cjbanning: (The Bishop)
I'm hard at work on my post(s) about the affinity between Wittgensteinian metaethics and progressive Christian moral theology, but in the meantime I'd like to direct you to the post From Rome to Canterbury: My Journey to Anglicanism by Thomas Bradshaw over at The Empty Nave. This past Sunday--which was, of course the Feast of Pentecost--I had the pleasure and honor of witnessing Thomas make a mature public affirmation of his faith and commitment to the responsibilities of his baptism and receive the laying on hands by the Rt. Rev. Frederick Borsch. I'm proud and pleased to have been (in his words)
an inclusive, wise lay-minister and vestry member, who would later become a good friend--that pushed me to study hard and nourished my hunger of a greater theological education than what was available for me.
I should also note that some eleven hundred miles away on that same day, another dear friend of mine--Ruth Ellen of Patron of Poets, Scholars, and Nuns--was also receiving the sacrament of confirmation.

As I witnessed the confirmation of Thomas and the rest of his confirmation class, I of course remembered my own confirmation by George Councell (our diocesan bishop) in June 2008, but was also struck by the form used for the reception of candidates who have already been confirmed in another denomination:
N., we recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you. Amen.
I have frequently noted that one of the things I like about Anglicanism is that it is very clear as to the distinction between the Communion and the catholic Church, with the former only being a branch of the latter. Thomas was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church and confirmed in the Episcopal Church; Ruth Ellen was baptized in the United Church of Christ and confirmed in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I myself received both my baptism and my confirmation in the Episcopal Church. But we are all members of the same, one Church:
There is one Body and one Spirit, just as you were called into one Hope when you were called. There is one Savior, one faith, one baptism, one God and creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all. (Ephesians 4:4-5)
Pentecost is often called "the birthday of the Church." As I've mentioned before, I find this somewhat misleading, and prefer to think of it instead as a preliminary coming of age, one of many different milestones of maturation from the teachings of the prophets to the confession of Peter to the resurrection at Easter to the ascension into heaven to the outpouring of the Spirt on Pentecost to the great ecumenical councils and beyond all the way to the eventual instantiation of the Kindom of Heaven in its fullness. One of the authorized collects for the feast of Pentecost states that on that day God "opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of [the] Holy Spirit," the other that God "taught the hearts of [God's] faithful people by sending to them the light of [the] Holy Spirit."

As an Anglo-Catholic, I believe that the Church subsists in the apostolic churches as governed by the historic episcopate, but also that the elements of truth and sanctification found outside those structures compel towards catholic unity under apostolic authority. I'm reminded of this quote from Fr. Richard P. McBrien's 101 Questions and Answers on the Church, which I previously quoted in my essay History and Christ:
[Jesus Christ] is the great sacrament of our encounter with God and God's with us. The Church, in turn, is the sacrament of our encounter with Christ and of Christ's with us. And the seven sacraments, in their turn, are sacraments of our encounter with the Church and of the Church's with us. Indeed, the other members of the Church are sacraments of encounter for us and we for them because, in the Christian scheme of things, we experience and manifest the love of God through love of neighbor.
On this past Saturday--the day before Pentecost, and the penultimate day of Easter--my family buried my paternal grandfather. One of my duties consisted of picking some of the readings to be used at his funeral mass at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. I chose Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-3:9 as the Hebrew Scripture reading and Acts 10:34-48 as the New Testament reading. I chose the passage from Acts in part because it is traditional to read from that book in the Easter season, and part of the reason I extended it beyond the suggested reading of 10:34-43 was (beyond the fact that I needed to fiddle with it and I like long readings; my cousin-in-law, who read the Hebrew Scripture reading, which I also extended, was less than thrilled at me) because the following section seemed especially appropriate for the day before Pentecost (as the priest noted in his homily):
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
This is, of course, a story of radical inclusion. We are the Church, but the Church is God's, not ours. We don't get to set the boundaries.

A Response to #GC77

Sunday, 15 July 2012 05:34 am
cjbanning: (Trinity)
As many of you reading this may well already know, the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church happened this past week. And of course, the entire world is talking about how TEC reauthorized use of the 1979 lectionary as an alternative to the Revised Common Lectionary with the permission of one's bishop and reaffirmed the sacrament of baptism as the normative entry to Holy Communion.

Okay, pretty much nobody's talking about those things. But they probably should be. So it goes.

