Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: September 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

Meta Lutheran: Attn Catholics…

This is an interesting observation with more than a little merit behind it… check it out on “Cruising Down the Coast of the High Barbaree“:

Assuming that people who disagree with you are uneducated, unread, ignorant morons does not help your case. I realize that it’s the Newman way, which is why I’m going to suggest you stop reading Newman. There’s this really pervasive culture within papism that any intelligent person who isn’t papist is simply ignorant. I’m not sure if this comes from Newman, the doctrine of Invincible Ignorance (i.e. any intelligent/pious person who isn’t papist is simply ignorant), or both. I’m not saying it has to stop. Actually, it gives us “Prots” endless comedic fodder when we talk about our encounters with pompous, arrogant, condescending self-righteous papists telling us how uneducated we are, how we don’t know anything about church history, how we’ve never read the Catechism, how we know nothing about foreign cultures, how we have no clue what real ministry demands, etc.

{read it all}

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First Impressions: Fr. John Bauerschmidt

Diocese of Tennessee shieldThe following are my first impressions of the slate of Bishop candidates based upon their answers submitted to the search committee of the diocese. I will add some reflections later based upon the outside materials they may have written which I could find. After I have written my first impressions I will also mention some of the questions I have about each
candidate as well as their positions and/or their theology.

Fr. John Bauerschmidt:

Upon a first cursory reading of the candidates responses, Fr. Bauerschmidt’s struck me in the most positive way–this may be because the early experience he describes, sans an Episcopalian background, is similar to my own. On the whole I felt like he was presenting a moderately conservative view of the ecclesial situation in the Anglican Communion. I appreciated the care his writing seemed to demonstrate as well as the deference he showed to the international church as a communion of faithful Christians of which
we are, and wish to remain, a part. Additionally, I thought his writing demonstrated a healthy theological perspective and seemed to convey the virtue of patience.

There were several particular sections of his response that stood out to me in a positive way, including his discussion of the shaping of his early faith through the reading of Mere Christianity, in particular his discussion of the appreciation of the Christian Tradition, which he terms “the whole world of classical
Christian conviction.” The resonance with the text as conveying “nothing manipulative, but instead a deep appreciation of the past, a reasonable appeal to the conscience, and a steady love of beauty and order that moved both heart and mind,” was one that mirrored my own experience, as was his return to the Episcopal Church as a teenager “a time when many..peers were ceasing to be active in the Church” (I became an Episcopalian at age 19, joining the church after being an effectively “unchurched” Baptist for many

Bauerschmidt seems to see leadership primarily in terms of casting a vision–in his case a vision based on ideas–and in discerning the gifts of others while equipping them to do ministry. The leader, he says “makes sure that the procession remains a procession, purposeful and ordered and not a chaotic clash of individuals to every point of the compass, but the way to do this is to lead from the front.

What about the late unpleasantness?

Certainly one of the most interesting sections of any candidate’s response will be how they answer question number III, which states: “Given the tenor of the Episcopal Church today, the hope of reconciliation and healing is on the hearts and minds of many. What is your hope as it relates to a diocese and the wider Church? Fr. Bauerschmidt’s response in this area is in large part what makes me think he may be an acceptable Bishop for the orthodox. Bauerschmidt begins
by stating that his hope is that the Episcopal Church will “both find a way to stay together and to remain a part of the Anglican Communion,” and that he is willing to work for this. He states that he realizes this will be a difficult task requiring the Episcopal Church to “operate differently in a number of ways.” The difference seems to hinge upon our obligations as Christians who recite the creeds as a standard of faith. Indicating that we cannot walk away from our responsibilities in this regard, Bauerschmidt
seems to indicate where he places our international unity on the scale of importance. This recognition of the global nature of the Anglican Communion is again expressed in the statement that:

We can hardly argue for unity on the diocesan or national level while disregarding the unity of the Church throughout the world. In comparison with the unity of the world-wide Communion, other considerations pale in importance. Our mutual forbearance and love are called for, a powerful witness to the world..

