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TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN CHURCHES

"Continuing Anglican" Churches - Arguably the most consistently traditional or "classical" Anglican churches.

Continuing Anglican Miscellany

"Anglican Realignment" Churches (ACNA, AMiA, and others) - Conservative but markedly less traditional.

Reformed Episcopal Church - Currently part of the Anglican Realignment but these days much more like the traditional Continuing Anglican bodies.

ANGLICAN BLOGS AND WEB SITES

1662 Book of Common Prayer Online

1928 Book of Common Prayer Online

A Living Text

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Akenside Press

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ἀναστόμωσις

Anglican Audio

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The Anglophilic Anglican

A BCP Anglican

The Book of Common Prayer (Blog of Photos)

The Book of Common Prayer (Online Texts)

The Cathedral Close

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Classical Anglicanism:  Essays by Fr. Robert Hart

Cogito, Credo, Petam

Colorado Anglican Society

CommonPrayer.org

(The Old) Continuing Anglican Churchman

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The Cure of Souls

Drew's Views

The Evangelical Ascetic

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Forward in Christ Magazine

Forward in Faith North America

Francis J. Hall's Theological Outlines

Free Range Anglican

The Hackney Hub

Gavin Ashenden

International Catholic Congress of Anglicans

Jesse Nigro's Thoughts

The Latimer Trust

Martin Thornton

New Goliards

New Scriptorium (Anglican Articles and Books Online)

The North American Anglican

O cuniculi! Ubi lexicon Latinum posui?

The Ohio Anglican Blog

The Old High Churchman

Philorthodox

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The Prayer Book Society, USA

Project Canterbury

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Prydain

Reformed Catholicism

Reformed Episcopal Church

The Ridley Institute

River Thames Beach Party

The Secker Society

Society of Archbishops Cranmer and Laud

The Southern High Churchman

Stand Firm

Texanglican

The Theologian

The World's Ruined

TitusOneNine

To All The World

Trinity House Blog

United Episcopal Church of North America

Virtue Online

We See Through A Mirror Darkly

Wyclif

HUMOR 

The Babylon Bee

Bad Vestments

The Low Churchman's Guide to the Solemn High Mass

Lutheran Satire

"WORSHIP WARS"

Ponder Anew: Discussions about Worship for Thinking People

RESISTING LEFTIST ANTICHRISTIANITY

Black-Robed Regiment

Cardinal Charles Chaput Reviews "For Greater Glory" (Cristero War)

Cristero War

Benedict Option

Jim Kalb: How Bad Will Things Get?

Trouble

RESISTING ISLAMIC ANTICHRISTIANITY

Christians in the Roman Army: Countering the Pacifist Narrative

Bernard of Clairvaux and the Knights Templar

Gates of Nineveh

Gates of Vienna

Islamophobes (We're in good company)

Jihad Watch

Nineveh Plains Protection Units

Restore Nineveh Now - Nineveh Plains Protection Units

Sons of Liberty International (SOLI)

The Muslim Issue

Trouble

OTHER SITES AND BLOGS, MANLY, POLITICAL AND WHATNOT

Abbeville Institute Blog

Art of the Rifle

The Art of Manliness

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture

Church For Men

The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, (Leon Podles' online book)

The Counter-Revolution

Craft Beer

Cranmer

Eclectic Orthodoxy

First Things

The Imaginative Conservative

Joffre the Giant: Excursions in Christian Virility

Katehon

Men of the West

Mercurius Pragmaticus Redivivus

Mere Comments

Mitre and Crown

Monomakhos (Eastern Orthodox; Paleocon)

Paterfamilias Daily

Tales of Chivalry

The Midland Agrarian

Those Catholic Men

Tim Holcombe: Anti-State; Pro-Kingdom

Midwest Conservative Journal

Numavox Records (Music of Kerry Livgen & Co.)

Pint, Pipe and Cross Club

The Pipe Smoker

Red River Orthodox

The Salisbury Review

Throne, Altar, Liberty

Project Appleseed (Basic Rifle Marksmanship)

Turnabout

What's Wrong With The World: Dispatches From The 10th Crusade

Wovenhand

WOMEN'S ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD

A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son  (Yes, this is about women's ordination.)

An (Extended) Short History of the Diaconate

Essays on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood from the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth

Father is Head at the Table: Male Eucharistic Headship and Primary Spiritual Leadership, Ray Sutton

God, Gender and the Pastoral Office, S.M. Hutchens

God, Sex and Gender, Gavin Ashenden

Homo Hierarchicus and Ecclesial Order, Brian Horne

How Ordaining Women Harms Ministry to Men, C.R. Wiley

Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters, J.I. Packer

Liturgy and Interchangeable Sexes, Peter J. Leithart

Ordaining Women as Deacons: A Reappraisal of the Anglican Mission in America's Policy

Priestesses in Plano, Robert Hart

Priestesses in the Church?, C.S. Lewis

Reasons for Questioning Women’s Ordination in the Light of Scripture, Rodney Whitacre

Streams of the River: Articles Outlining the Arguments Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

Traditional Anglican Resources

William Witt's Articles on Women's Ordination (Old Jamestown Church archive)

Women Priests?, Eric Mascall

Women and the Priesthood, Catholic Answers

Women Priests: History & Theology, Patrick Reardon

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                  Theme Music:  Healey Willan - Missa brevis No. 2 in F Minor

Friday
Sep072012

Iranian-American Songstress-Goddess Azam Ali: O Quanta Qualia - A Hymn of Peter Abelard, and An Anglican Commentary Thereon

O quanta, qualia sunt illa sabbata
quae semper celebrat superna curia.
quae fessis requies, quae merces fortibus,
cum erit omnia Deus in omnibus.

vere Ierusalem est illa civitas,
cuius pax iugis est, summa iucunditas,
ubi non praevenit rem desiderium,
nec desiderio minus est praemium.

quis rex, quae curia, quale palatium,
quae pax, quae requies, quod illud gaudium,
huius participes exponant gloriae,
si quantum sentiunt, possint exprimere.

nostrum est interim mentem erigere
et totis patriam votis appetere,
et ad Ierusalem a Babylonia
post longa regredi tandem exilia.

illic molestiis finitis omnibus
securi cantica Sion cantibimus,
et iuges gratias de donis gratiae
beata referet plebs tibi, Domine.

illic ex sabbato succedet sabbatum,
perpes laetitia sabbatizantium,
nec ineffabiles cessabunt iubili,
quos decantabimus et nos et angeli.

perenni Domino perpes sit gloria,
ex quo sunt, per quem sunt, in quo sunt omnia;
ex quo sunt, Pater est; per quem sunt, Filius;
in quo sunt, Patris et Filii Spiritus.

 

ON BABYLON'S STRAND

Margaret Laird claims Peter Abelard as a contemporary

THERE IS A HYMN, not perhaps sung as often as it once was, which expresses most aptly the situation in which so many faithful orthodox Anglicans find themselves at the beginning of this new millennium. The hymn dates from the Middle Ages and like most hymns of that period, contains purer expressions of doctrine than that of most contemporary hymnody. The fact that mediaeval hymns have been used throughout the ages in Christian liturgy adds to their attraction and this is particularly true of the subject of this article.

In order to appreciate any literature fully, it is essential to take some account of the context and age in which it was written. In this case, it was the twelfth century, the age of a great cultural movement, so rich in art, architecture, scholarship and literature, that it has often been described as the 'Twelfth Century Renaissance'. It was, of course, an age of faith and the key to the understanding of this period lies in theology - a theology which attracted and produced some of the greatest scholars and teachers, the most brilliant of whom was Peter Abelard.

And so, at last, the hymn can be identified. It is J M Neale's translation of:

'O quanta qualia sunt illa Sabbata'

or 'O what their joy and their glory must be,
Those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see!'

The original Latin version has been attributed to Peter Abelard.