Admittedly, the things everyone is focusing on--those having to do with sex--are pretty important too. D019 and D002 were resolutions which explicitly forbid discrimination against transgender individuals for lay ministry and ordination, respectively. These two resolutions are, to my mind, unmitigated goods. The morning after the House of Bishops passed them, essentially ensuring their passage as it is more conservative than the House of Deputies, I was messaged on OK!Cupid by a trans woman asking about "what [your] christain church thinks about ppl like me???" I was proud to be able to tell her.

I am slightly more conflicted--but only slightly--about the progress on same-sex unions. A049 approved a liturgy to bless same-sex unions. Now, these unions are not marriages, but I think the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music correctly decided a revision of the sacramental marriage rite in the Book of Common Prayer would go beyond the mandate given to them by the 76th General Convention. However, they did propose resolution A050 to create a task force on the study of marriage. They explained their reasoning as follows:
As the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music developed liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships, it faced repeated questions about marriage. What makes a marriage Christian? What is the relationship between the Church’s blessing of a relationship, whether different-gender or same-gender, and a union, “marriage” or otherwise, created by civil law? Is the blessing of a same-gender relationship equivalent to the marriage of a different-gender couple, and if so, should this liturgy be called “marriage”? Because the Church’s understanding of marriage affects so many of its members, the Commission believes it is important to engage in a Churchwide conversation about our theology of marriage.
To me, this makes a lot of sense. I think it is important that we as a church take time out to articulate our theology of sacramental marriage. What is the function of the sacrament? For many people, it is to differentiate between licit and illicit sexual acts, but I actually reject that answer as still far too socially conservative. But if it is not about regulating sex, then what is the purpose?

There are many ways in which the sacrament of marriage is the odd one out among the seven traditional sacraments. (I feel the need here to note in passing that the BCP distinguishes between baptism and eucharist as "sacraments of the gospel" and the other five as "sacramental rites.") I know I'm not the only one to find Mt 22:23-33 strangely in tension with Mt 16:18-19 and Mt 18:18-20. While the understanding of marriage as a sacrament dates back to at least St. Augustine of Hippo, the Church herself did not officiate marriages until the second millenium C.E. Now it is true that anyone can baptize and that within Anglicanism lay persons can hear confessions, so the non-sacerdotal application of the sacraments is hardly without precedent. But it still makes me pause in my considerations of just what the sacrament of marriage is, exactly, and how it works as a means of grace. I look forward to hearing the conclusions of the taskforce in 2015 with excitement.

In any case, I am confident the foundation is being laid for full sacramental marriage to be expanded to same-sex couples within TEC within the next decade. I look forward to that time.

Heresy, Cont'd

Thursday, 25 August 2011 03:48 pm
cjbanning: (Bowed Head)

If there are different brands of Christian orthodoxy, then there are competing standards against which heresy can be judged. I think that's what is going on in a recent post of mine, when I spoke of "the Protestant heresy of the 'perspicuity of the Scriptures,' which implies that the Bible has one true meaning and that any seeming deviations from it (whatever it might be) are in fact distortions." Obviously, in speaking of a "Protestant heresy" I was quite clearly positioning myself as an Anglo-Catholic, and from a broadly Catholic perspective that claim of Protestantism is indeed heretical.

At the same time, I think there's a very real sense in which I gave into a temptation I probably should have resisted. Taken to the extreme, the charge of heresy becomes indistinguishable from simple disagreement with the accuser; as Robin Parry notes, "More often than not those making such claims simply mean that the doctrine is, in their opinion, both wrong and dangerous." Such is the case when Robert Sanders writes about "the ecstatic heresy" in Christianity Today.

Simply put, there is no such thing as the ecstatic heresy. He made it up. Indeed, the claim that Sanders is interested in positioning as heretical--"that God can only be known in feeling, in ways that transcend the language of God or about God"--is actually one that is well-attested throughout Christian tradition, in apophatic theology and Christian mysticism, and developed in both Protestant and Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) theology.

What then, about ++Katharine Jefferts Schori's controversial accusation of heresy made at the 2009 General Convention, which I quoted in my recent sermon preached before the Church of the Ascension in Gloucester City:
Katharine Jefferts Schori, our Presiding Bishop here in the Episcopal Church, has spoken of what she calls “the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being.”