Following this statement about the value of the worldwide communion, Bauerschmidt gives an honest assessment, stating that the “temptation to disintegration has its own power,” that is, there is a sort of inertia that is built up as disintegration (churches leaving left and right) begins… it naturally spreads. In order to prevent this from spreading throughout the Communion, Bauerschmidt maintains, Anglicanism “is not going to have the luxury of continuing with ‘business as usual’.” Recognizing that change
is difficult and will take time, Bauerschmidt is clear in his belief that the only way forward for the Communion is a process like the one outlined in the Windsor report.

In reflecting on the way that Bauerschmidt addressed the questions of the most important attributes of one who is called to be a Bishop I note that he places pastoral care in the context of formation: “The Christian pastor is a mentor to the community, helping people to grow spiritually and to become leaders themselves.” As part of this he mentions the desire to point people toward Scripture and to encourage them in their relationship with God. Additionally, in looking at the role of the Episcopacy, Bauerschmidt
indicated that he believes “above all, [a bishop should be] a person of prayer, a theologian, and teacher.” At this point in the life of the Episcopal Church, I could think of only one quality needed–not necessarily “more” but in addition to these… and that is clear leadership and vision–there’s no doubt AT ALL that we need theologians in the Episcopacy as what passes for theology in the House of Bishops is often a joke (and a bad one at that).

lastly for the section discussing his view of the episcopacy, Bauerschmidt says a few things that I find interesting, though (as with some other things) I would like more clarification: in explaining the statement that a Bishop must be missionary minded, Bauerschmidt states that “The bishop is going to have to re-deploy his or her own time away from maintenance and toward mission.” Additionally he states that “The days of episcopacy as a distant “hierarchy” insulated from the realities of the Church’s mission
have already passed away. Change is afoot, and so we need to get moving.” While I like this language and find myself agreeing with what I believe the premises are, I would like some clarification about what this actually means in more concrete terms.

In considering Bauerschmidt’s theological statement, I would say it was very solid and well-grounded. Beginning with the Parish as the heart of ministry, he focuses on several key areas that are foundational to his theology: first comes prayer–as he states the theologian is the one who prays. As with all prayer and worship there must be an object of prayer and devotion–in this case the Person of Jesus Christ whom Bauerschmidt highlights as central to his theology. Not only is Christ central, but he says that
“faith is rooted in relationship with Jesus Christ: God in flesh, a Person embodying both divine and human natures…” Continuing on to discuss the ways in which Love/relationship/the community of faith as well as the Scriptures and sacraments are central to his theology Bauerschmidt segues into a clear discussion of the cross, “the chief expression of both love and relationship…the cross is about sacrificial, redemptive love. Personally, I would like some discussion of the transformative nature
of the Christian faith as well as its redemptive character, but perhaps that will come out later.

I find Bauerschmidt’s writing style good and demonstrative of a range of knowledge. I appreciate many of the points he makes, though I would like more information or clarification on some. The questions that I have regarding him as Bishop would relate primarily to his leadership and his commitments, both theological and practical, i.e. is he solidly orthodox or is he willing to compromise on some things which should not be compromised on? Additionally I wonder if he’s able to lead, and if so if he would be able
to further the tradition of mission and church-planting which has been established and is one of the healthiest parts of the Diocese of Tennessee. That’s my first impression summary of Bauerschmidt.

More to come on the other candidates, as well as a consideration of other writings outside the search committee questionnaire.

And They're Off!

Diocese of Tennessee shieldThe names of the nominees for the 11th Bishop of Tennessee have been released. You can read more about them on the Bishop search web site. There are five nominees this go-round:

With joy and enthusiasm the Episcopate Committee of the Diocese of Tennessee presents the following persons as nominees for election as our 11th Bishop: The Rev. John C Bauerschmidt from The Diocese of Louisiana; The Rev. James L. Burns from The Diocese of New York; The Rev. Thack H. Dyson from The
Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast; The Rev. Dr. Russell Jones Levenson, Jr. from The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast; and The Rev. Carter N Paden from The Diocese of East Tennessee.

