Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: May 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

St. Bonaventure: Selections from Conferences on the Hexaemeron

I thought the following selection from St. Bonaventure concerning the importance of scripture might be beneficial and enjoyable to some of the visitors to this blog. We could do well to heed his warnings and advice in our own day. This selection is taken from Conferences on the Hexaemeron which served as a blueprint for the eventual condemnation of Thomas Aquinas in 1277. Obviously the condemnation didn’t hold, but the points are important nonetheless. The only place I’ve been able to find a translation of this work is in a collection entitled: “Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions”, while I commend this collection to you, I would like to have this in its entirety, preferably in a collection of St. Bonaventure’s other works. If anyone knows of such a source, please let me know.


[T]he disciple of Christ ought first to study Holy Scripture, in which there is no error, just as boys first learn the letters, namely, ABC, afterwards, the syllables, then to read, then what the part and the construction signify, and then they understand…

Thus there is danger in descending to the originals [Church Fathers]; there is more danger in descending to the summas of the masters [scholastics]; but the greatest danger lies in descending to philosophy. This is because the words of the originals are pretty and can be too attractive; but Holy Scripture does not have pretty words like that. Augustine would not take it for good if I should prefer him to Christ because of the beauty of his words, just as Paul reproached those who wished to be baptized in the name of Paul. In the course of study, then, caution must be exercised in descending from careful attention in reading Scripture to the originals. There should be a similar warning about descending to the summas of the masters, for the masters sometimes do not understand the saints, as the Master of the Sentences, great as he was, did not understand Augustine in some places. Whence the summas of the masters are like the introductions of boys to the text of Aristotle. Let the student beware, then, lest he depart from the common way.


…faith is above reason and is proved only by the authority of Scripture and the divine power, which is manifested in miracles; hence he made the fire which he wished to enter into their presence. For the water of philosophical science is not to be mingled with the wine of Holy Scripture merely so that the wine is transmitted into water, which is indeed a bad sign and contrary to the primitive church, when recently converted clerics such as Dionysius dismissed the books of the philosophers and took up the books of Holy Scripture. But in modern times the wine is changed into water and the bread into stone, just the reverse of the miracles of Christ.

Cool stuff from Google Analytics

Months ago I signed up for the waiting list to get on with Google Analytics. What is Google Analytics you might ask? Well, its a service offered by google, intended primarily for use with Add words and other marketing techniques for larger internet companies, but also available to some small fries like me, with a little patience and waiting. Well, I was finally allowed to sign up for the program, and I’m glad I did. While typepad allows me to see where a lot of the visitors I get come from, Google goes into much more detail. Here area few screen shots:

Here’s a breakdown of visitors from the US:

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You can see a global breakdown by clicking on the thumbnail below. Cool stuff.

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Conflict over “The New Perspective”

Paul Owen of Communio Sanctorum has written an interesting post over at Reformed Catholicism in response to the conflict over the "New Perspective on Paul" and Bishop Tom (NT) Wright.  Here’s a selection:

There are some exceptions of course–Guy Waters and several of the contributors to volume 2 of Justification and Variegated Nomism come to mind.  However, with the exception of Waters–whose work has an almost schizophrenic disjunct between his descriptive role as a NT scholar in some places, and his polemical role as a “player” in the world of PCA politics in others–the critiques of Wright’s more learned critics tend to be considerably more moderate in tone than those now circulating in the Reformed world.  You will not hear them using alarming rhetoric which indicates that the gospel is at stake in these debates, or which implies that Wright and the NPP are somehow leading people in the direction of the damnable heresy of Rome and Popery.  Furthermore, nearly all (there are exceptions) of these scholars grant the point that has caused some of the most serious charges against Wright–namely that justification is not only a punctiliar experience at the beginning of the Christian life, but an entering into a new familial relationship with God which is not finally concluded until the Day of Judgment.  That is such an obvious teaching in Romans 2 and elsewhere in the NT, that few credible scholars even debate the point.

