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

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

FIFNA Bishops Stand Firm Against Ordination of Women

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

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Homo Hierarchicus and Ecclesial Order, Brian Horne

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

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Liturgy and Interchangeable Sexes, Peter J. Leithart

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

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Priestesses in the Church?, C.S. Lewis

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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

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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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Friday
Jun082012

For Evangelicals and Others Considering Eastern Orthodoxy

9/28/14 Update:  See my comments about Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy here.

___________________________________________________

A sizable number of Evangelicals who, having come to the same conclusions as did Fr. Doug (see entry below, How I Got There: An Evangelical Converts to Anglicanism), have opted to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy rather than to Roman Catholicism or Traditional Anglicanism.  One can read the literature produced by converts for the standard panegyric about how these Evangelicals "came home" to "the ancient Christian church".  Your blogger the Embryo Parson was one of them.  I spent approximately 13 years in the Orthodox Church, and I can assure you that most of these folks were smitten with romantic notions about the Orthodox Church church that bear little relation to reality.  I could go into great detail about why I left, but I will confine myself here to four principal reasons. 

1.  Creeping liberalism.  Here is an account from a Lutheran blog that refers to an article written by Orthodox academic and priest Gregory Jensen, who frankly admits the problem:

According to Fr Gregory Jensen, an academic and priest of the 'Orthodox Church in America' (the denomination with Russian immigrant origins that former Lutheran scholar Jaroslav Pelikan joined) Eastern Orthodoxy in North America on the ground - as opposed to how it appears from behind the rose-coloured spectacles of prospective Protestant converts - is rapidly becoming as liberal as the Protestant mainline churches many of those converts are fleeing. So much so that he says the Orthodox Church in all its ethnic branches in the US looks increasingly like 'the Eastern-Rite Mainline'.*

How so? Support for abortion and gay marriage runs disturbingly high among the laity, politicians of Orthodox background publicly support positions which stand in stark contradiction to the Church's moral teaching and priests are 'not effectively communicating the [Christian] moral tradition', thus surrendering the laity to the forces of secularisation and cultural barbarism. Not to mention, and Fr Gregory doesn't, but anyone who keeps a 'weather eye' on the Orthodox Church will know, that the various sexual and financial scandals among the Orthodox hierarchy in the US have clearly demoralised many of the devout clergy and laity.**

Part of the solution, Fr Gregory avers, is for the Orthodox in the West to draw upon the riches of the Western Christian tradition, specifically the Catholic tradition's 'partnership of faith and reason, natural law, and the objective and universal character of Christian morality'. I think he's an insightful and brave man for saying this, because most articulate Orthodox - especially Western converts - that I have come across have a strong animus against the Christian West, with Augustine being their favourite whipping boy. In their eyes the great North African Father is to blame not only for Roman Catholicism but also, by way of reaction, for Luther and hence 'Protestantism' (and in speaking about 'Protestantism' the Orthodox tend to make no distinction between a snake-handling Pentecostal and a confessional Lutheran, thereby only displaying their ignorance of the heritage of the Christian West after the Reformation). But, surely, without a sympathetic Orthodox engagement with Augustine - and indeed with Luther - there is unlikely to be any significant rapprochement between Orthodoxy and the Christian West beyond the usual glad-handing at ecumenical gatherings.

I would also respectfully suggest to Fr Gregory that he not overlook what can be learned from the experience of those confessional churches of the Reformation which have taken a different path from their liberal Protestant cousins. A big part of Orthodoxy's problems, in my view, stem from the reality that it is not actually a 'confessional' church, but a 'big tent' church. The question for Orthodoxy now is just how big is its tent, given that they now have their own vocal and prominent proponents for recognition of the right to abortion, women's ordination and even revision of the church's teaching on homosexuality?

Finally, I think we are witnessing yet another confirmation of Dr Sasse's prescient observation of 50 or so years ago that in the modern world all the great Christian communions will face the same theological problems, without exception. The obvious moral for small 'o' orthodox Western Christians in all of this - especially Lutherans - who might think that Constantinople offers a safe haven from the destructive winds of modernism that have wrought such havoc in our own churches, is to look before you leap into the Bosphorus.

