the direction of the AG (under George Wood) and I am confident that it will continue to thrive in the decades to come.
Because of my positive wishes toward my friends and family in the AG, I was not planning on sharing publicly my reasons for leaving. That is, I am not trying to convince people to leave the AG or even that it was a good idea for me to leave the AG. I actually want people to stay and make the AG even better. (I tried myself really hard to stay, and finally had to acknowledge that God was calling to the Anglican Church—or perhaps more accurately, God was making me into an Anglican). However, my friend (and fellow AG minister) Dan suggested that I give a public explanation for why I am leaving. His reasoning was that if people continue to leave silently, how will the AG address those issues which led to their exit from the church? I think Dan is right and so I am taking some time to explain how I became Anglican.
Read it all.
At once very much a man of God yet also a man of the world, the archbishop manages to combine both to put his evangelical faith into action, using his experience of business to push forward issues ranging from ethics in the City to payday lenders and poverty in the UK.
He has formed around him a team of expert advisers and cut through Lambeth Palace bureaucracy to ensure he has the people he needs to turn his vision into reality.
"It's a style of leadership nurtured in the business world. He doesn't mess around, and he has a very clear vision of where he wants to go," says Ruth Gledhill, contributing editor to Christian Today.
"His leadership has meant that you can feel a brightening and lifting of the atmosphere in church - and you think 'maybe we have got a future'.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology
While certainly Neuhaus was..-[indeed] still is - a tremendous influence on me, [my wife] Dianne's announcement set me to examining my Lutheran life, and in some ways it's not as Lutheran as it once was. I write regularly for a Catholic magazine. Everybody senior on the staff at First Things is Catholic. I know as many priests as I do pastors, people I hang out with on email and the like, and I point out not a few of those priests were once Lutheran pastors. Not to slight you or anyone you know, it has just happened in my life that my intellectual and best theological compatriots these days are largely Roman Catholic.
What I have always sought - since seminary on - is to be in a church that finally gives expression to the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession. There is no Lutheran expression doing that. Most of my 17 years as editor of Forum Letter was spent, so it seems, showing Lutherans how far we have fallen from the practice of parish life described in our own confession.
There are evangelically catholic centers of Lutheran congregational life, and some that are deeply so, And there are evangelically catholic-minded pastors seeking parish renewal by Creed, Catechism, Confession, and praise God for it. The Church must continually struggle "against forces that always strike the Church and gospel: the fashions and fads of Gnosticisms ancient and new . . . the devaluation of the sacraments through neglect, the socially accommodating spirit of Church Growth excitements, and the gross appetite of a politicized bureaucracy." (Forum Letter 19:9, September 1990). It may be, I'll find out, the best field for the contestation in that struggle is with Rome.
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He had not been surprised by the differences he found, which mostly arose from the diversity of very different cultures. He admitted that he disagreed “profoundly” with some of their views. The Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church in the United States are polar opposites, and the Archbishop was circumspect in speaking of both. He voiced his respect for the way that the Nigerians were coping with the pressures they were facing, especially the challenges of violence and corruption. They, and also the church in Pakistan, faced issues that would “buckle any other church”.
And although the church in America almost provoked an open schism with the consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, Welby said his visit had been something of a breakthrough. “It was a real gift in terms of communication. At least there was understanding why we disagreed with each other when we disagreed, rather than simply disagreeing and not understanding each other.” But he added: “The situation there is complicated, to put it mildly.”
Learning to disagree without hatred has been a theme of the Archbishop’s ministry. He argues that “good disagreement” is vital (although some churches did not accept that). He did not want to see the same level of bitterness that had characterised some disputes in the past. There had been a danger, he admitted, of parts of the Anglican Communion drifting into that.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Mr Lyon then shared the preliminary plans for ACC-16. He stressed that there had been some thinking around how to ensure every participant, regardless of their background, to had a common understanding of what the Anglican Consultative Council meeting is and is for.
This prompted a discussion among the Standing Committee about the future of the Instruments of Communion in relation to other Anglican Communion gatherings that might be more relational, conversational and perhaps missional in nature.
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori mentioned that at a recent meeting between the Episcopal Church and several senior bishops from across Africa [read more], there had been “significant energy” behind the idea of an Anglican ‘gathering’ of some kind, above and beyond the Instruments of Communion.
Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi said, “The Toronto Congress created the language of mutual responsibility and interdependence. Now there’s a feeling that again we need that [another chance to meet in this kind of way]. A wider gathering of Christians—Anglicans and Episcopalians, lay and ordained—coming together to see and discuss and share and build relationships.