I thought I would provide some initial thoughts as I read their biographies and responses to questions. Keep in mind that these are initial impressions and a thorough examination of each of the candidates and the gifts they bring will require more time and (hopefully) some interaction. I will be posting more thoughts as I have time over the next few days. I’m looking forward to meeting these men, and hope that we can put some of the past behind us. I, of all people, want a strong Bishop and felt I had an understanding
of who out of the last slate of candidates that would’ve been… but it was not to be. So, the question is, how can we be open to the guidance of the Spirit in a time like this, with the Episcopal Church in the situation it is in now. Can one of these candidates manage to be both a strong leader and a reconciler? Can they be clear and demonstrate their convictions, lead a self-defined “Windsor Diocese” that has a depth of division among its clergy and to a much lesser extent, its laity?
I’ll be up front about my bias: I became an Episcopalian so that I could be Anglican… I have no interest in being part of a small American sect, one among a plethora of ever-expanding protestant groups. My hope and prayer for the next Bishop of Tennessee is that they will first and foremost be godly–and by that I mean committed, heart and soul, to Jesus Christ and to the saving message of the gospel. I pray they will be pious and a person of prayer. I pray that the next Bishop will be a person of conviction,
and will not be afraid to state those convictions in the councils of the church. I pray they will be humble, willing to listen, but bold in action when they discern it to be of God. I pray they will be committed to the Anglican Communion, to maintaining the relationship between the world-wide Anglican family and this Diocese. I pray that our next bishop will be a leader–for that is what we truly need. I pray that whomever the next Bishop is, they will continue the commitment to church planting so emphasized
during Bishop Herlong’s episcopate. I also long for someone who will emphasize and cast a compelling vision for youth, college and young adult ministry, without neglecting the strengths we already have as a Diocese. Finally, my prayer is that the next bishop be a capable and thoughtful theologian who can clearly articulate a theological vision in the midst of the theological confusion and muddle that is today’s Episcopal Church.
Can any of these nominees do that? I pray so… now, the question is (since this is my blog) which ones strike me as possibilities?
Dwight Yoakam:Intentional Heartache:Blame the Vain[4:23]

Something neat…


One of the neat things about marriage is being proud of your spouse… Anna has been writing columns for The New Living Translation web site… this along with her other writing projects make me very proud… not that she has to do anything to make me proud of her, but you get the picture. 🙂
Here’s a bit from one of her most recent articles in the exploring Christianity section:

What is the transfiguration?
by Anna Aven Howard

Perhaps one of the more interesting occurrences in the life of Jesus is the transfiguration. In this event, Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray—that’s not unusual—and take his disciples with him—this is unusual. While he’s praying, “the appearance of his face changed and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29)—that’s really unusual. And if that weren’t enough, Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus about “his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).

Let’s see: exodus, glowing face, Moses. . . . All three of these things have appeared together before in Scripture. If we look back to the book of Exodus, when Moses receives the Ten Commandments, we read that he comes down off the mountain with his face glowing (see Exodus 34:29-35). Exodus tells us his face “had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD.” Moses’ face was literally reflecting the glory of God when he came off the mountain.