Jefferts Schori later clarified her remarks by noting, “If salvation is understood only as ‘getting right with God’ without considering ‘getting right with all our neighbors,’ then we've got a heresy on our hands.”
As evidenced by her later need to clarify her meaning, Jefforts Schori clearly was not sufficiently clear or politic in her original statements opening the Convention. Now, I agree completely with her insistence that the understanding of salvation she calls out is a theological error, and perhaps would even go farther than her in my own critique of individual salvation. But--especially in the context of a church which, once upon a time, used to have "Protestant" in its title--"heresy" might be going too far. Indeed, I'm not even quite sure what it means for the U.S.-ian primate of a church founded in Philadelphia to speak of the "great Western heresy," as great rhetoric as it may be. Is she positioning herself with the perspective of Eastern Orthodoxy? The Early Church, pre-Westernization?

ETA: Then again, the Wikipedia articles on antinomianism does say "there is wide agreement within Christianity that 'antinomianism' is heresy," but it doesn't provide a citation, and since that term wasn't coined until Martin Luther, it's hard to view that sentiment as an expression of the universal Church. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia is more useful, although not exactly objective or unbiased:
Although the term designating this error came into use only in the sixteenth century, the doctrine itself can be traced in the teaching of the earlier heresies. Certain of the Gnostic sect — possibly, for example, Marcion and his followers, in their antithesis of the Old and New Testament, or the Carpoeratians, in their doctrine of the indifference of good works and their contempt for all human laws — held Antinomian or quasi-Antinomian views. In any case, it is generally understood that Antinomianism was professed by more than one of the Gnostic schools. Several passages of the New Testament writings are quoted in support of the contention that even as early as Apostolic times it was found necessary to single out and combat this heresy in its theoretical or dogmatic as well as in its grosser and practical form. The indignant words of St. Paul in his Epistles to the Romans and to the Ephesians (Romans 3:8, 31; 6:1; Ephesians 5:6), as well as those of St. Peter, the Second Epistle (2 Peter 2:18, 19), seem to lend direct evidence in favour of this view.
cjbanning: (Palm Sunday)
Proper 14 Year A

Psalm 105, 1-6, 16-22, 45b
Romans 10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33

I want to tell you a story about an Italian teenager named Chiara Offreduccio. Chiara was the oldest daughter of a wealthy nobleman, engaged to a man of wealth, destined to a life of pleasure and leisure--until she heard the teachings of a local preacher, who spoke of the need to live a life of simplicity, in voluntary poverty, and to serve the poor. She ran away from home and became an important leader in the new movement started by that local preacher.

The town was Assisi, the year was 1212, and the name of the preacher was Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, better known to us as St. Francis. We recognize the contributions of Chiara to the Church this Thursday, when we celebrate the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi.

The life of St. Clare of Assisi exists as a shining example of the Franciscan values of simplicity and care for the poor. Yet we must remember she was able to live such a life of saintly virtue only by defying those authorities which her 13th-century culture claimed to have rightful power over her: her father, her promised husband. To be accounted righteous under that culture, that Law, it would have been necessary for her to submit to those powers. But Clare knew there was a higher righteousness she was called to obey, one which made no distinction between male and female, leading her to write the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman.

For first-century Jews, the Law by which their “righteousness” would be judged would have been theMosaic Code, the rules set down in the Torah. It’s this desire to be counted as “righteous under the Law” which leads the priest and the Levite to pass by the bloodied man in the street in Jesus’ famous parable, for touching such a man would have rendered them ritually unclean. And thus it was left to a Samaritan--a heretic!--to respond in a neighborly way and render aid.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds that Jewish culture, the culture of the priest and the Levite, that for them too, there was a higher righteousness, a righteousness of the heart, of faith. Now there are many, especially among our siblings-in-Christ of a more Calvinist persuasion, who would have us believe that all St. Paul is saying is that people who “believe in” Christ go to heaven, and people who don’t go to hell. But I think St. Paul’s message is far more beautifully challenging than that.

St. Paul writes: “if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.”

The heart--Greek kardia, from which our English word “cardiology” derives--was not the seat of intellectual activity for St. Paul’s audience. That would have been the mind--the psyche, from which we get “psychology.” Of course, neither was it simply an organ pumping blood through the body. Instead, it represented a person’s will: the volitional faculty that made a human being capable of self-determining, the center and seat of spiritual life. This suggests to me that “believing in one’s heart that God raised Jesus from the dead” is less about the intellectual assent to a checklist of propositions about Jesus of Nazareth than it is about allowing one’s actions to be ruled by the power and compassion of the Risen Christ, allowing ourselves to be transformed by grace--that amazing, unearned gift which is the birthright of every Christian by virtue of our baptism--to make our lives a living testimony to the compassion and power of the Lord alive in us, paving the way for our salvation here on Earth: our right relationship with God and with God’s church.