“The Instruments of Communion, they have a 10-year schedule or three-year schedule. In the present world of instant communications, that’s becoming a long time. What happens between those meetings? If communion is really communion then we want something new [over and above the Instruments].”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Reports & Communiques Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Ritter points to a maxim popular among Methodists: "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity."
"I don’t know of anyone who feels that homosexuality is a central issue in the Christian faith, but behind it lies the larger issue of biblical authority,” he said. "It is difficult to see how a house divided on such a foundational issue could stand— unless perhaps it is a duplex."
Unity is itself an essential, said Methodist pastor Jason Byassee. "Every pastor has counseled married couples who say, 'It’s hard to be together,'" said the Duke Divinity School fellow. "We say, 'I know. It’s called cross-bearing. Figure this thing out.'"
"Staying together or separating is less important than our being a people of grace and truth," said Renfroe. "That’s when God will bless our witness to the world."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Whatever we may think about any or all of these points, and even if I am wrong about a good deal of this, I don’t need to be right about all of it for the following to be inevitable—- just as in the case of the Episcopal Church, and in some Christian Churches, and some Lutheran Churches, and some Presbyterian Churches, and some Baptist Churches this whole move will result in loss of membership. It will not stop the current bleeding, it will accelerate it. Just take a look at the before and after stats for these other mainline churches.
If we want to further diminish the integrity and influence of our church in our American society, then this is a good way to assure that will happen. The old saying ‘in essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity’ is a good dictum, as long as we agree on what the essentials are when it comes to something as fundamental as ordination or the nature Christian marriage which is supposed to be holy matrimony. But alas we don’t agree on these vital things. We cannot have a ‘United Methodist Church’ if we don’t at least agree on the most basic theological and ethical essentials which are currently enshrined in our Discipline— both the doctrines enshrined in our Discipline and the ethics as well. Short of that, we should quietly agree to become two different Methodist Churches.
Of course any such major change as a reorganization into two jurisdictions requires a two thirds vote at the General Conference. I can’t see such a two jurisdiction solution getting to that number of votes. Quo Vadis then UMC? My suggestion is that those who cannot in good conscience abide by the Discipline as we have it, and John Wesley’s teachings on celibacy as we have it, and the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics and marriage (see Mt. 19 where the latter is defined quite clearly as heterosexual monogamy) should be brave and start a new venture, the Progressive Methodist Church. Those prepared to continue to abide by our doctrines and disciplines should simply stay and go forward.
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Half of the most senior bishoprics in the Church of England could be held by women in ten years’ time, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today after the general synod voted to permit their consecration.
The church was also challenged to end the next area of “prejudice” and appoint its first gay bishop.
The Most Rev Justin Welby hailed a “completely new phase” of the church’s existence and said that it could take as little as ten or 15 years for women to make up half of the house of bishops, the church’s senior leadership.
“It depends on how many people retire,” Archbishop Welby said. The church was building a large pool of candidates for its highest offices where “gender is irrelevant”, although he would not give any indication of which diocese would be the first to be overseen by a woman.
Read it all (requires subscription).
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In order to get to it, go to this page and hit the arrow at week 8 to begin listening.
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The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: Parents.
Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.
Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid- to late 20s.
In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.
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More than four in 10 Anglican clergy would support loosening ties between church and state or severing them altogether, a major new study on attitudes in the pulpit in the UK shows.
The research also found that a significant minority of serving clerics would support breaking up the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion and even the Church of England itself along doctrinal lines amid disputes over issues such as homosexuality and the interpretation of the Bible.
Polling by YouGov for the Religion and Society Programme, an academic unit based at Lancaster University, also found that just over half of serving Anglican clergy believe Christians in Britain are suffering discrimination from the Government through the application of equality laws.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
the first two days of November are for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the "last things" of life. In fact in celebrating all the saints and commemorating all the faithful departed, in the Liturgy the pilgrim Church on earth lives and expresses the spiritual bond which unites her to the Church in heaven. Today we praise God for the countless host of holy men and women of all ages: simple men and women, who sometimes were the "last" for the world, but "first" for God. At the same time we already remember our departed loved ones by visiting cemeteries: It is a source of great consolation to think that they are in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and all the saints of Heaven!
Today's Solemnity thus helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the "Creed": the communion of saints. It is the communion that comes from faith and unites all those who belong to Christ by Baptism. It is a spiritual union that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life. In fact there is an unbreakable bond between us living in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of death. We here on earth, along with those who have entered into eternity, form one great family.
This beautiful communion between heaven and earth takes place in the highest and most intense way in the Liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, which expresses and fulfills the deepest union between the members of the Church.