{Read it all}

Benedict XVI Stirring the Theological/Philosophical Pot

It appears that Muslims weren’t the only ones shaken up by the Pope’s recent address reguarding dehellenization. Indeed, the references to Islam were far from the primary point of his lecture. Instead, Benedict XVI was seeking to enliven and direct the current theological and philosophical debate over Truth and reason, the ability to know God etc… There are many within contemporary theological circles who would call this turn to Plato damaging… they all have their own favorites though, such as Kant etc… Having been called a Platonist on occasion, and appreciating the neo-platonic thought that influenced the formulation of the Nicene (or Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan if you want to get picky) Creed, I can appreciate the negativity directed at the Pope… especially since I inspired quite an outburst by a former Roman Priest/ethics professor when I pointed out during a discussion of Mormonism (which he defended as fully Christian) that at the very least one had to consider them heretical on the level of the Arians when one considers their Christology, such as it is, against the rule of the Nicene Creed…a sentiment which was for him that day, the straw that broke the camel’s back. At any rate, here’s a selection of the Pope’s speech, with some interesting points highlighted.

encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: Come over to Macedonia and help us! (cf. Acts 16:6-10)– this vision can be interpreted as a distillation of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.
In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning
bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and declares simply that he is, is already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates’s attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple
formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: I am. This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual
enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria– the Septuagint– is more than a simple (and in that sense perhaps less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity.There is an interesting
discussion of Augustine’s understanding of inspired translation by Matt over at Fragmenta. Additionally, he asks some pertinent questions about the New Testament’s position toward translations and the establishing of doctrine. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought
now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act with logos is contrary to God’s nature.

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This Just In: Irony Lost on Muslim Extremists

Prooving the picture right?

Pope Benedict XVI has offended some in the Muslim world for daring to quote from a dialogue by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologusyou can read more about Emperor Manuel on Wikipedia
in which he states “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.You can read the entirety of the Pope’s speech, in English, here

The irony of this story doesn’t become apparent however, until one takes a look at the Muslim responses. Consider the following from the New York Daily News:

Headline: “Threats of an attack on Vatican”

A radical Muslim group threatened a suicide attack on the Vatican yesterday even as the Holy See said Pope Benedict regretted that some Muslims were offended by his comments about the role of violence in the spread of Islam.

The pontiff “sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful, and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said in a statement.
But the Pope’s apology by proxy was not enough to quell a string of attacks against Christian churches on the West Bank and in Gaza. And Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood demanded a direct mea culpa from the head of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics.

Mohammed Bishr, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member, said the statement “was not an apology” but a “pretext that the Pope was quoting somebody else as saying so and so.” “We need the Pope to admit the big mistake he has committed and then agree on apologizing, because we will not accept others to apologize on his behalf,” Bishr said.

An Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the Pope’s remarks, according to a statement posted yesterday on the Web.
“We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life,” said the message posted in the name of the Mujahedeen Army on a Web site frequently used by militant groups. The message’s authenticity could not be independently verified. The statement was addressed to “you dog of Rome” and threatens to “shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home.”
you can read the full article here

Hat tip to Fr. WB.

Limited Love?

Eric from On the Wittenberg Trail has posted an interesting critique of an argument which posits from the basis of limited atonement a doctrine of limited love, i.e. God does not love everyone. Eric takes this understanding to task… here’s the punchline:

If God does not love sinners, then He doesnt love me. But He does love sinners. He loves His enemies. He loves the whole world and He gave His Son to die for ALL of the above!

You should read it all

From Communio Sanctorum: On Christ-Hauntedness

The folks over at Communio Sanctorum have written an interesting reflection on the nature of being a “Christ-haunted” culture. They began their observations with this selection from a speech by Flannery O’Connor:

Whenever I am asked why Southern writers particularly have this penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man. And in the South, the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological. Of course, the South is changing so rapidly that almost anything you say about Southern belief can be denied in the next breath with equal propriety. But I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. It is interesting that as belief in the divinity of Christ decreases, there seems to be a preoccupation with Christ-figures in our fiction. What is pushed to the back of the mind makes its way forward somehow. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature, for it is the business of the artist to reveal what haunts us. We in the South may be in the process of exorcising this ghost which has given us our vision of perfection… (Collected Works [The Library of America, 1988], p.861.)

{Read it all}

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