Fr Jensen's reflection can be found here

4-14-2017 UPDATE:  See my post Another Orthodox Insider Writes of the Threat to the Orthodox Church from Within.

Ergo, the Orthodox Church is slowly but surely beginning to experiencing a process of liberalization, what I call "Episcopalianization", though it is happily well behind the Episcopalianization of the Church of Rome and especially the Anglican Communion in this regard. Slowly but surely it is aping the liberal Protestant "mainline."  Though it is still very conservative theologically, there is much turmoil beneath the surface that is associated with the activity of liberals, and the Evangelical convert can't miss it.  I certainly didn't.  (More from Fr. Jensen.  See also Gene Veith's article Changes In The Orthodox Church.)

2.  Virulent anti-Western mentality.  The Orthodox are openly hostile to just about everything Western.  Any Evangelical or Roman Catholic who hopes to retain something of the Western theological framework in which he learned about his faith will be quickly disappointed in that hope if he enters the Orthodox Church.  David B. Hart, an Orthodox theologian and brother of our own Anglican Catholic priest Fr. Robert Hart, says this about it:

The most damaging consequence . . .  of Orthodoxy’s twentieth-century pilgrimage ad fontes—and this is no small irony, given the ecumenical possibilities that opened up all along the way—has been an increase in the intensity of Eastern theology’s anti-Western polemic. Or, rather, an increase in the confidence with which such polemic is uttered. Nor is this only a problem for ecumenism: the anti-Western passion (or, frankly, paranoia) of Lossky and his followers has on occasion led to rather severe distortions of Eastern theology. More to the point here, though, it has made intelligent interpretations of Western Christian theology (which are so very necessary) apparently almost impossible for Orthodox thinkers. Neo-patristic Orthodox scholarship has usually gone hand in hand with some of the most excruciatingly inaccurate treatments of Western theologians that one could imagine—which, quite apart form the harm they do to the collective acuity of Orthodox Christians, can become a source of considerable embarrassment when they fall into the hands of Western scholars who actually know something of the figures that Orthodox scholars choose to caluminiate. When one repairs to modern Orthodox texts, one is almost certain to encounter some wild mischaracterization of one or another Western author; and four figures enjoy a special eminence in Orthodox polemics: Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and John of the Cross.

3.  Essentially Eastern European.  The Orthodox Churches tend to be Eastern European or Middle Eastern cultural outposts.  While they welcome converts from Western countries, the latter never really quite fit in.  One person commenting over at the Stumble Inn writes:

Eastern Orthodoxy is a gigantic Eastern culture club. They have a saying for a sort of mania new converts (of the generic Anglo/Celtic/German-American variety) get - Convertitis. Basically it's marked by a) aggressive appropriation of your parish's ethnic culture, b) rabid defense of your theology. The second one is just the excitement of finding something you believe to be true - it's an altruistic sort of joy with unintended negative consequences that go away over time.

The first one is a survival/assimilation technique that is pretty much necessary when one finds himself surrounded by Russians, or Greeks, or Arabs... Bulgarians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Serbians, Georgians, Albanians and 20 different varieties of each. There's nothing else. If you walk into an Orthodox church as an old stock American, you simply don't belong there. You're out of your league. You have to make yourself belong - and it's difficult.

If not impossible.

What's more, the potential convert to Eastern Orthodoxy who leans Western should not place much hope in the Orthodox Western Rite, which was created only fairly recently in the hopes of snagging Anglicans in the Anglican Communion and Roman Catholics who are thinking about leaving their respective communions over the liberalism, modernism, etc. infecting those bodies.  There is intense hostility from "world Orthodoxy" toward the handful of Western Rite parishes that have been established in the West, rendering the future of their Western liturgies questionable.  Orthodox author Fr. John Morris admitted as much to me in a combox discussion at the Anglican news and discussion site Virtue Online:

Whether or not the Western Rite has a future within Orthodoxy is a matter of the will of God. If it is God’s will that the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church grow and prosper, it will grow and prosper. The Western Rite is an effort to restore something that was lost through the Romanization and subsequent Protestantism of the Church in England. . . .