There are many reasons why faithful Anglicans may benefit from a study of this hymn but extreme sabbatarian sympathy is not one of them. It is, however, mainly because of the way in which Peter Abelard uses the imagery of the Sabbath to illustrate the contrast between life now and life hereafter and at the same time, to demonstrate the tenuous link between heaven and earth.

Like so many of the faithful in the Church today, Abelard's experience of the mediaeval Church was by no means happy. His theological stance and superior intellect gave rise to opposition and even to hatred and envy amongst his contemporaries. His academic career suffered when his writings were publicly condemned and in his personal life, his romantic love affair with Heloise ended in tragedy and frustration. Is it any wonder that he longed for the life hereafter?

Where:
'Wish and fulfilment can severed be ne'er,
Nor the thing prayed for come short of the prayer.

Peter Abelard was born in Brittany of Breton parents and his independence of thought, his vivid poetic imagination and his keen awareness of the supernatural, doubtless flowed from his Celtic roots. These qualities are reflected in his description of the heavenly courts:

'What are the Monarch, his court, and his throne?
What are the peace and the joy that they own?
Tell us, ye blest ones, that in it have share,
If what ye feel ye can fully declare.'

Like all Celts, he could not envisage the heavenly Jerusalem without music:

'One and unending is that triumph-song
Which to the Angels and us shall belong.'

It is, however, in the penultimate verse of the hymn that Abelard expresses with deep emotion what he had discovered from his own experience - that during our earthly existence, we must accept the limitations of this life. Things here will never be perfect, even in the Church.

'Now in the meanwhile, with hearts raised on high,
We for that country must yearn and must sigh,
Seeking Jerusalem, dear native land,

Through our long exile on Babylon's strand.'

Although in this life, we are already members of that heavenly Jerusalem and subject to its Monarch, as yet, we are unable to enjoy all its privileges. We are, as Abelard expresses it 'exiles on Babylon's strand'. The Jews in exile in Babylon were deprived of their Temple and its worship and of their Priesthood. Similarly, many faithful orthodox Anglicans, who are isolated from those of like mind, are deprived of the opportunity to receive the sacrament of the altar in their own parish churches and are unable to accept the priestly ministry of their incumbents. The Act of Synod has been a life line to many and is still desperately needed, but the PEVs are only too well aware that there are still a large number of the faithful who are unable to benefit from the protection it offers.

During their long exile, many of the Jews remained loyal to the faith of their fathers and although deprived of the outward symbols of their religion, used this time in their history to deepen their theological knowledge and spiritual understanding. Likewise, orthodox or traditional Anglicans must not lose heart. During what might be described as their 'exile', they must continue to defend the doctrines and teaching which have been upheld by the universal Church for two thousand years. They must also resist resolutely the efforts of those who attempt to conform the Church to the standards of the world. It is well worth recalling some words of Bishop Graham Leonard that "though men reject the Church when she is true to herself, they despise her when she is conformed to the world."

All this will not be easy and the results of those efforts may not be seen in our lifetime. However, there is no room for despondency as long as we believe that orthodoxy will ultimately triumph as it has done in the past, often against the most tremendous odds.

Abelard's hymn ends on a note of hope. Although at present, we may be 'exiles on Babylon's strand', of one thing we can be certain and that is that for each of us, the exile will come to an end. Physical death is a necessity which is laid upon us but because of the Cross, because of the Resurrection, death holds no fear for members of the heavenly kingdom. Death simply means 'the end of the exile' and the opportunity to enjoy fully the privileges of the Kingdom:

'Crown for the valiant, to weary ones rest;
God shall be All and in all ever blest'.

and the chance to worship him:

'Low before him with our praises we fall,
of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all.'

Peter Abelard's hymn ends with a doxology which, in two brief lines, not only expresses the doctrine but leads us on to the worship of the Holy Trinity:

'Of whom, the Father; and through whom, the Son;
In whom, the Spirit, with these ever One. Amen.'

Margaret Laird

is a member of Forward in Faith in the diocese of St Alban's

Thursday
Sep062012

And Then There's This

Wednesday
Sep052012

Work, Fight, Pray

Thursday
Aug302012

Lewis vs. The Occupier

 

Saturday
Aug252012

Whole Lotta Hemming and Hawing Going On: USCCB on Anglican Orders

Friday
Aug242012

The Life and Times of the Embryo Parson

(Revised 8-21-2015)

I'm not actually going to bore you all with some detailed and narcissistic account of my "life and times", but I do want to give my readers a brief "spiritual autobiography" that will explain, at least in part, why I have come to the conclusions I have about the Anglican Way.

I come from a long line of Southerners who came from the British Isles and Northwestern Europe.  I grew up not in the Southern states of America, however, but in Southern California.  I grew up there because my father and mother, from Arkansas and Oklahoma respectively, moved there in 1940 as part of the great migration of Southerners looking for work. 

My father was Primitive Baptist (PB) and my mother a Missionary Baptist.  They did nevertheless get along theologically, my mother adopting the high predestinarianism of the PBs but never converting to the PB church.  (She took communion exactly once after she married my dad.  The PBs practice close communion, but during my brief sojourn in a Lutheran parish that had a rather "liberal" policy on communion, she and I took communion there together several years before she died.  It was the only time I ever took communion with either of my parents.) 

One problem with the PBs is that while they have a fairly strong presence in the South, there isn't much of one in SoCal, so I believe I attended a PB church only twice in my childhood days as the nearest one was 80 miles away.  My mom made a couple of half-hearted efforts to take me to local Southern Baptist Sunday schools, but that never really "took" due in no small part to the fact that my sectarian parents didn't like what the Southern Baptists taught.  So, I spent the bulk of my childhood years unchurched, though to their credit my parents did a fairly good job of teaching me about the Christian faith.  As a child, I really believed that faith.

But it was a Christian faith I deliberately tossed aside when I happened upon the seductions of the 1960s counterculture in my early teens.   In late 1973 and early 1974, however, things started happening to me psychologically and spiritually that drove me to the old King James Bible my mother gave me when I was a kid.  One day after I finshed reading the Gospel of John and then Paul's Epistle to the Romans, I said to myself, "that's IT", and I flushed $75 worth of hash oil down the toilet. 

Having had an Evangelical-style conversion experience and having been influenced throughout my teenage years by a number of Evangelical Christians, I naturally became an Evangelical myself.  After a bit of spiritual meandering, I ended up at an Evangelical college, where I obtained a degree in biblical studies, and later at an Evangelical seminary, where I pursued theological studies and graduated with a Master's degree. 

During my undergrad and graduate studies and through the influences of Anglican Catholic and Orthodox friends, I became an avid student of church history -- including the history before the Reformation -- and the Church Fathers.  Dovetailing with this was the fact that I had become very disenchanted with Evangelical worship forms.  To me, there was a huge disconnect between what I viewed as the depth and profundity (or gravitas, or kabod) of God and the message communicated by Evangelicalism's subculture, especially as it expressed itself in worship.  I had learned about something called "liturgy" and the "liturgical churches" where a different culture of worship existed, so I started trying them out:  Lutheran; Anglican Catholic; Episcopalian; Roman Catholic; Orthodox.   By the late 80s/early 90s I was well on my way to reading myself out of an "Evangelical mind" and into a "Catholic mind", and I had narrowed my choices down to two:  Anglican Catholic or Orthodox.  Just barely, Orthodoxy won out.  I was chrismated in 1992.

I stayed in the Orthodox Church  longer than I did in any other church during my Evangelical days, approximately 13 years.  But as the Spirit moved upon me in 1974, urging me to come to Christ, 30 or so years later when I was in the Orthodox Church, I began sensing an urge to come home to the biblical and apostolic faith of my fathers, the Catholic Church of England.

