cjbanning: (Default)
 What is the function of the historic episcopate in the 21st century?

One assumes that the historic episcopate holds a function and purpose beyond the simple passing of apostolic authority from one generation to the next. (Or, to put it another way, that this apostolic authority needs to be actually constitutive of something.) To reply that its function lies in the preservation of doctrine seems problematic insofar as there presently seems to be as much diversity of opinion within the historic episcopate (which after all contains both John Shelby Spong and Benedict XVI) as there is outside it.

My intuition is that the historic episcopate acts as an extraordinary (there's a pun in there somewhere) sign to the world of the unity and catholicity of the Church of Christ. But how and why this is so I find myself, for the moment, unable to fully articulate. 

cjbanning: (Palm Sunday)
Fr. Dan Dunlap, writing at Catholic in the Third Millenium, nicely puts his finger on the way that both conservative and liberal approaches to the historicity of Scripture manage to miss the point completely:
[A]cademic honesty compels the scholar to admit that "proving" the historicity of the mythos is impossible. But then it should be noted that disproving the historicity of the mythos is just as certainly impossible (a fact that the likes of John Shelby Spong and company disingenuously dismiss). Simply put, the mythos – the very object of the Church's faith – is not subject to historical or scientific investigation (either in proof or disproof). Rather it transcends critical inquiry, while, paradoxically, benefiting in the many new ways of understanding the Faith that may thus emerge from such investigation into the biblical milieu itself.

[. . .]

The Christian Faith is not a belief in the historicity of the resurrection (as an end in itself), but rather faith in the resurrected Christ; it is not a belief in the historicity of the virgin birth (as an end in itself), but rather faith in the Christ who was born of a Virgin.
While Fr. Dan is, in my opinion, quite too quick to expel from the big tent of Christianity those who don't adhere to the doctrines that he and I see as central (e.g., the Trinity), he has an interesting view (which I can't disagree with) on how the apostolic churches (Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, some parts of Lutheranism, etc.)  have a "unique and peculiar calling within the kingdom of God to preserve and guard what can be termed the 'Great Story' or 'True Myth' (in Lewis' sense)." I in particular agree that it's not always clear how the process of demythologization inherent in the type of liberal historicism represented by "the likes of John Shelby Spong and company" serves to achieve this aim, which in many ways is the argument I make in my post Why the Quest for the Historical Jesus is a Spiritual Dead-End. (All through college I was convinced, albeit falsely, that Protestantism simply had no place for any viewpoint other than either this sort of liberal historicism or else biblical literalism.)

Of course, a large part of why this resonates with me is my peculiar mix of a relatively low view of Scripture (without disagreeing that the Bible contains all that is necessary to salvation, whatever that means) and my relatively high ecclesiology, which makes me committed first and foremost to what Fr. Dan calls "the mythos to which the early fathers provided normative articulation in ancient creedal and doxological symbols that are with us to the present day -- preserved in the liturgies of the great apostolic churches."
cjbanning: (Trinity)
1. Godhead. The apophatic denial of God's non-existence.
2. Trinity. God is one Being in three Persons.
3. Chalcedonian Christology. Hypostatic union: Jesus Christ is two natures, one human and one divine, united into one Person.
4. Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience as complementary sources of revelation.
5. The Sacraments. The seven sacraments (baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation, ordination, marriage, healing) are the means of sanctifying grace, rites in which God is uniquely active, visible signs of an invisible reality.
6. Ex opere operato. The seven sacraments are efficacious in and of themselves, by the very fact of the actions’ being performed, because Christ is at work in them in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies.
7. Baptismal Regeneration. The salvation of baptized persons (including those baptized by blood or desire, as well as by water) is uniquely mediated through the sacrament.
8. Real Presence. Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist. (Radical transignification.)
9. Perseverance of Eucharistic Presence. Real Presence is not dependent on the act of drinking or eating and continues in the consecrated hosts beyond the celebration of the Eucharist.
10. Adorableness of the Eucharist. Worship may be properly rendered to the Blessed Sacrament.
11. One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
12. Apostolic Succession. The spiritual authority placed on the apostles by Christ is passed through history via the institutional rites of the Church, i.e. the consecration of bishops. The one Church of Christ subsists in the apostolic churches as governed by the historic episcopate.
13. Ordained Presbyterate. God specially calls some people (of all genders, races, and sexualities) to undergo the sacrament of ordination; to represent Christ and the Church of Christ, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God.
14. Free Will. God has willed that human persons remain under the control of their own decisions. For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within a human being.
15. Sin. The existence of corporate evil—sexism and racism, transphobia and homophobia; poverty and hunger; totalitarianism and fascism—such that human freedom is curtailed and diminished.
16. Sola gratia. Since human freedom has been damaged by sin, only by the aid of God's grace can the Church bring the relationship between God and human beings into full flower.
17. Resistability of Grace. The free wills of human beings may cooperate with God so as to prepare and dispose themselves for the attainment of salvation; human wills can also refuse complying, if they please.
18. Universal Potential for Redemption. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are for the benefit of all humankind, not just an elect.
19. Kingdom of Heaven. Through grace, humans are called to use their free will to pray for peace, fight for justice, and build God’s Kin(g)dom on Earth.
20. Intercession of Saints. It is proper to pray to the Saints and ask for their intercessions.
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"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

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