Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: July 2006 (Page 2 of 2)

On the Wittenburg Trail: Is it a sin to withhold Baptism from infants?


Eric over On the Wittenburg Trail has a challenging post regarding Paedo (infant) baptism entitled “Is It Sin?” asking the question of whether it is a sin to withhold baptism from infants. He makes some good arguments, largely hinging upon Luke 18, but also incorporating the Great Commission, i.e. the command to make disciples of all nations. As he says:

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Notice the preface to Christ’s command. “All authority… has been given to me.” This could be called a “kingdom issue.” Jesus is the King – the anointed ruler of God’s kingdom. His throne has been established and now his rule must be extended. Therefore, the whole body of disciples, Christ’s Church, is called to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them and teaching them. Who is eligible to receive membership in God’s kingdom? Who is eligible to become a disciple?

Most churches would say that everybody is eligible, but there is a large minority who say that only those who personally express their willingness to accept the call to discipleship, with all of its attendant responsibilities, should be admitted to its privileges. Therefore, among many Christians, infants and small children are systematically excluded from Christian discipleship.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…” He calls for the little children and not just the older children. Scripture tells us explicitly that this category of children includes “even infants” (Luke 18:15-17). “…and do not hinder them…” We see elsewhere in scripture that such language is associated with water baptism (Acts 8:36 “What prevents me?” and 10:47 “Can anyone withhold water?”). “…for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” This is the clincher. What was only suspected when we read Matthew 28:19,20 is explicitly confirmed for us in the dual witness of Matthew 19:14 and Luke 18:16. Infants and little children, so young as to be brought to Jesus in the arms of their parents and guardians, are given a place in God’s kingdom. They are eligible for discipleship.

{read it all}

Eric also has a latter post in which he asks for an example of infants and children being excluded from baptism in Acts. Here are my responses to them:

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William G. Witt responds to General Convention

Will G. Witt takes a stab at General Convention and it’s aftermath. Hat tip to Dr. Leander Harding.

2. A “Fundamentalist” Takeover

If political analogies prove inadequate to assess the current crisis, so does the assessment of “Fundamentalism.” There is much about the current situation that echoes the Fundamentalist/Liberal crisis in American Protestantism of the 1920’s and 30’s or the Modernist crisis of the early twentieth century in the Roman Catholic Church. But in its original context, Fundamentalism had a specific meaning. Fundamentalists were a group of American Protestants who resisted the use of biblical historical criticism and affirmed a group of positions identified in a series of books entitled The Fundamentals (1909). Similarly, among Roman Catholics, the Oath Against Modernism represented an attempt to maintain the edifice of Tridentine Catholicism against theological innovation during the early twentieth century. But the categories of Protestant Fundamentalism and Tridentine Catholicism hardly apply in the current context. Anglican Christians endorsed the tools of biblical criticism in the nineteenth century, decades prior to the rise of Protestant Fundamentalism, without simultaneously endorsing the theology of Liberal Protestantism. One thinks of the tradition of scholars like B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, the Lux Mundi school of Anglo-Catholics, of Sir Edwin Hoskyns and Noel Davies, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, C. F. D. Moule, and contemporary biblical scholars like Bishop N. T. Wright and Christopher Seitz.(18) While all were highly critical of the main thrust of Liberal Protestant theology, none could be classified as Fundamentalists. In the Roman Catholic Church, critically orthodox scholars like Hans urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, and Yves Congar were held in suspicion before Vatican II, but they were hardly Modernists, and, after Vatican II, found themselves at odds with many of the changes they were said to have initiated. There are of course, contemporary Protestants who rightly identify themselves as Fundamentalists (for example, Jerry Falwell or Tim LaHaye, the author of the popular Left Behind novels), but in the current conversation, “Fundamentalism” operates not as a descriptive term, but only as a term of opprobrium.

The current use has some resemblance to an earlier one that associated Fundamentalism with a kind of ultra-orthodox defensiveness, made evident by suspicion of such examples of modern biblical scholarship as the Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible, or in opposition to cultural practices such as drinking alcohol, dancing, smoking, movie attendance, or playing cards. In a previous generation, the Evangelical scholar E. J. Carnell assessed this version of Protestant Fundamentalism as a “cultic orthodoxy,” in distinction to the more critical and open orthodoxy of what was then called Neo-Evangelicalism.(19) But if all Christian orthodoxy is “Fundamentalism,” then the accusation of Fundamentalism is redundant. It is simply a way of saying that one’s opponent upholds an orthodoxy of which one disapproves.

{read it all}

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It’s a Meme

Fr. WB over at Whitehall has tagged me with a musical meme. I’ve been listening mostly to folk lately, though I have discovered a few new artists over the past few months, including Ray

LaMontagne and Griffin House. Generally you’ll find Josh Joplin, Fountains of Wayne and Ryan Adams (usually his stuff with Whiskeytown) in my CD player or iPod. At any rate, here are the answers to the meme:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre,

whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must

be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your

blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 6 other people to see what

they’re listening to.

1. Shelter “Trouble” (Ray LaMontagne)

2. James River Blues “Down Home Girl” (Old Crow Medicine Show)

3. Occam’s Carol (O Sight of Anguish) “Every Sound Below” (Tim Eriksen)

4. Every Sound Below “Every Sound Below” (Tim Eriksen)

5. Empty “Live from Bonnaroo 2005” (Ray Lamontagne)

5. I’m Not Afraid to Die (Gillian Welch and Willie Nelson on an EP of the same name… no Amazon link that I can find)

6. The Way I Was Made “Lost & Found” (Griffin House)

7. Talkin’ Goin’ to Alaska Blues “9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor” (Shawn Mullins)

I tag the following folks, even though I don’t know if they will all be interested…:

Anna (Come on Honey, you can do it!)