Similarly, for a Christian in St. Paul’s time to “confess with one’s lips that Jesus is the Lord” was a radical act likely to result in alienation from family and outright persecution from society at large. It was to announce oneself not answerable to the worldly powers which sought to control and oppress, but to the one Lord, Jesus Christ, and Christ’s teachings of love of God and neighbor. Such a Christian would be actively living out their principles in a powerful and dangerous way.

For us in twenty-first century America, in a world of Christian privilege and cultural hegemony where every U.S. President for as long as any of us here can remember has at least nominally been a Christian, where we probably get many of our Christian holy days off of school or work, to merely announce our self-identity as Christians falls far short of what St. Paul had in mind; indeed, in many ways it represents its very antithesis. Katharine Jefferts Schori, our Presiding Bishop here in the Episcopal Church, has spoken of what she calls “the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being.”

Jefferts Schori later clarified her remarks by noting, “If salvation is understood only as ‘getting right with God’ without considering ‘getting right with all our neighbors,’ then we've got a heresy on our hands.”

What it would look like for this parish of the Church of the Ascension, here in Gloucester City, to occupy as radical a place in our twenty-first century culture as did the early Church in the first and second centuries, or the community of Sts. Francis and Clare in the thirteenth? What would it look like for us to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord in a way which lives up to the true depth of St. Paul’s challenge? To proclaim a Jesus who stands in challenge to a twenty-first century “righteousness of Law” which seeks to divide us according to gender or race instead of unite us in one Body, tells us to fear the stranger instead of to love them as neighbor and as sibling, values the worth of a human being by the size of their house, their checkbook, or their pocketbook, instead of extolling the value and dignity of every human person as a beloved child of God Almighty, made in the divine image?

Mike King, a progresssive evangelical author and blogger, has written about two models of evanglelization. The first he calls believe-behave-belong: "If we can just get people to believe the gospel, they will begin behaving properly, and eventually they can belong to our churches." But King suggested that a different model exists, belong-behave-believe, where "evangelism happens quite naturally when we are entrenched in faith communities that are actively caught up in cooperating with God’s compelling work of restoration--restoration between people and God; between people and their own brokenness; between people and other people; and restoration of all creation. As our God invites us into the divine fellowship of the Trinity [King writes], so we should invite people to join us in community.”

Some of you here today are visitors to this church. Some of you have come to see me preach. Some of you have come only to hear me preach. I hope I have communicated to all of you that you are welcome here--today, next Sunday, next month, whenever. Chances are, I haven’t as well as I could have, so let me reiterate it now: the Episcopal Church welcomes you.

Whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever else you go to church, whatever you believe or don’t believe, whatever you have done or may do in the future, the Episcopal Church welcomes you. As slogans go, it’s not particularly profound or sexy, but at its heart it represents the crux of what it means to be Christian. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all.

It’s a challenge that all of us who are baptised members here at the Church of the Ascension--we who are listed in the collective, right on the front of our bulletins, as ministers in this church--need to live up to. We have been sent to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world--and, as Clare’s mentor Francis famously said, to, when necessary, use words--so that others may say of us that verse from the Book of Isaiah which St. Paul quotes: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Living our lives so as to be counted righteous under the Law is safe, comfortable, risk-free. It is not easy to go against the teachings of our parents, our culture, our worldly authorities, the logic of empire which has co-opted much of Christianity. It is tempting to want to play it safe, to not want to leave the safety of our boat. But as our gospel passage this morning demonstrates, to allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear is to sink for sure. It is only by marching ever forward, leaving safety behind us and exposing ourselves to risk, embracing the truly radical option represented by the righteousness of the heart, that we will be empowered to do what the world tells us is impossible.

Amen.
cjbanning: (Default)
This is the second in a series of posts reposting content from "Our Lenten Collage," in which my cell at the time blogged our way through the Lenten season of 2009.

5 March 2009: Going Deep with Scripture )
cjbanning: (Palm Sunday)
“That this Synod aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America, recognize and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican church in North America (ACNA) to remain within the Anglican family; acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.”

http://www.churchnewsireland.org/news/acna-recognized-by-church-of-england-synod/

ETA:
Simply Massing Priest analyses the resolution. "Not only does the motion not affirm ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion, the principles of law (after all, the CofE General Synod is a legislative body with powers delegated from the UK Parliament) suggest that the amended motion explicitly denies that ACNA has standing in the Anglican Communion. [. . .] So, while the resolution nicely acknowledges that the founders of ACNA want to be part of the Anglican Communion, it is actually pretty explicit that they are not." It was, of course, immediately clear to me on reading the resolution that the headline was, if not totally inaccurate, at least strongly misleading.