Like so many converts to Orthodoxy from Evangelicalism, I had become "true Orthodox"; a devotee of Orthodoxy as ideology.  I had not become quite as bad as "Vasili" in this article, but at points I was very close.  Thankfully, that mentality was temporary.  Several things occured:

1) Slowly but surely, after repressing a nagging issue for so long, I began asking myself why there is such a disconnect between what the Bible has to say about salvation and what the Orthodox Church says about it.  Not that the Orthodox Church is wrong in what it understands about theosis;  that can be found in Western Christian spirituality too.  Rather, I came to see that it's soteriology is somewhat stunted or incomplete.  It needs St. Paul, and it needs St. Augustine.  The apostle it largely ignores; the Catholic doctor of the Church it often excoriates.

2) I grew increasingly tired of the attacks on "the West" from the pulpits and publishing houses of the Orthodox Church, especially since, on certain issues anyway, the Western theological approach seemed more rational and/or biblical than the Orthodox theological approach.  I kept wondering why the Orthodox are so constitutionally anti-Western;

3) I began to ponder the question, if Evangelicals are truly the spiritually benighted folk Orthodox spokesmen and literature often said or at least implied they are, then how is it that so many of these Evangelicals live such spiritually exemplary lives -- much more exemplary than the life of the rank-and-file, nominal Orthodox Christian -- and whose holiness rivals if not exceeds the holiness of many of Orthodoxy's most revered saints and contemporary "holy elders"?;

4) I became annoyed by the negative attitude of many Eastern Orthodox concerning the Orthodox Western Rites, an attitude harbored by what appears to be the vast majority of Orthodox Christians.  I had come to love the Holy Communion service of the Book of Common Prayer.  The vast majority of Orthodox who know of the Liturgy of St. Tikhon have not been mollified by St. Tikhon's Orthodoxizing tweaks to the BCP.  Why?  Their parochial attitude began to get under my skin;

5) In 2003, all of this sort of came to ahead when my father passed away.   Having drifted from the PB churches for one reason or another, my mom and dad had no church community to bury him.  So my mom asked me to find someone there in the little town where they lived and where I had gone to college.  I knew that community in a way she did not.  The reaction of the Evangelical community there, expressed in the form of an outpouring of love for a man they didn't even know, was enough to drive home the point to me, once and for all, that these people have the life of God in them, the manifestation of which, as I said, is equal to if not exceeds that of Orthodoxy's holiest people.  They are certainly holier than the man who was my bishop at the time, a man who was notorious for both his ugly antics on various online Orthodox discussion boards and his support of people who were ultimately censured by the OCA for their role in the recent finanicial scandal.  When I posted something on one of those boards about how I believed the Lord had sent our family various little "signs" of His presence among us in the wake of the funeral, telling us that Dad was OK, said bishop responded by telling me that this is all so much hooey and "prelest", and that because my dad hadn't been baptized there was no eternal hope for him.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back, something for which I must grudgingly thank this bishop who is now, happily for the church, "out to pasture".  I thank him because a year or so after that I attended my last Divine Liturgy and then began a several-year process trying to figure out, exactly, where that "home" was to which the Spirit was calling me.   As for my father, as near as I can tell the real reason that he  (a *Baptist*, mind you) wasn't baptized was that he had a fear of water.  That became more or less confirmed to me over the years, though he really never wanted to talk about it.  I did pour some holy water on his grave, beseeching the Lord to count that as his baptism, but I wonder if that was even really necessary, as I can recount numerous times tears would well up in my father's eyes as he'd read a precious passage of Scripture.  I figure he was likely baptized by those tears, or more precisely, that they were a manifestation of an internal baptism of the Spirit that had aleady occurred.

6) This experience, plus my own *theological* reflection on the exclusivist ecclesiology of the Orthodox church, led me back to an ecclesiology that included Evangelicals in the church.  Read most any book or article on the subject in Orthodox sources and you will find an assertion to the effect that while Protestants may be godly people they are not, strictly speaking, members of the Church.  This, however, is a proposition that is patently absurd, as it enjoys neither empirical nor biblical support.   So absurd, in fact, that some Orthodox scholars are starting to backpedal on the issue, as are a number of Roman Catholic scholars, whose official ecclesiology calls forth the same absurd proposition.  For instance, Rome these days makes a distinction between "the Church", which she says subsists in the Roman communion, and "ecclesial communities", i.e., all those Protestant who aren't, strictly speaking, part of the Church.  Of course since "ecclesia" in Greek means "church", one wonders what Rome hopes to establish by such an argument.   Read this article for an example of Orthodox backpedaling, and these two for examples of Roman Catholic backpedaling.  Officially, however, for both communions Evangelicals cannot be in the Church.  I say hooey.  Clearly they are, though I will agree that their ecclesiologies are lacking, in that while they definitely participate in the "prophetic" mode of the church, they are lacking the "priestly" mode.

Back to the chronology.  I floated ecclesially for a few years, trying out both Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches, whose worship services only seemed to be proceeding apace from bad to worse.  What to do?  Well, eventually, as you may have guessed by now, I found a way to put both Evangelical and Catholic together: Anglicanism.  Though it has its own set of problems, the Anglican Way is, finally, a saddle that fits my butt.  It is BOTH Catholic and Augustinian.  It is the historic church of my Anglo-Saxon fathers.  It has a linguistically glorious and theologically profound cultus, more glorious and profound, I would argue, than Orthodoxy's opulent but soteriologically deficient "feast for the eyes", as Molly Sabourin calls it.  What's not to like?

So here I am, an orthodox Anglican deacon, a blogger, and a healthcare chaplain: the "Embryo Parson".  After having gone through a brief Anglo-Calvinist "cage stage" after my reception into Anglicanism in 2011,  I am settling in comforably to a form of high church, Augustinian Anglicanism that acknowledges the problematic aspects of the Reformation and accordingly looks to the Catholic past for its essential identity, something that has long been an emphasis in Anglican divinity.  (I have come to believe that when B.B. Warfield opined somewhat gleefully that the Protestant Reformation represented the triumph of Augustine's view of grace over his view of the Church,  his glee was misplaced.   Augustine would have never thought to separate them, and the corrosive effects of the more radical movements of the Reformation arguably demonstrate why he would have never separated them.)  I intend to live and die as a "Prayer Book Catholic" sort of Anglican who espouses the Pauline-Augustinian doctrines of grace, and I will try to convince some of you to join me.  Anglicanism isn't for everyone.  Nor would I begin to presume that my church is the "one true church".  But as for you disaffected Evangelicals who are looking for something more historic, more theologically balanced, and more liturgically fitting, I urge you to take a long, careful look before you move on. 

Thursday
Aug232012

Man-glicanism

On occasion here at OJC, I will blog on an issue that is of special importance to me.  It is the issue of what I've termed "Man-glicanism" (a contraction of "Manly Anglicanism"): the quest for a traditional Anglicanism that is thoroughly de-feminized and de-prissified, which is to say, totally shorn of an unfortunate legacy that Anglo-Catholicism/Ritualism bequeathed to the Anglican tradition.  I would love to see a revival of the "Muscular Christianty" project that began in the Church of England back in the 19th century in response to the creeping feminization of the day.  Of that movement, the Victorian Web states:

Beginning at mid-century, the broadchurch Anglican F.D. Maurice and his pupil, the Rev. Charles Kingsley, began espousing the virtues of muscular Christianity. Maurice and Kingsley, like many Englishmen, worried that the Anglican Church and Britain were suffering from the evils of industri alization: among others, growing slums, poverty, secularization, and urban decay. Life was a battle, Kingsley argued, and Christians should be at the center, actively employing their "manfulness" and "usefulness" against the evils of industrialization. Kingsley doubted that traditional morality would be able to cope with the effects of industrialization unless the Church reformed itself. He also deplored what many considered to be increasingly suffocating effeminacy within the Anglican Church, and believed that muscular Christian men equipped with a cohesive philosophy consisting equally of athleticism, patriotism, and religion could rescue Church and country from sloth.