Since the vast majority of Orthodox follow the Byzantine Rite, it is to be expected that many find the Western Rite difficult to accept. I believe that is a good thing, because it shows that Orthodox Christians take their beliefs seriously and do not want anything to compromise those beliefs. More than anything else Orthodox define and express their Faith through their worship. Even a person who has no theological education cannot accept worship that does not feel right. I consider that good because this more than anything else preserves the integrity of our Church. It is also a testimony that Orthodox believe that it is essential to reject anything that compromises our beliefs.

Underlying your argument seems to be the idea that the Byzantine Rite is too foreign for Americans. That is an idea that I must reject. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is universal and rises above ethnic considerations. It is a perfect expression of the Orthodox Faith. I and thousands of Americans have found a home within the Byzantine Rite. When I stand before the Holy Table and pray the prayers of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, I feel the power of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, I reject the argument that the Byzantine Rite is too foreign for Americans.

Fr. John went on in that discussion to say why he supports the Western Rite, something he is expected to do as a priest of the Antiochian jurisdiction, which is the main Orthodox jurisdiction of two or three that have allowed the Western rite, but his qualifying remarks are all too clear:  1) whether or not the Western Rite survives in the Orthodox Church "is a matter of the will of God" (not to mention the will of a sea of hostile Orthodox bishops); and 2) any convert to Orthodoxy ought to be able to accept the Byzantine Rite: "It is a perfect expression of the Orthodox Faith", unlike the Western Rite, which as Fr. John says in the discussion only " preserves the best of Anglicanism" and is merely "an effort to restore something that was lost through the Romanization and subsequent Protestantism of the Church in England."  Talk about damning with faint praise.  So, Evangelicals and Catholics thinking about converting to Orthodoxy because a Western Rite exists for them ought to understand the big picture.  I once had a long conversation with a priest who is one of the principals in American Western Rite Orthodoxy.  He was very worried about its future.  The Orthodox are cultural Easterners and consequently they tend to disparage almost everything Western, including Western liturgies.

4.  Soteriological weaknesses.  While we should certainly be grateful to the Greek Church Fathers for the triadology and christology that became the basis of the Creed, they were not so orthodox when it came to an issue that would come to bear upon the question of soteriology, or salvation:

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.)

This sub-biblical notion of free will would later inform the heresies of Pelagianism and Semipelagianism, and would also result in a soteriology in the East that would put a greater stress on theosis - sanctification - than on the atonement, that is on what we do subjectively to accomplish our salvation than on what God has done objectively to accomplish it.  Accordingly, Orthodox theology is deficient in its understanding of just how the atonement relates to sanctification.  One need only listen to the narrative of this video to see an example of the man-centered nature of theosis.  Note the repeated use of "I", "me" and "my".  I call this the "Little-Christian-Who-Could" model.   There is nothing in this video about what God did to effect man's salvation, aside from a brief and vague reference to the destruction of sin and death at the beginning of the narrative. 

Because the Orthodox reject the Augustinian view of original sin, and by implication the Pauline teaching on the inability of man to save himself, and because the Orthodox still labor under pagan notions about "free will", their soteriology suffers.  Frs. Hart and Wells discuss this deficiency at the Continuum, here and here.

Evangelicals are Westerners (and Pauline-Augustinians generally speaking), and **if** they come to a point where they believe they simply must be Catholics, then the Western Catholic tradition is where they'll more naturally fit in.  That essentially means Rome or Anglo-Catholicism.  I say "**if**".  Evangelicals who really can't quite give up the Evangelical ethos have no business considering Orthodoxy, because at the end of the day Orthodoxy has no room for Evangelicalsim.  If you're an Evangelical who continues to believe that Luther was essentially right about justification, the primacy of Scripture, etc., but are drawn to the historic church and its liturgical worship, then your true options are basically traditional Anglicanism or traditional Lutheranism. 

