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Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Tag: Ecclesiology (page 2 of 5)

From Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity

Anna and I had a conversation once, several months ago, about how some pastors of mega-churches are really functioning as Bishops without the title. We were talking about one of Anna’s former pastors, Jack Hayford, and his reputation for holiness as an example. Well, recently I’ve been reading the very interesting book Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition by Claudia Rapp. Dr. Rapp writes a lot about the acquisition of various kinds of authority by the Episcopal office. One of these is what she calls ascetical authority–basically authority through holiness of life–and it is the sort of authority on which other forms depended. Tonight I was flipping through the book and this section caught my eye. I think it might have some application to our current difficulties…and since I’ve always liked Origen, and Pope Benedict has recently given him something of a rehabilitation, I don’t feel that bad about quoting him… 🙂

Origen, in the late third century, oscillates between the generalizing application of Paul’s passage [1 Tim. 3:1-7] that had been typical of the earlier period and the assumption that certain men, because they possess the virtues catalogued by Paul, are identified as episkopoi before God. Origen addresses this issue in two passages in his Commentary on Matthew. In the first passage, he explains that those who conform to the virtues set out by Paul for bishops rightfully exercise the power to bind and loose. In other words, the possession of virtues precedes and indeed is the precondition for the exercise of penitential authority that is largely the prerogative of bishops. In the second passage, Origen says that Jewish Rabbis receive recognition in the eyes of the people because of the external markers of their position, such as the most prominent seat at banquets or in the synagogue. Bishops, by contrast, are recognized in the eyes of God because of their virtues: “For he who has in him the virtues that Paul lists about the bishop, even if he is not a bishop among men, is a bishop before God, even if the [episcopal] rank has not been bestowed on him through the ordination by men.” To illustrate his point, Origen invokes the example of the physician and the pilot of a ship. These men retain their skill and ability, even if they lack the opportunity to exercise them. the physician remains a physician even if he has no patients, and the pilot remains a pilot even if he has no ship to navigate. Taken to its logical conclusion, Origen’s reasoning allows that there may be many more “bishops before God” than there are bishops among men. Moreover, it opens the door to the possibility that men who do not quallify as “bishops before God” are nonetheless ordained to the episcopate. This is in tune with Origen’s general tendency to expose the worldliness of the church as an institution. Criticism of this nature would become even more pronounced in the post-Constantinian era. (p35)

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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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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Something I missed

The Diocese of Springfield has requested alternative primatial oversight… that makes 6. So far.

Titusonenine has more.

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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.

Anselm

100%

Karl Barth

100%

Jurgen Moltmann

80%

John Calvin

80%

Martin Luther

67%

Paul Tillich

67%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

60%

Augustine

53%

Jonathan Edwards

40%

Charles Finney

40%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

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Stand Firm interviews George Conger and Andrew Carey

At tip to Kendall and of course, to the Stand Firm. This video was taken moments after the joint session that Presiding Bishop Griswold called to get something through in response to Windsor.

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1+3 4=4 5

Acnlogoweb

Today three Dioceses of South Carolina, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin joined the Diocese of Fort Worth in requesting alternative primatial oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury etc… This raises interesting questions. foremost among them: exactly what authority, if any, does ECUSA TEC have to keep dioceses in? It has seemed to me to be historically true that Bishops (and Diocesan Conventions/ Standing committees) exercise supreme authority in their dioceses in matters of affiliation (hence the early years of the church where several Bishops did not attend General Convention and the Civil War years where all it took for the creation of a separate province was for the Southern Bishops to stay home and meet together.) So here’s the question about the creation of a 10th province: Why can’t Network and Windsor Bishops simply forego involvement in the broader church, not recognize its authority and meet together in synod/convention instead? Wouldn’t that be a handy internal solution?

UPDATE: Central Florida has joined with the lot requesting alternative primatial oversight.

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Akinola++ and CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa) Respond to General Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Anglican Communion Network

June 22, 2006

Contact: Jenny Noyes 412-325-8900

An Open Letter to the Episcopal Church USA

We, the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), meeting in Kampala on 21st – 22nd June, have followed with great interest your meeting of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA in Columbus. We have been especially concerned by the development of your response to The Windsor Report, which has been reported to us quite extensively. This is something for which we have earnestly prayed. We are, however, saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions. At the same time, we welcome the various expressions of affection for the life and work of the Anglican Communion.

We have been moved by your generosity as you have rededicated yourselves to meet the needs of the poor throughout the world, especially through your commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.

We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same gender sexual relationships in civic life, church life and leadership. We have noted the many affirmations of this throughout the Convention. As you know, our Churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scriptures and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion. All four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion advised you against taking and continuing these commitments and actions prior to your General Convention in 2003.

At our meeting in Kampala we have committed ourselves to study very carefully all of your various actions and statements. When we meet with other Primates from the Global South in September, we shall present our concerted pastoral and structural response.

We assure all those Scripturally faithful dioceses and congregations alienated and marginalised within your Provincial structure that we have heard their cries.

In Christ,

The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, on behalf of CAPA

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The Anglican Communion Institute responds to General Convention

The following is a selection of the general response of the Anglican Communion Institute (an orthodox think-tank) to the resolutions passed by General Convention today.

The fact that same-sex blessings were not addressed at all, in either B033 or in any other resolution, represents a devastating lacuna in General Convention’s response to Windsor. Given that the new Presiding Bishop-elect is a well-known facilitator of such blessings, this silence affords Bp. Jefferts-Schori at least a certain room to maneuver within Convention. But if in fact B033 cannot point up the inconsistency between its recommendations and the actual actions of its leaders, then it only proves its own uselessness. In any case, leaving both the Communion and members of the Episcopal Church to guess at the status of same-sex blessings within this church seems, under the circumstances of the last few years’ conflicts, to be a grave disservice to our common life and trust. While the need to use “the exact language of Windsor” in its resolutions was perhaps overblown, at least within a context of genuine desire to respond positively, General Convention’s refusal or failure even to address central elements of Windsor’s requests, with or without exact language, only testifies to the Convention’s own internal inadequacy to engage the Communion at the most basic level. It thus undercuts even the most generous reading of B033’s first resolve. Here, for instance, is what the Windsor Report actually asks with respect to same-sex blessings:



While we recognise that the Episcopal Church (USA) has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions, the decision to authorise rests with diocesan bishops. Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We recommend that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter (The Windsor Report, par. 144)

It seems evident, therefore, that General Convention set aside a major element of the Windsor Report’s recommendations; and that the “invitation” to withdraw from representative functions in the Anglican Communion still stands – an invitation apparently now aimed at our own Presiding Bishop-Elect. It is hard to see why the Convention left their new leader hanging in this way.

{read it all}

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Fr. Thorpus at Whitehall about how the Windsor resolutions failed

An analysis which I heard from my delegation, which

seems accurate to me, is that normally the moderates

in the middle vote with the left wing progressives

against the right wing orthodox. In this resolution,

however, the ends were played against the middle.

Neither the progressive left wing nor the orthodox

right wanted fudge: both have called for clarity one

way or the other. It was the moderates who wanted to

apologize without apologizing, to have their cake and

a chance, if the cards were skillfully played, to eat

it too. But they lost.

{Read it all}

Despite the fact that I wanted the Episcopal Church to comply with Windsor and remain in the Anglican Communion, I’m thankful that people are at least seeking honesty–honesty in being wrong is better than lying about what one will or will not do in order to pacify others.

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