Though they are related causally to those social ills referenced above, we have a somewhat different set of ills today that contribute to the diminution of manhood, feminism being one of the chief ills.  But we have forces in the Catholic Church that also contribute to it, which is the subject of Leon Podles' "must read", The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, which is available for reading on Podles' website.  I will deal with these and other modern ills in the forthcoming blog entries.

George Washington; Robert E. Lee; Leonidas Polk - exemplary specimens of Man-glicanism here in the States.  The are many others.  As orthodox Anglicans, let us work to re-enshrine the icons of the Fatherhood of God in our churches and in our culture:

                        

Saturday
Aug182012

Dr. Bradley Nassif on "Reclaiming the Gospel" in the Orthodox Church: A Lesson for Anglicans

I had a long and very illuminating telephone conversation with Dr. Nassif back in the early 90s, when I was in the throes of a conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy, and have followed his career off and on in the years since then.  I recently happened upon an essay of his that will be the subject of this blog entry.  More on that after a word of introduction.

Nassif is a cradle Orthodox Christian who had an Evangelical-style conversion experience in his mature years.  He is still a member of the Orthodox Church, but is one of the rarest of the rare in that communion, an Evangelical.  And as an Evangelical, he has written and said some pretty hard-hitting things about the need for Orthodox Christians to have a life-changing conversion experience and come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Like here, for example, in the powerful essay referenced above (and which proved to be quite controversial in Orthodox circles), "Reclaiming the Gospel."  Some salient excerpts:

A Lament Over Unchanged Lives

We all know that the Orthodox Church possesses a very rich and beautiful theological inheritance. Few would dispute the architectural wonder of our cathedrals, the artistic beauty of our iconography, or the inspirational impact of our ancient hymns and liturgical services. Our theological literature from the past continues to define the meaning of the word orthodoxy for those who have lost their way in the contemporary maze of theological liberalism, cultic religion, or postmodernism. We Orthodox have done better than all others at "not changing the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Still, it is quite obvious from the weak participation in our liturgical services and in the personal lives of some members, that Orthodoxy is often failing to meet the spiritual needs of our people -- in America as well as the motherlands of Russia, Greece, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Parishioners are coming and going in and out of church with little visible change in their lives. In short, they do not know the core content of the gospel or how to integrate its meaning into their everyday lives. I realize these are sad things to say, but a correct diagnosis precedes the proper cure.

Are Our People Evangelized or Sacramentalized?

What I'm saying is that contemporary Orthodoxy possesses the gospel in a formal way but we are not translating it in a relevant, life-changing way. The clarity of the gospel is not intentionally made central to our liturgical services and everyday lives. Formally, in its liturgy, sacraments, iconography, hymnography, spirituality, and theological literature, the Orthodox Church is extremely Christ-centered; in practice, however, it is not. Just because the gospel is formally in the life of the Church does not mean that Orthodox parishioners have understood and appropriated its message! Our bishops and priests need to make the gospel crystal clear and absolutely central in our parishes.

This is not to say sermons are not preached. They are, and are often eloquent. But very often what priests preach are not the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and His call to total commitment and what that means to everyday life and liturgy. Our leaders wrongly assume everybody knows about that subject. Instead of Christ-centered messages, we hear sermons dealing with moral values, social issues, financial giving, the environment, or the need for more Church attendance -all inseparably related to the gospel, but not to be confused with the Good News itself. In effect, the authentic gospel is replaced with a social gospel or a liturgical gospel (as if simply "going to Church" is all that is needed). I often wonder, "Are our people really evangelized, or are they simply sacramentalized?"

True sacramental preaching makes the gospel central to every liturgical act and every liturgical season of fasting and prayer. Without the centrality of the gospel we end up imposing on our people the evil of religious formalism and barren ritualism. It is, in effect, not a true Orthodoxy but a false Orthodoxy. Bishops and priests must not take for granted that everyone in the Church is converted and has no need to hear the basic gospel message. The life-changing message of the forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ must be deliberately applied to the entire sacramental life of the Church. Christ-centered preaching and Christ-centered worship must be faithfully performed by our priests and bishops if they wish to worship God truly in "spirit and in truth" (John 4).

Focus on the Centrality of "Christ," not the Centrality of "Orthodoxy"

Outside of Orthodoxy, have you noticed how the healthiest Christian communities around today are the ones who preach Christ, not their own denomination? They speak of Jesus, not their "Baptist," "Methodist" or "Pentecostal" identities. Yet, all we seem to hear from our pulpits is "Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy!" We are obsessed with self-definition through negation. It is a sick religious addiction. We often shore up our identity as Orthodox by constantly contrasting ourselves with Evangelicals or Catholics. I wish we would talk more about Christian faith, and less about "Orthodoxy". . . .

So, in the end, if we Orthodox wish to possess a truly incarnational, trinitarian faith, we will constantly need to recover the personal and relational aspects of God in every life-giving action of the Church. Failure to keep the gospel central will constitute an experiential denial of our own faith. We must stop our religious addiction to "Orthodoxy" and its "differences" with the West. We need rather to recover the evangelical dimensions of our total Church life. The liturgy itself exhorts us to that end. The four Gospels are the only books that sit upon the very center of the altar because in them alone do we hear the Good News -- all else in the Church is commentary. It is the Bible which guides and judges the Church, not the other way around. Thus, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, whose name our liturgy bears, "The lack of Scriptural knowledge is the source of all evils in the Church." I fear that many converts are coming to the Church through a revolving door, quietly leaving because their lives and families are not being sufficiently fed. Only a gospel-transformation will make the Orthodox Church healthy enough to sustain the lives of parishioners who seek spiritual nourishment in our communities.

Now, Dr. Nassif is hopeful that things will change in the Orthodox Church, in accordance with his desire to see it become Evangelical.  But in an interview on Ancient Faith Radio, he expresses his fear that up to half or slightly more Evangelicals who convert to Orthodoxy end up leaving the communion precisely because at the end of the day it simply isn't Evangelical.  And if this is the case, cradle Orthodox are not going to hear the Gospel preached.  Here is a link to the podcast, entitled Is There A "Revolving Door" in the Orthodox Church?.  Please take the time to listen to this 30 minute podcast, in which Nassif repeats some of the themes of "Reclaiming the Gospel" and also acknowledges that there may be such a revolving door in Orthodoxy.

This "sacramentalized but not evangelized" concern was also expressed by Episcopalian priest Rob Smith in his book "Leading Christians to Christ."  Surely the same phenomenon exists in every sacramental church, where many church members have come to confuse the essence of Christianity with the performance of rites, and this mainly because the Gospel has not been preached.  Or as Nassif puts it, because "pulpit does not match altar."

Of all people, Anglicans should know better.  The revisionism coming from certain Anglo-Catholic quarters notwithstanding, Anglicanism is a reformed church, and its reformation centered around the rediscovery of the Gospel and the need not only to preach it, but to pray individually and corporately in accordance with it, which is why Cranmer's prayerbook came to be.  Alas, with the passage of time and the entrance of anti-Evangelical influences, many Anglicans became either nominal or ritualist/aestheticist, or both.  But at least Anglicanism, unlike Eastern Orthodoxy, has Evangelical origins it can reclaim.  Nassif demurs, and believes those Evangelical origins can be found in the writings of many of the Eastern Church Fathers.  I would agree with Dr. Nassif that if Evangelicalism can be found there, those writings need to be brought to the consciousness of the laity through preaching and other media.  But I would argue that we will never fully know what the Gospel *is* until we come to a proper understanding of grace and justification. 