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Historically, schisms have been rather public, bloody things. This was clearly the case when the church split between East and West. Even though some hope of reconciliation was on the table at various points, excommunications had been traded, Crusades had happened, and everybody knew the two or three theological disputes that needed settling. Roughly the same thing could be said of the split between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Following a number of bloody wars, mutual persecutions, and martyrdoms, the results were different communions, confessional documents, and other marks of separation.
In their recent book Deep Church Rising: The Third Schism and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy, Andrew Walker and Robin Parry argue that, unbeknownst to many, the Western church is in the midst of a third great schism. Unlike the last two, though, the split hasn't resulted in a clear line between new denominations and old ones, but runs right through the various churches of the West. On one side stand those who affirm a broadly supernaturalist Christian orthodoxy embodied in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. And on the other, you find those who can at best recite the creeds with their fingers crossed. Having embraced the various presuppositions of Enlightenment and postmodern thinking, they are skeptical of supernatural claims and often doubt the very idea of objective truth.
Read it all.
A bishop has warned the Church of England must make wholesale change to halt the slide in attendance, or wither away in the 21st century.
Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said he feared unless the Church reinvented itself in his own diocese, it would disappear like the region’s textile industry.
The warning from Bishop Henderson follows similar concerns from colleagues around the country that urgent action is needed to prevent dwindling numbers heralding the end of the Church.
Bishop Henderson made the warning as he launched a 12-year-plan to attract younger people to the Church.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
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Shortly after the TEC House of Bishops met in Taiwan, a group went to West Malaysia. They announced that they had heard the consecration of a new assistant bishop was about to take place and they were there to participate. Leaders in the Anglican Church in Malaysia said, “You are welcome—to our country. You cannot participate in the service however, because of the actions you have taken to tear the fabric of the communion and you remain unrepentant. We are not in Communion with you, so you cannot participate in the service.”
The visit was part of TEC’s initiative to demonstrate that they are fully part of the Communion and are in relationships with other Anglican Provinces. The tactic has been used in a number of places in Africa where they visit, are received with hospitality (because that is the culture of those people), and then take pictures to demonstrate that there are no significant issues even though there may be disagreement over things like sexuality.
In this case, the TEC plan did not work in Malaysia. The leaders in the Diocese of West Malaysia are very well informed and steadfastly faithful. Not only did they turn TEC away, they knew I was traveling in South East Asia so they sent me a message. “Can you change your travel plans to be at the consecration we are having in Kuala Lumpur? We want to demonstrate that we are not in Communion with TEC, but we are in Communion with the ACNA. If you can get here, we’d like to make your visit highly visible.”
I was able to change my itinerary and arrived in time to participate in the Consecration including the laying on of hands for Charles Samuel, consecrated as Assistant Bishop for the Panang district of the Diocese of West Malaysia.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Latest News Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby --Rowan Williams Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
In essence, [Justin] Welby's comments have re-stirred a critical question: Is being Anglican about being in communion with Caterbury, or is it about holding certain shared theological views?
Wood noted that Welby also said in the interview, "There is no Anglican Pope," and that "decisions are made collectively and collegially."
"The status of the ACNA within the Anglican Communion would, by extension of the same logic, be dependent upon the decisions of the primates and not solely upon the personal opinion Archbishop Justin," [Steve] Wood said.
Read it all.
If we are going to reflect on a theme like “The Ethics of Sex, Marriage and Family,” and presume to be doing so on the basis of the canon of scripture, we must be prepared to accept a cardinal reality. To speak of Christian Ethics is to speak of scripture in action, in the lived life of Christian formation and catechesis. Increasingly, very few progressives dismiss the scriptural record on sex, marriage and family. Some of course still do. They are bold to proclaim that the biblical witness is not just wrong in its parts (Genesis 1-3 as ancient Hebrew musing, Paul as wrong or speaking about something else, Jesus as all loving and disinterested in a modern phenomenon like gayness, which exists in a timeframe the bible does not nor could ever be expected to comprehend). The Bible is wrong, outdated, or just not addressing the matter of the challenge of new understandings of sex and human thriving, altogether. If it gets things right, it does so accidentally or inferentially, like the proverbial blind hog finding an acorn.
I mention this right up front because, as with the early church, what we now see is something else: a heavy assault mounted from within Christian circles themselves on prior understandings of the estate of marriage and its goods. Not from cultural despisers or secularists, but from those who purport to argue that their new understanding is indeed scriptural after all. Many secular and religious proponents of same-sexuality had concluded earlier that marriage was a patriarchal invention that no card-carrying proponent of sexual liberation—gay or straight—ought to go near. Inside Christian circles, this has changed.