Now, I've said some rather strong things here about the Orthodox Church, so let me try to end on a more conciliatory note.  Despite my criticisms, I have nothing but fondness for the many people I left behind in the Orthodox Church.  Many of them are exemplary Christians, and what they lack in their willingness to accommodate fully to Western culture they make up for in their devotion to kith and kin, something that puts many of us individualist Americans to shame.  When I once mentioned this to the Greek-American husband of my wife's sponsor, he responded sadly, "Yes, that is your loss."  He simply couldn't imagine the atomism that marked my family and so many others here in North America.

Secondly, Orthodox spirituality takes sanctification seriously.  While my prayer is that the Orthodox Church will revisit its views about the atonement, free will and grace, I can only commend them for their highly developed theology of the Holy Spirit and theosis, which we here in the West do not fully appreciate.

And of course, who can find fault with Orthodoxy's thrice-gorgeous Eastern rite?  If you've never attended the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in an Orthodox Church, I strongly encourage you to do so.  (Just please don't convert because of liturgical aestheticism. ;)  )  Furthermore, aside from the fact that the Creed's triadology reflects the theology of great Eastern Church Fathers such as St. Athanasius and the Cappadocians, Orthodox scholarship has contributed much that is of value in the areas of ecclesiology, sacramentology and ascetic theology.

It is my great hope that Orthodoxy will stave off the threat of liberalism in its midst and will experience a change of heart and mind about the West, taking seriously what Orthodox thinkers such as David Hart have written on the matter.  Most importantly, it is my hope that the Orthodox Church, as it re-examines its assessment of the West, will begin to think more carefully about the nature of the atonement and the biblical doctrines of grace, for these are key.

(See related discussion here and especially the linked Virtue Online article.  The combox discussion there between Orthodox apologist Fr. John Morris, myself, and others is worthy of note.)

Click here for the entire OJC archive on Eastern Orthodoxy.

Thursday
Jun072012

How I Got There: An Evangelical Converts to Anglicanism

By Fr. Doug:

Part I

It’s been said that a paradigm shift occurs for one of three reasons: 1) a crisis situation; 2) an influential individual; or, 3) an overload of information. When I became an Anglican, all three of these influenced my decision.

In 1989 I graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM) and became the pastor of a Bible Church in North Dallas. At that time, I knew nothing of Phillip Schaff and his subtle diagnosis of American Protestantism.

"Tendencies, which had found no political room to unfold themselves in other lands, wrought here without restraint. Every theological vagabond and peddler may drive here his bungling trade, without passport or license, and sell his false ware at pleasure. What is to come of such confusion is not now to be seen (The Principle of Protestantism, Phillip Schaff, 1844)."

One hundred-forty-five years after Schaff penned those prescient lines, I not only saw what he predicted, I experienced it. When I entered the pastorate my priorities were to teach God’s Word and to shepherd God’s people, but the congregation that called me was a loose confederacy with no system of doctrine to galvanize it. In addition, its growing number of programs demanded an administrator, not a preacher.

During this pensive season, I lingered over the Protestant visage. I read her magazines and journals. I listened to her music. I watched her television programs. I wasn’t a participant, but a curious observer.

What I witnessed still baffles me. Her children lumbered to Weigh Down and bought t-shirts emblazoned with, "Food Cannot Meet My Needs." They loaded onto busses and headed to Promise Keepers where they cried and vowed to burn their Swim Suit edition of Sports Illustrated. Then they spent the night on the sidewalk to be the first in line to purchase The Prayer of Jabez, a book that promised to change their lives.

From where I was standing, much of the Protestant Church looked like a lab rat in a maze, frenetically searching for the next, new experience. Its appetite was insatiable. Nothing satisfied. Nothing lasted. Nothing remained the same. It couldn’t remain the same, or its children would get bored and boredom was a sin.