Therein lies the rub, for I would argue that grace and justification cannot be properly understood if they are not viewed in accordance with a Pauline, Augustinian, and Reformational mindset.  Yes, I am saying that Eastern Orthodoxy stands in opposition not only to the Reformation and to St. Augustine, but to St. Paul.  As Alister McGrath argues, that opposition is rooted in an unbiblical understaning of human volition:

Part of the fascination of the patristic era to the scholar lies in the efforts of its theologians to express an essentially Hebraic gospel in a Hellenistic milieu: the delights of patristic scholarship must not, however, be permitted to divert our attention from the suspicion voiced by the Liberal school in the last century - that Christ's teaching was seriously compromised by the Hellenism of its earlier adherents. The history of the development of the Christian doctrine of justification lends support to such a suspicion. In particular, it can be shown that two major distortions were introduced into the corpus of traditional belief within the eastern church at a very early stage, and were subsequently transferred to the emerging western theological tradition. These are:

1. The introduction of the non-biblical, secular Stoic concept of autoexousia or liberum arbitrium in the articulation of the human response to the divine initiative in justification.

2. The implicit equation of tsedaqa, dikaiosune and iustitia, linked with the particular association of the Latin meritum noted earlier (p.15), inevitably suggested a correlation between human moral effort and justification within the western church.

The subsequent development of the western theological tradition, particularly since the time of Augustine, has shown a reaction against both these earlier distortions, and may be regarded as an attempt to recover a more biblically orientated approach to the question of justification. . . .

The emerging patristic understanding of such matters as predestination, grace and free will is somewhat confused, and would remain so until controversy forced full discussion of the issue upon the church. Indeed, by the end of the fourth century, the Greek fathers had formulated a teaching on human free will based upon philosophical rather than biblical foundations. Standing in the great Platonic tradition, heavily influenced by Philo, and reacting against the fatalisms of their day, they taught that man was utterly free in his choice of good or evil. . . . (Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, Vol. I, pp.18-19. Emphases mine.)

When Dr. Nassif became converted to Christ as a result of the ministry of Evangelical Protestants, to which ministry he refers in the podcast, he was the beneficiary of the work of the Holy Spirit  in the New Testament's clearest explications of the Gospel, which are found in St. Paul's writings, and in the Protestant Reformation as Augustine's doctrines of grace (which are Pauline to the core) received new impetus.  I sincerely doubt the Orthodox Church will ever see it that way, given their dogged embrace of "free will" a la Hellenism and their vehement opposition to the Western Church in general and St. Augustine in particular.  I pray Anglicans who have strayed from their own formulae *will*  come to see it that way.  With Fr. Smith, I say it's all right there in the Book of Common Prayer, if Anglicans will just open their eyes.  Lex orandi lex credendi.

Thursday
Aug162012

Still I Say Swim the Tiber Without Me. (Fr. Hart Again on Anglicans With An Inferiority Complex.)

As a contributing editor to a magazine that is "A Journal of Mere Christianity," and as a fellow blogger here at the The Continuum with members of the TAC, I am cast in a diplomatic and non-partisan role. But, despite this doubly diplomatic role and my eirenic nature, I see a need to rally and defend Anglicans who feel left behind by men who appear to be Anglo-Papalists of the worst sort: The kind who have an inferiority complex and want it to rub off.

Without revealing any sources or naming names, I will quote a portion of an email I received Monday. I make no claim that it is entirely accurate, and ask for more details and for clarification. Nonetheless, it is the view of a reliable man, according to another reliable man (forgive the double sourcing. And, I hope Ed and Sandra will still be talking to me-although their own commitment to Anglicanism has never been in doubt- but, I must speak out now). The email said this :

"[This man] had been a delegate to the ACA Diocese of the Midwest Synod _this_ summer. This man has been an Anglican for many years and said he was simply, 'appalled' by the presentations at the synod. He stated they basically came out and declared Anglicanism a failure and that the Romans had it right."

Unfortunately, knowing that one of their bishops, Rt. Rev. George Langburg, was the man who said that line about a 450 year-old failed experiment, and knowing other facts that give context to that statement, I am saddened, deeply concerned, and feel that it is time to ask just what is really going on? If I have any facts wrong, to those whose position it is, please say so. Not for me, but to reassure your own people before you lose them.

Why should any Anglican have to doubt the level of commitment to Anglicanism held by his bishop and clergy? Should not these Anglicans be given some clarity about comments that Anglicanism is simply "English Culture" or "500 years of mistakes?" Is it unreasonable to ask for this clarity? Why shoud I, from the outside, be champion to worried and unhappy members of a jurisdiction to which I have never belonged? They write to me, and lay their fears and concerns out privately (And, please, before anyone quotes John 17: 21, should we really think that a few thousand people switching denominations-or creating a western Uniat- could amount to some sort of apocolyptic healing of disunity in the Universal Church? There are about three billion Christians in the world).

Keep your inferiority complex to yourself

Unfortuantely, in the last generation or so, education among some of the Anglo-Catholics in this Continuing movement has been very poor, and by no means does this problem belong exclusively to the ACA/TAC. Recently, I received an email from a man who told me this:

In my parish I've been told the 39 articles belong to a peculiar period of history and are no longer really relevant. They are too "protestant". I've also been told we do not subscribe to the 39 articles because they rule out adoration and procession of the sacrament, and this undermines the Oxford movement, etc.

The ignorance that this reveals is simply inexcusable. Anyone who wishes to be educated on why this ignorance is appalling needs only to go to the right on this page, and see the link to further links to my essays on Classic Anglicanism, including this detailed explanation of Article XXV that I posted only about a month ago. Those who read it for the first time, and learn from it, may begin to grasp that Anglicans who hold to Classic Anglican doctrine have nothing of which to be ashamed. I make a deliberate point of using Article XXV itself, the most misunderstood Article of all, to demonstrate that the English Reformers were the most true and faithful Catholics of their time. They were right then to reject the innovations of Rome, as we are right to reject Roman innovations now.

The best path back to the doctrine of the earliest Catholic Fathers and Bishops, that is, to the teaching that truly is Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est, lies not through Rome, but through the English Reformers. Truly educated Anglicans of the Continuum, have no reason to feel inferior to their Roman Catholic brethren. Indeed, it is Rome that has learned many things from us, though they cannot admit it.

I say to you who have an inferiority complex regarding your Anglican affiliation and Rome, read my essays, as well as Fr. Kirby's Apologetics, and begin to learn. If not, you may swim the Tiber without me, and get buyer's remorse later.

(Article and combox discussion here.)

Wednesday
Aug152012

Fr. Hart: Swim the Tiber Without Me

Classic:

I would like to address some of my dear Anglo-Catholic brethren. Not so much the learned ones who appreciate their Anglican heritage, but the effeminate fussy ones whose inferiority complex toward the Italian Mission (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) is quite inexplicable. Don't misunderstand. Roman Catholicism is not the enemy; it is a valid way of being Catholic, better than Protestantism in terms of the sacraments, but defective compared to your own heritage. At the end of the day, if you cannot see the truth of your Anglican heritage, I pity you.

Therefore, I am nailing to the door a few theses of my own.

1. An Anglican is fully Catholic by the standards of the Scriptures and the Patristic period.
2. Our orders have been preserved without defect, with all of the charisms and power Christ has granted through his apostles to his Church.
3. Our doctrine is better and more pure than that of Rome.
4. Newman was not all there, and his later criticism of Anglicanism is neither accurate nor wholly rational.
5. Newman's theory of Doctrinal Development is as dangerous as the Pentecostalist notion of "Progressive revelation."
6. The Pope is not infallible.
7. The Pope does not have Universal Jurisdiction.
8. The Pope is the bishop of Peter's See, but so is the Patriarch of Antioch.
9. The service of Holy Communion is a perfectly valid Mass or Eucharist.
10. Our Anglican fathers were not Calvinists or Lutherans.
11. "Protestant" is not the opposite of "Catholic."
12. Some Catholics are Protestant Catholics.
13. We do not need doctrines like "the merits of the saints" or a concept of Purgatory as "temporal punishment."
14. When the Articles say that "The Romish doctrine of Purgatory is a fond thing," this does not mean that we are supposed to be fond of it.
15. At the end of the day, if it is not in the Bible, it REALLY cannot be necessary for salvation.
16. Point 15 is classic Catholic teaching.
17. You should not care what the Roman See thinks of your status as a true church.