{Read it all}

Da Vinci Code Questions

Gavin over at "Hit the Back Button to Move Forward" has posted his thoughts on the response of youth to The Da Vinci Code movie.  Here’s some of what he had to say:

what i was really interested in though was the youth’s reactions & questions to the movie. once we left the theater there were quite a few questions and thoughts. however, much of what the youth were interested in was, what i would view, the simple fictional creations. things like: "what’s up with albino monk?" "why did that guy whip himself?" making the male female symbols, and "i didn’t get where the pagans were in this, aren’t they into devil worship?"

i suppose they never caught on to the Constantinian conspiracy development of the canon and exclusion of gospel of Mary Magdalene. in the movie that stuff moves by so quickly that for the viewer of the movie without having read the book, or having some good historic knowledge, would miss that stuff.

{Read it all}

Good stuff from Bishop Fitz Allison on the debate around imputation vs infusion


Kendall Harmon has posted a wonderful rejoinder by Bishop Allison regarding various critiques of his book The Rise of Moralism. The primary theological sticking point is around the issue of imputed vs. infused righteousness. Traditionally, protestants have held to a view of imputed righteousness while Roman Catholics have defended an understanding of infused righteousness. Here’s what The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has to say about them:


(from Lat. imputare, GK logidzomai). A central aspect of classical Protestant theologies of justification, according to which the righteousness of Christ is imputed or reckoned to the believer, despite being extrensic to his person, in order that he may be justified on its basis. This is contrasted with the teaching of the Council of Trent, that the believer is justified on the basis of imparted or infused righteousness, intrinsic to his person. Acc. to classical Protestant theology, the justification of the believer on account of the ‘alien righteousness of Christ’ is followed immediately by a process of renewal and growth in personal righteousness. Support for this doctrine is found in certain passages of St Paul (notably Rom. 4; Gal 3:21 f).

For the concept in Anglican theology, see C.F. Allison, The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter (1966), passim.

Here’s a selection from what Bishop Allison said in response to his critics:

Lord Moulton, a 19th century Anglican jurist, made the wise observation that “the measure of a civilization is its degree of obedience to the unenforceable.” This quality of citizenship responsibility is the capacity for complicity and guilt. The Reformation was able to impose this corporate responsibility because a state of grace did not invariably preclude being a sinner and accepting responsibility for the corruption or failings of one’s society. The failure to do so is one of the great failings of Latin societies nurtured in post-Tridentine Catholicism. (Certainly Protestant society’s biblical grasp of this gracious but complicit responsibility is being eroded by our common foe, secularism, which is losing even the very concept of sin.)

I’ve enjoyed reading the whole thread, but I particularly enjoyed William Witt’s comments. For example:

Neither Luther nor the other Reformers believed that Christ’s righteousness remained alien. The point of sanctification is that Christ’s righteousness becomes effective through the presence of the Holy Spirit, which unites me to the humanity of the risen Christ. The question of infusion is, then, a red herring. The Reformers were more than willing to affirm that sanctification is infused righteousness. They denied strongly, howeer, that such infused righteousness was the ground of my standing before God–my justification. For to insist that my inner righteousness (even infused righteousness) was the ground of my standing before God was to turn my attention inward, away from Christ’s effective work, and toward my own ability to appropriate that work, a dubious proposition.

That is why, for the Reformers, justification has to be by faith alone, for faith by definition, looks away from itself to its object. Of course, later Protestant Christianity was able to turn even the doctrine of justification by faith into a form of works-righteousness by saying that the ground of my standing before God is the sincerity of my faith. But, this, of course, is a denial of the very nature of faith, which, by definition, turns away from itself.

You can read the whole essay and all the responses here. Also, take a look at Bishop Allison’s book on Amazon.