And Brian Lewis, who was there, characterizes the way the resolution played out as a "decision to reject the call to 'express a desire to be in Communion with ACNA'" in his account, here. "It was hardly surprising however that nobody objected to final amendment, an acknowledgement of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada - indeed I had referred to it myself when calling on synod members to support those who had remained faithful to their church." So apparently CoE does have some sense that encouraging schism is not a good idea.

cjbanning: (Default)
I've just come across this response to the 2009 General Convention (of the Episcopal Church, if that doesn't go without saying) from someone who is (as far as I can tell from his blog) a progressive leader in the emergent church movement:
When did we come so far off the rails that the words “convention,” “legislative,” and “committees” become constitutive of our promulgation of the gospel? My favorite tweet came a couple days ago from a clergywoman (“rev” was part of her Twitter handle!) that simply read, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGH!!!!”

[. . .]

I implore [my Episcopal friends] to look beyond the gay issue. The bigger issue is that they employ a medieval form of church polity strange hybrid of medieval (bishops, dioceses, sextons) and modern (legislation, amendments, committees) polities, which will inevitably fail in this postmodern, wiki-world.
Since Circle of Hope, the church (if I'm even allowed to call it that) I attend on Sunday evenings and am associated with in a myriad of other ways, has a lot in common with the emergent church movement (including what I perceive as its fundamental conservatism), this sort of opinion isn't unfamiliar with it. And at the end of the day, I think it's just a sign of two radically different ecclesiologies held by different portions of the Body of Christ. (Unsurprisingly, I think one is right and one is wrong, and even less surprisingly, I think the one I hold is the right one.)

Admittedly I give myself a huge amount of lattitude in interpreting the Creeds (and I am an Episcopalian because I don't feel I could give myself that much lattitude while remaining intellectually honest within the context of the Roman church), but the Creeds are central to my understanding of who I am as a Christian and what my relationship to and within the mystical Body of Christ is and should be. The Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

In a time when it might seem that everything in our denomination is up for grabs (and I'm not sure that it shouldn't be!), one of the real defining fundamentals of Episcopal practice is what is known as the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I'll pass on that Wikipedia tells us it is
a four-point articulation of Anglican identity, often cited as encapsulating the fundamentals of the Communion's doctrine and as a reference-point for ecumenical discussion with other Christian denominations. The four points are:
1. The Holy Scriptures, as containing all things necessary to salvation;
2. The Creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), as the sufficient statement of Christian faith;
3. The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion;
4. The historic episcopate, locally adapted.
The Church is an institution. Furthermore, it is an institution which, while currently fragmented, strives for unity and catholicity--and every Episcopalian (like every Roman Catholic) prays for the eventual restoration of unity to the Church even as we recognize the deeper, more fundamental unity and catholicity of the Body of Christ can never be broken. While "the Church may have fallen into schism within itself and its several provinces or groups of provinces be out of communion with each other, each may yet be a branch of the one Church of Christ, provided that it continues to hold the faith of the original undivided Church and to maintain the Apostolic Succession of its bishops" (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, as quoted in Wikipedia). Questioning the institutionality of the Church would be, to me, something akin to questioning whether the Second Person of the Trinity is eternally begotten from the First (not that questioning anything should ever be out of bounds!). Most fundamentally, I eschew the individualist impulse of Protestantism which places the piety of the single believer above the sacramental life of the community.

For me, that comes with the whole hierarchy of bishops, priests, deacons, and lay members as a traditional organization which has not yet outlived its usefulness. The episcopate is necessary for apostolic succession (obviously). The diaconate is Biblical. And I affirm the value of the ordained presbyterate (of all races, genders, and sexualities) to act as the representative of Christ (in persona Christi) in the ex opere operato celebration of the sacraments ("magic Jesus hands," etc.).