So, if you must swim the Tiber, do it quickly. Otherwise, learn to appreciate the wisdom of the Anglican Way.

Read the original blog entry and combox discussion at The Continuum, where Fr. Hart also dispenses some wisdom about the "Convert Syndrome" of the Nouveau Orthodoxe:

Be careful about assuming that these new Orthodox, especially modern Americans who have converted, speak for the Orthodox Church. Most of them know less about real Orthodoxy than they do about rocket science. If you want to know what the Orthodox Church has always taught in its Tradition, consult Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, or my brother, Dr. David Bentley Hart. Don't consult Frederica Matthews-Green (who is good on social issues like pro-life), Perry Robinson, or Frank Schaeffer. I could name a few others who have caused nothing but confusion and misinformation. This new version of Orthodoxy is not Orthodox (or orthodox even), just knee jerk anti-Western non-sense. About Anglican-Orthodox relations, some of them are guilty of outright historical revisionism, which is always a cute way of saying, dishonesty about the past.

The talks between the Orthodox Church (the real one, with its Patriarchates, following the lead of the Oecumenical Patriarch- the real one in Constantinople) broke down after 1976 only because of women's "ordination." This was stated clearly at the conference in 1984 that you can read about in "The Dublin Agreed Statement" of the same year. Archbishop Athenagoras lamented right then and there (and it is in the official record) the fact that the talks were no longer to be held with the goal of uniting Anglicanism and Orthodoxy into one Church, and that this new turn of events was due to that one error. Until 1976, the road was clear (I have addressed this before right here on The Continuum).

This breakdown over WO did not have the retroactive effect of canceling what had gone before (beginning in earnest in 1922), but was instead a response to a heretical innovation. Since the TAC is based on the Afffirmation of St. Louis, I hope they will look in both directions, Rome and Constantinople, to restore what was lost. The hindrance of Women's "Ordination" is not present in the Anglican Continuum. We have rejected the same error that caused the breakdown of solid talks with the Orthodox Church.

As for the new western-anti-western convert version of Orthodoxy, why waste time with those people? They do not speak for their Church, and they have yet to learn its doctrines and history.

Tuesday
Aug142012

The Relevance of the Historic Prayer Book to Evangelism

From Virtue Online:

In a Christian culture where historic worship and evangelistic zeal rarely seem to intersect, the Prayer Book Society leadership has made clear it is determined to rebuild the connection. On July 28th, All Saints' Church in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania the Executive Director of the Society, Fr. Jason Patterson, and the President, Fr. Gavin Dunbar, spoke about the nature of worship and the relevance of the historic Prayer Book to evangelism.

Before a group of laity and clergy from across the Anglican/Episcopalian spectrum, Fr. Patterson posed the question, "For what purpose do we gather for our Sunday Worship of God?" Many churches are only concerned with what an individual can get from worship. Fr. Patterson built a Biblical case that "worship is something we offer to God. It is for Him, not for us." This idea is foreign to the consumer mentality that has been embraced by the western Church. Noting that sacrifice is inherent to the Old and New Testament devotion of the people of God, Fr. Patterson encouraged the Church to recognize that worship will sometimes be uncomfortable particularly when the worshiper is himself a living sacrifice. Fr. Patterson noted that, by the grace of God, those that have properly ordered their worship toward God receive much in worship. But this is not the primary end of Biblical worship.

People instinctively worship. This drive is a part of divine imprint upon man. Yet because of sin, man's worship is misdirected. He is given to make idols out of most anything in the creation while neglecting the Creator. Therefore, fallen man must be "be taught both how and whom to worship." Consider Luke 11:1, where the disciples ask Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray..." Fr. Patterson argued that the Bible challenges popular conceptions that true worship must be a "genuine" or an "authentic expression of what one is feeling or experiencing." Fallen man, if left to himself, will have an authentically unbalanced and unbiblical approach to the worship of God. Worship must teach the wayward man to properly orient his life toward the Creator. Worship rightly ordered will challenge each individual, in different ways, to maintain essential elements or neglect innovations so as to offer a sacrifice that is truly please to God.

"I think," Fr. Patterson concluded, "that if we begin from the standpoint of distrusting ourselves (for we shall be inclined to worship wrongly), relying upon God the Holy Spirit as our teacher, and looking to the wisdom of the past we shall be well on our way to learning to worship God in spirit and in truth such that His name is glorified and He is pleased. As Anglicans we have a great treasure in the historic (i.e. 1662 in England, 1928 in the US and 1962 in Canada) Book of Common Prayer. It is not simply a collection of liturgical texts that we are to make use of as best suits our fancy. Rather, the BCP sets forth a system for Christian discipleship, discipline, parochial care, devotion and worship."

Fr. Dunbar's paper was a demonstration of the Biblical logic of Cranmer's Communion Service. Like Fr. Patterson, he spoke about the prevailing attitude that worship must conform to the culture in order to be evangelistically effective. This commitment has led many away from the church's tradition in favor of forms that resemble popular culture and commercial marketing strategies. Fr. Dunbar called this trend the "de-churching of the gospel." The apparent success of non-denominational mega-churches has function to validate this innovating approach for many evangelicals.

The Apostle Paul called Christians, however, to "be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Instead of being driven by the culture, the church brings its own culture to bear on this world. The culture of the church is embodied by its worship. Fr. Dunbar asserted that "worship transforms the way we think, act and live. Cultus changes culture... If your cultus is conformed to worldly culture, it will end up reinforcing worldly wisdom. It will produce more of the same, under some veneer of piety."

Because of this fact, the church's tradition or culture is not a dispensable vehicle for the salvation or enhancement of individuals. The church and her worship tradition are an aspect of salvation. From St. Cyprian (+258) to John Calvin (+1564) this truth has been affirmed by the ministers of the Gospel. "I do not mean to suggest," Fr. Dunbar clarified, "that liturgy itself is all that matters. Far from it: the church cannot do without evangelizing witness and teaching, the discipling of new Christians,[etc.] ; but such efforts will be in vain if in fact they do not begin and end in worship." For this reason, Fr. Dunbar encouraged Anglicans and Episcopalians to rediscover their classical Prayer Book heritage for the sake of the evangelism and change of the culture.

He outlined three aspects of Cranmer's liturgy which are vital to this end. 1) "The Prayer Book as worship of the Father - a liturgy that orients the Church not to the world but to the Father through the Sacrifice of the Son. 2) The Prayer Book as worship of the Word - both the Word that forms the Church, and the Church that bears the Word. 3) The Prayer Book as worship of the Spirit - the Spirit that directs the Church in its conversation to God, and the Church through which the Spirit works." Fr. Dunbar noted that the preparatory prayers of the Holy Communion, the Lord's Prayer and the Collect for Purity, direct the worshiper to the Father. The hallowing of the Father is the goal of worship and it is accomplished through the revelation of the Son and in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. "The church's worship is thus a divine work, God's knowing himself, and loving himself through the church." It is a "movement from God to God and through God."

The height of this movement is found in the remembrance of Christ's sacrificial offering through which man is enabled to offer up the sacrifice of praise. Fr. Dunbar noted that only the sacrificial language, which Cranmer employed, reconciles man with God. All other theories of Christ's work and the church's worship are concerned with either man in relationship to man or God in relationship to the Devil. When the Church faithfully represents Christ's sacrifice, it is united to His body and returns with the Son to the Father. The liturgy is the means by which the Church is "caught up in the life of the Trinity."