I was on a journey, and the Protestant path had led me to a wasteland where God was trivialized and His Church was marginalized. I remember writing in my journal, struggling to describe the shift that was taking place inside of me. From the walls of my study, the ink portraits of Hodge, Calvin, and Edwards watched quietly.

But they had no answers.

My heart was hungry for something more than barren sanctuaries, long lectures, and prayers during worship that were made up on the spot and for the most part were bereft of serious forethought, Scripture and theology.

A. W. Tozer, a respected Evangelical of the earlier part of this century wrote the following. "We of the non-liturgical churches tend to look with disdain upon those churches that follow a carefully prescribed form of service . . . The liturgical service is at least beautiful; ours is often ugly. Theirs has been carefully worked out through the centuries to capture as much of the beauty as possible and to preserve a spirit of reverence among worshipers. Ours is often an off-the-cuff makeshift with nothing to recommend it. In the majority of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear." (God Tells the Man That Cares, A.W. Tozer)

And this is what my heart craved - the solemnity, stillness and wonder described by Tozer. I was searching for serious worship and a sacramental life that would immerse me in the life of the Holy Trinity.

It was during this period that I asked myself, "Is my faith something I invented? Or, is it the faith of the prophets, the apostles, the Early Church Fathers and the martyrs? How can I know?"

It dawned on me that I was sitting in judgment of the historic Church. I had annointed myself the final arbiter of what was orthodox doctrine and worship. I alone had decided what I would believe and how I would worship. I was shocked to find that I looked a whole lot like the folks I had been watching!

In 1990 my children were baptized and my family became Anglican.

Part II

After last week’s post, I received an email from a friend, who wanted to know why I converted to Anglicanism. He pointed out that my post didn’t explain my reasons for ambling down the Canterbury Trail. Here is an edited copy of my response to him. Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Dear ______________:

Thank you for your response to last week’s blog post, “How I got Here from There: My Conversion to Anglicanism.” Your queries caused me to pause and ponder again the beauty of Anglicanism and how God drew me to her. You didn’t ask for a lengthy explanation like this. In fact, you asked to visit over coffee, or scotch – an offer I still plan to take you up on.

I wrote this for two reasons. First, I wanted to revisit and savor what happened to me 20 years ago. Second, I’m a firm believer in writing’s ability to sharpen wooly headed thinking.

You mentioned in your email that twenty years ago there was a mass migration from what you call “Word based” worship into more reverent, sacramental worship. You are spot on. Robert Webber chronicles this exodus in his book, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail. In Evangelical is not Enough, author Thomas Howard articulates why these people left. As best as I can tell, their departure wasn’t an emotional reaction brought on by an unbridled desire for aesthetics. Instead, these people wanted worship that conformed to the heavenly pattern of Revelation 5-7.

In your email you asked why I became an Anglican. I may have unintentionally mislead you in my original blog post by intimating that irreverent worship was the reason I left my roots. In fact, that is not true. My reasons for converting to Anglicanism were many.

In the early 90’s I was looking for a church that valued the Scriptures. I found it. Anglicans read (present tense) from the Old Testament, New Testament and Psalter each day during Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Its Lord’s Day worship includes lengthy readings from the Prophets, the Psalter, the Epistles, and the Gospels.

A perusal of the 1662 and 1928 editions of the Book of Common Prayer reveals that the Scriptures are woven into the warp and woof of every service and office. It’s been estimated that upwards to 75% of the Prayer Book is either a direct quote or accurate summary of Scripture.

During worship, Anglicans pray the Word, chant the Word, hear the Word, and eat the Word. In short, Anglican worship is saturated with the Word.

So, this is the first reason I’m an Anglican and not a Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Presbyterian. In my estimation, Anglicanism is unsurpassed in its appreciation of Scripture.