This does not mean there is not plenty of space to do and be "a new thing" while continuing the work of the historic, institutional Church--especially as our understanding of just what it is the Church is called to do improves over time. An Episcopal parish (or any other liturgical-ish mainline congregation) can and should bear a lot of the hallmarks of an emergent church, very possibly operating out of a store front or a movie theatre, while all the time retaining the value and strength which comes from having as a resource the cathedral which houses the See of a member of the historic episcopate (or non-historic episcopate, for the Methodists relevant Protestant denominations). And of course it doesn't mean that I think the Episcopal Church--or any other church--can survive without an involved, active, and dynamic laity which takes leadership roles. (The founder of the religious order which ran my high school was, after all, the patron saint of lay ministers.) But I don't think there's anyone in any of the liturgical traditions who actually thinks that, and all the confusing voting is precisely in place to facilitate that as best it can. It's deliberately built into the very structure of the church polity in an attempt to distinguish TEC from the Church of England, where power flows (or at least flowed) from the top (the Sovereign) down.

So I think it's much too soon to conclude that TEC's "strange hybrid of medieval and modern polities [. . .] will inevitably fail in this postmodern, wiki-world." I think instead it has room within it to become an even stranger hybrid, to incorporate within itself postmodern strategies of engagement without having to throw out the medieval or the modern. (It's already incorporating those strategies in many cases.) That's what it means to be a broad church, a via media. The end result may look--no, will look--radically different than TEC does today, just as TEC looks pretty darn different than it did a hundred years, or than the C of E did three hundred years ago, or than the RCC did a thousand years ago. But it'll still contain within itself those things which are fundamental to itself as an institution.

Or to put it another way, the cathedrals aren't going anywhere.

No, we're not Congregationalists, and at some point, a beaurocracy becomes necessary. But we're not Congregationalists precisely because we don't think being the Church is something that any congregation (or even any denomination!) is capable of being on its own, or should even try doing its small part outside of communion with the whole. Beaurocracy and hierarchy are an inevitable effect of our creedal attempts to, as part of our catholic tradition, actualize the unity and catholicity and apostolicity of the Body, while being respectful of the diversity of beliefs and practices which exist within our Communion.
cjbanning: (The Bishop)
Reading this article about how a vote on gay clergy promises to create upheavals in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), has got me thinking about issues of church unity, about the many divisions which render the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

Since I'm an Anglo-Catholic sort of guy, who accepts the patristic practices of the invocation and intercession of Saints in all its high church glory,* I wrote a prayer to Mary:
Most Blessed Mary, Virgin Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Mother of His Church which He founded upon the Rock of Saint Peter, we ask of you your intercession before God, that God may eliminate from us all hatred or intolerance which prevents us from coming before God as one Church, sisters and brothers in Christ, united in our constant striving towards justice, peace, and love.

Queen of Heaven, may God grant that all of us, of all races, religions, and creeds; of all genders and sexualities; those in communion with Rome, or Canterbury, or any see of the historical episcopate, and those who are simply members of the priesthood of all believers, may work together towards the building of God's Kingdom, each answering God's call as we hear it, judging not lest we ourselves be judged, one people but many human persons beautiful in our differences, so that we may truly call ourselves the Church Catholic.

Queen of Apostles, may your acceptance of the Divine Will act as an example to us as we seek to live out in this age, as have the Saints of old in ages past, the apostolic commission given to us by Jesus Christ, that His Church may be a light to the entire world.

Queen of Martyrs, your example, before Saint Joseph your betrothed, in Egypt, and before the cross, emboldens us to accept the suffering we may face as consequence for righteousness, to trust that it will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit and made a holy offering before God, and that God will lead us out of the darkness.

We praise you, Holy Mother Mary, as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church established by your Son, led by His Spirit, and devoted in its being to the glory of His Father in Heaven. Amen.
*The Catholic Encyclopedia tells me this isn't necessarily in contravention of the 22nd Article of Religion (none of which are binding to ECUSA members anyway):
Indeed the High Church Anglicans contend that it is not the invocation of saints that is here rejected, but only the "Romish doctrine", i.e. the excesses prevailing at the time and afterwards condemned by the Council of Trent. "In principle there is no question herein between us and any other portion of the Catholic Church. . . . Let not that most ancient custom, common to the Universal Church, as well Greek as Latin, of addressing Angels and Saints in the way we have said, be condemned as impious, or as vain and foolish" [Forbes, Bishop of Brechin (Anglican), "Of the Thirty-nine Articles", p. 422].
cjbanning: (Default)
As you know, I've been thinking about salvation lately, trying to work out a Christian soteriology compatible with my various existential commitments--thus the survey of teaching on the soul a couple posts back. I'm not sure how it fits in yet, but I know that the words of Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, ring true to me:
The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being.
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My Prayer

"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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