Second, Fr. Dunbar affirmed the centrality of the Word in Prayer Book worship. This liturgy was intended to lead Christians into conformity with the Word of God. Although many might be surprised, Cranmer's emphasis on the Word was an evidence of his conservative commitment to Church tradition. It was only in the late Middle Ages that the reading of major portions of Scripture was abbreviated. Cranmer was firm in his belief "that ecclesial tradition generated by... the Word of the Gospel, was necessary to the Church's evangelization of society." When he prescribed the Scripture readings for Holy Communion, he made only minor changes to the tradition which had developed and lasted from the sixth century. As such, Cranmer was giving tacit approval to the belief that the Word of God is rightly read and preached within the Church and her tradition. Fr. Dunbar summarized, "the primacy of Scripture over the Church does not abolish but... authorizes and empowers the Church, as 'the pillar and ground of the truth.' (1 Tim. 3:15)"

Fr. Dunbar concluded by insisting that, despite appearances, Prayer Book worship is a liturgy of the Spirit. The Communion Service begins by calling the Spirit down upon the Church to make it worthy to worship. Moreover, it is the Spirit that converts men through the process of repentance, faith and works of charity. Fr. Dunbar noted that Morning and Evening Prayer follow this pattern. Even more interesting was his demonstration of Cranmer's intent to carry the Church through this cycle three times in the Eucharistic service. In an ascending spiral, the Church is drawn up by the power of the Spirit to join Christ in heaven at the throne of grace. Fr. Dunbar likened it to Aslan calling the children "further up and further in" to the land that depicts the Kingdom of Heaven.

In both of these lectures, Anglicans, were called to recognize the power of the historic Prayer Book to call men into worship which is rightly direct to the glory of God and therefore abundantly relevant to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Far from being dispensable or a matter of preference, the Church's tradition of worship is necessary for the work of communicating the Gospel.


Deacon Jonathan Kell serves Holy Trinity Church, a parish of the Reformed Episcopal Church, in Fairfax Virginia. He was recently appointed to the board of the Prayer Book Society, USA. Dcn. Jonathan received a M.Div. from the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

Monday
Aug132012

Collect for the Tenth Sunday After Trinity

Saturday
Aug112012

How an Orthodox Christian Understands Her Salvation

"Are You Saved?"

Text of the narrative, by Molly Sabourin.  Emphases are mine:

I was originally saved over two thousand years ago when God the Son took on human flesh and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for all of mankind, defeating the power of sin by suffering on the Cross and destroying death through His miraculous Resurrection. I am being saved daily through my intentional decisions to follow Jesus’ example within each situation that I find myself, viewing paradise not as just a someday destination but as the everyday experience of self-denial, of being filled, through the Eucharist, obedience, and love for others, with Christ. I will, (Lord have mercy), be saved at the Great and final Judgement when I give an account for a lifetime of actions, when it becomes clear whether or not I cooperated with the grace so generously bestowed upon me. Who of us, having been blessed beyond all comprehension, should feel the need to insure that regardless of our choices a reward will be ours free and clear? Who of us dare to sit idle with our assurances, interpreting the conditions of the Bridegroom’s invitation while our lamps for illumining the darkness run out of oil?

My individual salvation is being worked out with fear and trembling through the unique responsibilities God deemed best to set before me. Based upon the model of the publican who beat his breast and begged for leniency, I am careful to not assume I have a handle on the spiritual state of others. I would do best, rather, to stay focused on my own flagrant shortcomings, reverencing both friends and enemies, all of whom were created in God’s image, as living icons of Christ Jesus. I share my faith, yes, but not out of obligation; a soul that’s found its meaning cannot help but be a witness to such joy. My ongoing testimony is presented through acts of service, in accordance with Christ’s commandment to love God by loving your neighbor. I pray ceaselessly for the courage to fight the good fight, staying faithful until my very last breath upon this earth.

Now, this statement is illustrative because of both what it says and what it doesn't say.  Let's start with the latter.  Aside from a vague reference at the beginning of the narrative about how the incarnation and ministry of Christ conquered sin and death, there is absolutely no mention of the operative and cooperative grace of God, which is a huge theme in the New Testament, as well as in later Augustinian theology.  The New Testament in many places affirms that salvation does not come from self-exertion, but from the grace of God alone.  That is to say, even man's decision to accept Christ and remain in Him comes about only by the grace of God.  I'll not cite all the numerous verses here.  Anyone familiar with the New Testament knows what I'm talking about.   But I will quote one, since it's one to which Mrs. Sabourin alludes in her narrative, quite out of context: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:11-12)

For Mrs. Sabourin and all too many of her fellow Orthodox Christians, however, salvation is a matter of self-exertion, as the bolded emphases in her narrative indicate.  In typical Orthodox fashion it's loud on theosis but virtually silent on atonement.  And that point is driven home by the statement  that there is no assurance that anyone will be ultimately saved:  "Who of us, having been blessed beyond all comprehension, should feel the need to insure that regardless of our choices a reward will be ours free and clear? Who of us dare to sit idle with our assurances, interpreting the conditions of the Bridegroom’s invitation while our lamps for illumining the darkness run out of oil?"  Of course, setting aside the caricature that assurance = antinomianism, the denial of assurance is something we encounter from all Semipelagian and Arminian types, whether they be Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican or Protestant.  But once again, this flies in the face of significant portions of Holy Writ that tell us we can rejoice in the assurance that what God began in us, He will bring to completion.

None of this implies antinomianism; we do make real choices and the New Testament does employ the language of contingency in certain passages that pertain to salvation.  But these data should be viewed alongside of the predestinarian data, and the whole soteriological framework presented in the New Testament should be looked at as an example of compatibilism

There is no compatibilism in Orthodox thinking, however.   At the end of the day, despite the almost grudging lip service Orthodoxy theology gives to the necessity of grace, it's all about human willpower.  No wonder Mrs. Sabourin isn't very sanguine about assurance.  Man, left to himself and his "free will", which on the basis of empirical observation turns out to be not very free at all, doesn't have the greatest of prospects.  "Staying faithful until my very last breath upon this earth."  Or not, as the case may be.

Friday
Jul202012

That’s Enough Flannel About Women Bishops

Though the author of this piece is Roman Catholic and therefore, as she says, doesn't believe in the validity of Anglican orders, I just had to quote her.  It is a delighfully wry comment on the feminists and infidels in the Church of England:

The Church of England has agonised for 12 years about whether to ordain women as bishops and at last has come to a decision, viz, to put the whole thing off until November. Or possibly February, so the new Archbishop of Canterbury can get to grips with the question. (And you wonder why there aren’t any outstanding candidates?)

The proponents of women bishops, you see, are hugely exercised by the opt-out clause in the deal. That allows opponents of women’s ordination to call on bishops for their parishes who are not only male but have been ordained by men.

There aren’t many of these parishes: think very camp Anglo-Catholics, or evangelicals with strong views about women ordering men about. But these harmless dissidents are enough for the would-be women bishops to refuse to play. Nope. If they’re not going to be ordained on their own terms, they won’t be ordained at all. There are so many occasions when life calls out for Trollope, and this is one of them.

I’ve got no business, myself, getting involved, given that I’m a Catholic and we don’t actually believe that any of them are properly ordained. But I do get a bit restive when I hear the likes of the Rev Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, one of the many media-friendly female clerics, declaring that “the whole point of having women bishops was to say that the Church of England believes that women and men are equal and made in the image of God. I do not want it enshrined in law that we officially do not believe that.” Hang on there. Our lot don’t have women bishops either but I’ve never had any problems on being made in the image of God, thanks all the same, Miranda.