“The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter” (C. Fitzsimons Allison)

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Credo: An interview with Jaroslav Pelikan, “The Need for Creeds”

Jaroslav Pelikan’s importance to history and theology simply can’t be overstated.  In addition to that, I’ve always found his writing to be clear and helpful… there’s no doubt that we are much poorer without him.  Dan Greeson turned me on to this great interview with Pelikan, recorded in 2003 when he was 80 years old.  You can listen to the audio here.  I think it likely that in years to come we may look back at the work Pelikan has done on Christian Creeds during our age–which is so obviously opposed to any solid statements of faith–and see it as an inspiration for people of faith to hold fast to the truths long confessed in the Creeds.

Wisdom from Sewanee’s past

There’s another conflict brewing on the Mountain, this one swirling around the move by several faculty at College of Arts and Sciences’ to remove the reference “enlightened by the Christian faith in the Anglican tradition” from the university’s statement of purpose. Brad Drell has already posted on this and one of his commenters, Jill Woodliff, left this great quote:

William Porcher Dubose, one of the most creative theologians produced by the American Episcopal Church, was a professor at Sewanee. This is an excerpt of a sermon preached in the University Chapel on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 1911:

“… What can we put, not only into shape, but into motion here at Sewanee, for Sewanee, for the Church, for our country and our time? No doubt such questions have come to many of us in the form: What new thing can we devise, what new interest arouse, what new movement inaugurate? I suggest in anticipation what is probably a better form of the query: How can we acquire the secret of making the old ever new, and keeping it so? . . .What is the moral already? We do not forever want new things; we want the art of keeping things forever new.”

Back to the Sacred Oak of Insanity [updated]

Graphics\Address2 This is the heading at the top of the web site of the Episcopal Book/Resource center at the national church headquarters in New York City. In keeping with this mission they are offering only the best Christian literature possible more pagan ritual for a Church that has lost its way as well as its mind. Fr. WB over at Whitehall turned me on to this, and Stand Firm has continued their work by looking into this issue. Consider this little gem, it’s a book of “Love Spells” written by an author who has written a number of neo-pagan books. In the span of the three years since I came to Sewanee for seminary, we have seen a pagan religious service Users Jbhoward2 Library Application-Support Ecto Attachments Fc1841725161 masquerading (and not very well at that) as a “women’s eucharist” on the national church website. This service included blatant Astarte worship and any reference to Christianity was a thin veneer. Later, it was discovered that the female priest who had posted this liturgy had in fact posted a neo-pagan Druid service which she had written under he Druidic pseudonym “Glispa.” Glen Ruppe Melnyk is her name; she and her husband Bill, in addition to being Episcopal Priests, moonlighted as Druids. Bill Melnyk ended up resigning his Episcopal Orders and becoming a full-time druid. At any rate, the inclusion of this book on the Episcopal Church Book and Resource center page illustrates two things. First, it is further evidence of something a friend of mine said in college, “Wicca/neo-paganism is nothing more than a pre-packaged religion for teenage girls,” (apologies to teen age girls, most of whom wouldn’t fall for the sort of tripe one gets in neo-paganism), and it shows the further decline of the institutional Episcopal Church into an apostasy based upon utter denial and foolishness. Since Stand Firm seems to be having a problem with the screen-capture they took of this page, I took the liberty of creating my own, so that there will be a record of this, unlike the Women’s Eucharist (or the liturgy for divorce that also appeared), which had all evidence of it expunged from the national Church’s web site after conflict arose.

Picture 2

[update: it appears that the title has been removed from the bookstore, though one can still find the original page that it was on, you can’t get to it through searches of author, ISBN, title etc… they seem to have removed it from their available purchases, and one assumes this page will be gone soon. It also appears that this page may have been left over from an older site, as it looks like the Episcopal Book and Resource center now uses a service called “Anthology” to manage their content. Be that as it may, this event still illustrates a major problem in ECUSA, which is perhaps best expressed by the concern voiced by a friend of mine because the wife of his rector works in a new-age book store, and often conducts seminars for people within the parish…. there are simply too many people in ECUSA who don’t see any conflict between spells, neo-pagan chants or any number of other things and Christianity.]

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