So alongside those dubious about scripture having anything to say, accidentally or properly, are those who argue that their new understanding of sexuality is somehow biblical after all. In this sense, the debate over marriage, sex and family is one in which both sides, or several sides, all appeal to scripture. That is, not unlike the early church examples just cited. So we must ask: What account of scripture is it that has been brought to bear on our present and older understandings of sex, marriage, and family. Because of its scale, depth, and complex two-testament character, Scripture is infinitely capable of producing multiple interpretations. Irenaeus used the image of a mosaic. One receives a gift of scripture with all its myriad pieces, and the goal of interpretation is to see the face of the king, Jesus Christ, when all the pieces are properly and proportionally assembled....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Christology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
(Blog readers are asked to note that "the newspaper is editorially independent of the Church of Ireland, the views expressed in the newspaper, including editorial comment, not necessarily reflecting official Church of Ireland policy.")--KSH.
ORDER & TIMING OF TOPICS
The Anglican Communion, 00:00-02:22;
Anglicans/Episcopalians in North America, 02:22-04.45;
The Lambeth Conference, 04:45-05:40;
Payday lenders & Wonga, 05:40-08:33;
The Media, 08:33-10:00;
European Court of Human Rights & Human Rights issues, 10:00-13:07;
ISIL & Iraq situation, 13:07-17:10;
Northern Ireland political situation, 17:10-18:47;
Doubt in the Christian life, 18:47-end.
Read and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Culture-Watch Media * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ecclesiology
The Diocese of NW Australia, meeting in synod this weekend, passed the following motion,
That this synod:
welcomes the impending investiture of the Most Reverend Dr Foley Beach, the Archbishop of The Anglican Church in North America;
recognizes the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) as a member church of the Anglican Communion, in full communion with Diocese of North West Australia; rejoices that the orthodox faith is proclaimed in word and deed through ACNA and its member churches...
Read it all.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was unable and unwilling to do what was necessary to save either of the two initiatives. Consequently, the bishops of ECUSA (who received their invitations to Lambeth as though nothing had happened) had no motivation to change course. Indeed, the latter were only too willing to see the Primates' efforts fail, without their having to do anything overt to torpedo them. And Lambeth itself was both a collegial dud (thanks to the imposed but phony indaba gimmick) and a financial disaster.
By 2008 the hostility and disputes inside ECUSA spilled over into the uncanonical depositions of four orthodox bishops -- three of them diocesan (+Schofield, +Duncan and +Iker). The lawsuits picked up in earnest, and largely remain unabated to this day. These blatantly illegal actions by the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA directly brought about the formation of what in time became the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). The division of ECUSA was now formal -- even if most of those whose actions had led to it refused to recognize what had happened.
Dr. Williams' dithering over Lambeth, ECUSA's thumbing its nose at him over pastoral oversight, and its continued actions against dissident bishops and clergy, greatly widened the fractures in the Anglican Communion. Over three hundred bishops from African denominations refused to attend Lambeth, and a number of the Global South primates announced GAFCON's first gathering, timed to take place before Lambeth 2008 even convened. The division within the Anglican Communion was now formal, even though again most refused to recognize what was happening.
After the events of 2008 within ECUSA, there was no longer any reason for the revisionists in ECUSA to hold back in the slightest.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
[Linda] Woodhead sees Fresh Expressions and other forms of missionary outreach as attempts to boost the God-fearers. She puts her faith in both the churchgoing and non-churchgoing mainstream. There are several problems with this strategy. With admitted exceptions, clergy tend to be recruited from the committed. As numbers shrink, it becomes more difficult to recruit able candidates, especially able young candidates. Studying American evangelicals, Christian Smith has suggested, teaches us that churches thrive when they have a distinctive message but remain in dialogue with the secular society. What is crucial is that Christians choose the right issues on which to make a stand. Woodhead ignores signs that the number of those who claim church affiliation but are not active members or believers is in decline as more claim to be ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’. Woodhead herself has studied this pattern in Kendal. One move would be to make the Church more welcoming of spiritual seekers and turn clergy into what the NHS already terms ‘spiritual care givers’. Questions need to be asked about how far the Church can go in this direction and still be Christian.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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"Our expectations are to be God's expectations" for the church."
Listen to it all if you so desire.
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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.
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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.
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...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.
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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".
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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....
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...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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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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.
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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.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
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.
Read it all.
“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....
Read it all.
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.
Read or listen to it all (just slightly under 9 1/3 minutes).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology Ecclesiology Seminary / Theological Education
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