The whole thing is preposterous, and not just for unbelievers who can’t quite get their heads around the notion that this is being debated at all. The point of the C of E is that it’s recklessly inclusive, a national church that seems incapable of turning anyone away. You can have ordained Anglican clergy who believe that God was made man and born of a virgin and those who can’t quite buy the Virgin Birth. You can have bishops who believe in the Resurrection and those who believe it is true in a very real sense, ie, not at all.

I would have said once that the only thing that actually unites the Anglican communion is a belief in God but that was before the Right Rev Richard Holloway came along, the former primus of the tiny Scottish Episcopal Church, who couldn’t make his mind up about it.

And with this extraordinary latitude on the things that actually count, the one thing they’re going to make a stand on is women bishops? Christ.

Monday
Jul162012

The Lords Prayer in Old English from the 11th Century

A right mystical and very well done video about the prayer Our Lord taught us to pray, in medieval Anglo-Saxon:

Sunday
Jul152012

James K.A. Smith: Tradition For Innovation

"We cannot hope to restore the world if we are constantly reinventing the church, says a Calvin College philosophy professor."

Read the article here.  a couple of snippets:

Evangelicalism in North America today is a vibrant and lively affair, abuzz with innovation and activity. Across the United States and Canada, evangelicals are stepping forward as never before to help restore a broken world.

At the same time, in keeping with their historic entrepreneurial spirit, evangelicals are constantly creating and spinning off new and different ways of doing church.

Often overlapping, these two trends at first glance might seem to emerge from the same innovative spirit, two complementary and intertwined developments, working together for the good of the church.

In fact, however, these are not complementary trends but competing trajectories, at odds with one another. However unintended it might be, the latter works inevitably to undermine the former. In short, we cannot hope to restore the world if we are constantly reinventing the church; the hard work of innovation requires grounding in a tradition. . . .

If the church is going to send out “restorers” who engage culture for the common good, we need to recover and remember the rich imaginative practices of historic Christian worship that carry the unique story of the gospel.

Consider just a few of the many ways in which the liturgical tradition nurtures and replenishes the imagination: 

• Kneeling in confession and voicing “the things we have done and the things we have left undone …” tangibly and viscerally impresses upon us the brokenness of our world and humbles our own pretensions;

• Pledging allegiance in the Creed is a political act -- a reminder that we are citizens of a coming kingdom, curtailing our temptation to overidentify with any configuration of the earthly city;

• The rite of baptism, where the congregation vows to help raise a child alongside the parents, is just the liturgical formation we need to be a people who can support those raising children with intellectual disabilities or other special needs;

• Sitting at the Lord’s Table with the risen King, where all are invited to eat, is a tactile reminder of the just, abundant world that God longs for.

In these and countless other ways, the liturgical tradition orients our imagination to kingdom come, priming us for the innovative, restorative work of culture making. In order to foster a Christian imagination, we don’t need to invent; we need to remember.

Of course, whether or not our culture can be "restored" remains to be seen.  I for one am skeptical, and hold more to the notion that we are to hunker down and await the "New Benedict":

It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead -- often not recognizing fully what they were doing -- was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another -- doubtless very different -- St. Benedict.  (Alasdair MacIntyre)

A related issue is this:  will Evangelicals ever come to a sense of realism about their overall importance in the big scheme of things, and learn to bow to Tradition?  I expect this sort of response from the "redeem-the-culture" Evangelicals who might agree with Smith's argument:  "Yeah.  Liturgy.  Great idea.  Let's create one."

Tuesday
Jul102012

The Elizabethan Settlement and the Catholicity of Anglicanism

Over at The Anglican Diaspora recently, several forum members discussed the merits of the Elizabethan Settlement.  One member there who posts under the handle of "manciple" wrote the following:

Given that this English form of Christianity has now become globalized, even spreading to places which were never part of the British Empire, I would suggest that the Elizabethan Settlement may have been more successful than anyone in the 16th century could possibly have envisaged.

Even as late as the 19th century it was argued that the C. of E. shouldn't send out missionaries as Anglicanism couldn't possibly take root outside of England.

I have to say I agree. While on one level the Anglican Church is a “national” and even “ethnic” church much like the Orthodox churches, the Anglican Church continued to be, even after its reforms, the Church Catholic, and as the Church Catholic not simply the property of Englishmen.  The argument of the English Reformers (and of Good Queen Bess herself) was that the Reformed Catholic Church of England was simply the old Catholic Church of the Church Fathers, shorn of many of its unbiblical medieval accretions.  What we believe as Anglicans can be believed, and is believed, by Africans, Indians, Latin Americans and other non-white folks. What we believe is simply the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith without Roman hegemony or Orthodox parochialism. But with the Orthodox and against Rome, however, we believe, as I’ve said, that the Catholic faith is incarnated ecclesially as specific national churches, and so there is a sense in which the original Anglican church is the native church of the Anglo-Saxon peoples and the British Empire. And yet there is another sense in which "Anglican" has nothing to do with Englishness, and that is the fact that it is merely the Catholic, which is to say the universal, faith.

Monday
Jul092012

One Man Anglican Militia

Here's a blog entry from Fr. John at Anglican Catholic Priest about a young man who stands guard with his .308 AK-style underfolder outside of an Anglican Catholic Church mission in the Diocese of Lahore.  Here (from a recent issue of the Trinitarian, the ACC's official newspaper) the Rt. Rev. Brian Iverach, Episcopal Visitor to the Diocese of Lahore, salutes another person apparently holding the same weapon who stands guard there at the same mission church. 

I'm always happy to see such manifestations of "Muscular Christianity", especially in the face of Islamic oppression.  I am neither a pacifist nor a believer in dispensational otherworldliness, both of which have no room in their thinking for Christian resistance.  The struggle in Lahore, like in other places around the world, is simply a continuation of the war started by Muslim imperialists back in the 7th century, to which the Crusades were but a defensive response

May God bless that little Anglican church in Pakistan, as well as the church everywhere in the Islamic world.   And God bless our missionaries there.

Monday
Jul092012

The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23) - Chant: C.H. Stewart

Tuesday
Jul032012

Anglican Chant: Psalm 104:1-23 from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer 

By the Bramdean School Chapel Choir, courtesy of Dr. Westbury's YouTube channel:

Psalm 104. Benedic, anima mea

PRAISE the Lord, O my soul : O Lord my God, thou art become exceeding glorious; thou art clothed with majesty and honour.
2. Thou deckest thyself with light as it were with a garment : and spreadest out the heavens like a curtain.
3. Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters : and maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind.
4. He maketh his angels spirits : and his ministers a flaming fire.
5. He laid the foundations of the earth : that it never should move at any time.
6. Thou coveredst it with the deep like as with a garment : the waters stand in the hills.
7. At thy rebuke they flee : at the voice of thy thunder they are afraid.
8. They go up as high as the hills, and down to the valleys beneath : even unto the place which thou hast appointed for them.
9. Thou hast set them their bounds which they shall not pass : neither turn again to cover the earth.
10. He sendeth the springs into the rivers : which run among the hills.
11. All beasts of the field drink thereof : and the wild asses quench their thirst.
12. Beside them shall the fowls of the air have their habitation : and sing among the branches.
13. He watereth the hills from above : the earth is filled with the fruit of thy works.
14. He bringeth forth grass for the cattle : and green herb for the service of men;
15. That he may bring food out of the earth, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man : and oil to make him a cheerful countenance, and bread to strengthen man's heart.
16. The trees of the Lord also are full of sap : even the cedars of Libanus which he hath planted;
17. Wherein the birds make their nests : and the fir-trees are a dwelling for the stork.
18. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats : and so are the stony rocks for the conies.
19. He appointed the moon for certain seasons : and the sun knoweth his going down.
20. Thou makest darkness that it may be night : wherein all the beasts of the forest do move.
21. The lions roaring after their prey : do seek their meat from God.
22. The sun ariseth, and they get them away together : and lay them down in their dens.
23. Man goeth forth to his work, and to his labour : until the evening.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.