Fr. David Dubay at the Confessing Tiger

Fr. Patrick Allen at Mine Iron Heart

Kyle Potter at Vindicated

Dan Greeson at the Christ Journey

And just to add to the Pressure, Dr. Harmon…maybe TWO will work…

Sermon for Proper 8, July 2nd 2006

Text: Deuteronomy 15:7-11; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15; Mark 5:22-24,35b-43

Theme: Receiving God’s grace and sharing it

Subject: generosity with our faith

Title: A debt we cannot repay

I’m always amazed by the familiarity of scripture… the way people are portrayed and behave. If anything argues for the fact that scripture is relevant for us today, it’s that we still act in the same way. We may have our own little quirks, but for the most part people are people whether they lived 1 or 3 or 5 thousand years ago.

Just think about our readings today and what they deal with.

In the Old Testament Moses is laying down loan regulations and in the New Testament Paul… a preacher… is trying to take up a collection.

And people say scripture’s no longer relevant?

And our Gospel reading … who here today wouldn’t do whatever it might take to get help for their sick child?

When you get right down to it, not much has changed in the last 2000 years.

In our New Testament reading, Paul is trying to explain God’s fairness to the Corinthians, to help them understand how to rely on God, and through that reliance, find a way to be generous. He wants them to know that with God, “the one who [has] much [will] not have too much, and the one who [has] little [will] not have too little.”

He wants to assure the Corinthians, who come from a wealthy area, that if they are generous now, they can expect because of God’s fairness, to receive help when they need it…

Pauls’ not above a little goading either, as he makes sure the Corinthians know just how generous the Macedonians have been. Now, to the Corinthians, cosmopolitan people that they were, being outshone by the Macedonians, a bunch of hill-billies, would have been unthinkable, and the possibility was probably very motivating. I’m sure Paul knew about their prejudices when he told the Corinthians about what the Macedonians had done, but I also believe that he knew it would also inspire them in their faith.

“We want you to know, Brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia.”

“We want you to know about the grace of God…”

What is it that Paul is talking about?

What is the grace of God?

We get an inkling of it in the Old Testament, with Moses’ admonition not to refuse aid to a neighbor based upon their ability to repay, and in the reference to “the 7th year” the year of remission, a time set aside in ancient Israel in which all debts would be set aside and lands would return to the families they originally belonged to. This was a foreshadowing, a foretaste of what was to come with Jesus Christ.

If there’s one thing the Apostle Paul who calls himself chief among sinners, understood it’s the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ.

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For the U2 Fans among us…

I’m not much of a U2 fan myself (Bono’s voice tends to be overshadowed by the music itself for me… I simply can’t hear him most of the time, and when I do I’m often not impressed.) but for those of you who are U2 fans, or have been, but have found yourselves experiencing the phenomenon now being called “Bono Fatigue,” I’ve found the site for you. It even helped me, a non-U2 fan recover from the after-effects of a “U2-charist” inflicted upon me by the torturers employed by Sewanee’s EFM (Education for Ministry) program. Enjoy… and, there is hope.

Here’s a selection from the comments of those recovering at the site:

“Bono is to his audience what Benny Hinn is to his. Both are considered to “preach” the message of God. The only difference is that Bono’s followers think they’re hot snot. Benny’s don’t. I wonder which posture God honors? Just a thought.” Futurepres293, Lincoln NB

“Can Christian magazines let up on the Bono hagiographies already? Okay, so you figured out that he’s a Christian, you think he’s a prophet. Big deal. Can we get off the rock star kick? Or am I suddenly uncool? I hope this site is about free expression.” Dantheman123, Nowhere

“I relapsed last night and listened to the first three songs of Achtung. By the time The Fly rolled around I was back to thinking Bono was Elijah. It’s amazing how long it takes to get over distorted thoughts. I can’t wait ’til my detox is done and I get back to regular listening. I miss U2, but I can’t have them right now!” TheFly3244, Seattle

“I have a great solution that works for me: anytime I start thinking Bono is God I picture him (Bono) with a big nose, like a proboscis (sp?) monkey. That pops the bubble.” Zoe, Auburn CA

“I’m soooooo glad I found this site! Like a lot of other people, my BF started in May 2005. I’d been scouring the Internet for Bono interviews and reading them like a starved cat. Then I over-did it and started showing classic BF symptoms: pomposity, anger at the U.S. church, alienation from friends, etc. I didn’t know about BF then. My mom said she never saw me smile anymore. I felt smug every time I walked by my U2 collection.

Now it’s been 8 months and I’m getting better. I listened to Edge’s solo project for the first time and that was like a stay at a halfway house. Maybe I’ll re-enter in July.”

Amanda, Syracuse

And now, get rid of you’re own BF… we’re with you!


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Which theologian are you?

Anna reminded me of this quiz, I’ve taken it before and come away with similar results, though I can’t find the earlier results, so I’m not sure how similar–I just know I came out as Barth–I think Luther and Calvin may have been reversed then…*shrug* At any rate, it’s fun.

You scored as Karl Barth. The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.



Karl Barth


Jurgen Moltmann


John Calvin


Martin Luther


Paul Tillich


Friedrich Schleiermacher




Jonathan Edwards


Charles Finney


Which theologian are you?
created with

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