A second reason I converted to Anglicanism is that the Anglican ethos is pastoral. Now, that’s more than a mere slogan. It’s a truth that springs from the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

When you have a moment, read through the Articles of Religion. You’ll notice that they take up a few pages at the back of the Prayer Book. There’s a good reason for this. The Articles of Religion outline the Christian faith in broad brush strokes, so as to create a sheepfold for all who believe the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments.

You’ll also find that the Thirty-Nine Articles sound as if they were written by a pastor. In fact, Article XVII was penned with a genuine concern for how people might respond to the doctrine of election. Also, couched within the Article is a pastoral admonition regarding an improper preoccupation with the doctrine of predestination.

All of that to say this - I gravitated toward Anglicanism because of its pastoral ethos, its culture of incarnational theology that vivifies truth in worship and ministry. The Ordinal of the Book of Common Prayer (1549) further illustrates this. In the past Anglican parishes were often called “Cures,” and priests were referred to as “Physicians,” who administered the “Medicine of Immortality.” Hence, when a priest was ordained, the Bishop said:

Have in remembrance into how high a dignity and to how weighty an office and charge ye are called: that is to say, to be the messenger, the watchmen, the pastor and the steward of the Lord; to teach, and to premonish, to feed and provide for His children in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ forever. . .

See that you never cease your labour, your care and diligence, until you have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among you, either for error, or viciousness of life.

Mark the incarnational and relational images. The priest is a father and the parishioners are his children. He is responsible for raising and nuturing them.

The poet-priest, George Herbert wrote the following about the pastoral culture of Anglicanism. “The country parson is not only a Father to his flock, but also professeth himself thoroughly of the opinion, carrying it about with him as fully as if he had begot his whole parish. For by this means, when any sins, he hateth him not as an officer, but pities him as a Father.”

Another reason I became an Anglican is that my study of the Scriptures and Church history convinced me that both the Word and the Sacraments are vital to worship. So, in my estimation, it’s ill advised to bifurcate between the two. It has been my experience that when false distinctions like that are made, pastors become imbalanced and to do things like preach 87 messages on John 3:16 and to spend three years expounding the Ten Commandments. It seems to me, that kind of lopsidedness feeds the Gnostic idea that worship is primarily mental. When I jumped off the Protestant ship, I was searching for worship that encompassed both the physical and the mental, the Word and Sacrament, the kind of worship found in the Book of Common Prayer.

My reasons for converting to Anglicanism are almost too numerous to number. I suppose I could cite five or six more critical issues that prompted my conversion, including Anglicanism’s historic episcopacy, and its time-tested model of spiritual formation.

I trust this note has answered your questions.

Regards,

Fr. Doug

Wednesday
Jun062012

Anglicanism: Its Past and Promise

by The Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum, Rector, Truro Church

Luther was once asked how he started the Reformation. In his characteristic florid style, Luther replied, “I did not start the reformation. All I did was preach the word of God and drink beer. The Word of God did the reforming.”

Similarly, Dr. Otto Piper of Princeton Seminary once admonished his students in this way:

We make a mistake when we think that Luther and Calvin produced the Reformation. What produced the Reformation was that Luther studied the Word of God. And as he studied it, it began to explode in him. And when it began to explode inside him he did not know any better than to let it loose on Germany. The same was true of Calvin. The tragedy of the Reformation was that when Luther and Calvin died, Melanchthon and Beza edited their works. And so all the Lutherans began to read the Bible to find Luther and all the Calvinists read the Bible to find Calvin. And the great corruption was on its way. Do you know there is enough undiscovered truth in the Bible to produce a Reformation and evangelical Awakening in every generation, if we only expose ourselves to it until it explodes in us and we let it loose?

Anglicanism shares in this larger movement of reform. It began as an indigenous reform movement of the 15th and 16th centuries that was let loose by Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer, but was co-opted by a politically opportunistic King (something, of course, that never happens in our age!).

Despite this checkered beginning, Anglicanism remains a reform movement within the larger body of Western Christendom. In subsequent centuries it has spawned smaller reform movements such as the Wesleyan revival in the 18th century, the Oxford movement in the 19th century and most recently the Alpha movement in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Each of these Anglican renewal movements has three defining doctrinal emphases, which together constitute the full power of Christian salvation: original sin (everyone needs a Savior, not just a coach), justifying grace (such a Savior and His salvation has been given to us without our merit) and sanctifying grace (the salvation that is offered to us is transformational, not merely transactional. That is, it must be personally and continually appropriated). The surface differences between Methodism, the Oxford movement and Alpha should not obscure this shared Anglican doctrinal DNA.

Like the other Protestant reformers, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, was a Catholic who yearned to see the Medieval Church reformed according to these three-fold emphases. The Church of England, like the Reformation churches in Europe, was simply an attempt to re-Christianize Christendom by reintroducing to the Church the full power of Christian salvation.

The reformer’s goal was making new Christians, not Cranmerians nor even Lutherans or Calvinists. Where the various Reformation Churches differed was in the strategy and tactics they employed to achieve this common goal of re-Christianization.

Somewhere else, I have explained the relationship between Anglicanism and the Reformation Churches:

Anglicanism was an indigenous reform movement which shared many features of the Continental reformation: gospel liberty, biblical literacy and ecclesiastical downsizing. At its early stages, the reform was a synthesis of Erasmus’ strategy of learning and Bucer’s concern for parish-based discipline, both of which were grafted onto Luther’s rediscovery of justification by faith as the root transaction between God and humans. This discovery of Luther was due, in part, to his rediscovery of Augustine’s doctrine of grace…A variety of scholars were stimulated to a new perception of Augustine by the first scholarly printed edition of his work which began to appear in the late 15th century. The impact of this discovery cannot be overemphasized.

This common patrimony in Augustine is an essential part of our Church’s identity. In his 1562 defense of Anglicanism, “Apology of the Church of England,” John Jewel relied extensively on the Fathers but quoted St. Augustine far more than any other Father of the Church to make his case. We Anglicans highly esteem the Bible as the Word of God, the norm of Christian faith, but we Anglicans also know the Bible cannot be read in a vacuum.

Everyone reads the Bible from some standpoint or tradition. Anglicans acknowledge, up front, that we read the Bible through the lens of the early Church. And Augustine was the epitome of the early Church. It is not an overstatement to say that Anglicans are essentially reformed Augustinians, keeping original sin, grace and sanctification as the integrating touchstones of our doctrine of salvation.

This reformist character of Anglicanism - defined by its Augustinian interplay of original sin, grace and sanctification - not only outlines our historical beginnings, but also illumines how modern Anglicanism “got off the rails” in North America.

The Episcopal Church spawned two quasi-theological movements in the past two centuries: Liberalism in the 19th century and the Charismatic renewal in the 20th century. Unfortunately, neither Liberalism nor Charismatic renewal rotated entirely around this Anglican theological universe.

Liberalism upheld grace, but neglected (and sometimes outright denied) original sin and sanctification. The Charismatic renewal upheld original sin and sanctification, but often neglected grace (especially in its justifying phase). Each generated its own constellation of theological shooting stars but neither illuminated the full power of salvation. Thus, neither was evangelistically fruitful.

American Christendom was not re-Christianized by the Episcopal Church. I believe the new Province of Anglicanism must appropriate the theological heritage outlined above in order to fulfill its full redemptive potential. American Christendom needs to be re-Christianized. At our best, we Anglicans are a reformed and reforming movement of Catholic Christians, devoted to the historic faith and practice of the early church.

We possess both a form (sacramental Christianity) and meaning (evangelical Christianity) that speaks to the anomie in the post-modern American soul. It is now time to thoughtfully reengage the Word of God until that Word explodes in us and we simply “let it loose” in North America. If we do, I would not be surprised to see the next Great Awakening emerge from within our communion of Churches. 

Wednesday
Jun062012

Celebrating 400 years of Anglicanism in America at the Old Jamestown Church

Tuesday
Jun052012

Welcome to The Old Jamestown Church

A blog written by me.

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