Daily Archives: October 6, 2017

(Fr. Lawrence Farley) The Deep Melancholy of David Bentley Hart

What is most troubling about Hart’s view of the New Testament is that he asserts that the Church from the early third century has consistently misread and misunderstood its own Scriptures (“Clement of Alexandria may have been the first”), so that the error thus has gone on “throughout Christian history”. No wonder Hart was deeply melancholy. This is an astonishing charge for an Orthodox to make, and one that effectively sets at naught the reliability of the exegesis of the Fathers. If Clement and others throughout Christian history “apply a reassuring gloss to the raw rhetoric of Scripture” so that (for example) not even Chrysostom’s counsel to his congregation may be received as a reliable guide, then the Fathers’ guidance about pretty much anything in the Bible is worthless. If they can miss an obvious thing like the New Testament’s teaching that wealth is an intrinsic evil and Christians must therefore be communalists, why trust them about such complex matters as Christology? Hart says that the only real Christians were the Desert Fathers, and yet these men never ever said that Christians living in the world with property were not real Christians. That charge was left to Hart to make. Hart therefore stands in a long line of people telling the Church that its doctrine and practice throughout the centuries were wrong, and that only now by listening to them could the Church get it right. In the sixteenth century, such people were the radical Protestants. Hart seems to be of one spirit with them.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Gafcon responds to the 2017 Partial Primates Meeting–Can Two Walk Together Unless They Are Agreed?

The Primates’ Meeting has been portrayed as “good disagreement” over issues of sexuality, and that the irreconcilable theological convictions underlying the different positions can be set aside for the sake of institutional unity. But this does not reflect the reality. We are not “walking together.”[3]

Of most significance is the fact that several primates, including the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Gafcon Primates’ Council have refused to attend the meeting. In the words of Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, “Attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity.”[4]

The consciences of others led them to attend, to make a robust defence of the Gospel. They bore faithful witness to the authority of Scripture’s unchanging teaching on marriage and human relationships. Unfortunately, the primates’ call to repentance was not heeded by those who have sought to redefine marriage. Without repentance there can be no reconciliation.

Again we have seen the “inability of existing Communion instruments to discern truth and error and take binding ecclesiastical action. The instruments have again been found wanting in their ability to discipline those leaders who have abandoned the biblical and historic faith.”[5] The rejection of Scripture and the changes in pastoral practice which have been initiated by The Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and the Scottish Episcopal Church have torn the fabric of the Communion. For this reason we are grateful for those primates who have consecrated a missionary bishop to care for the faithful in Scotland. There is no moral equivalence between border crossing, which arises, “from a deep concern for the welfare of Anglicans in the face of innovation”, and the innovations themselves (Dar es Salaam Communique 2007).

Read it all.

Posted in Global South Churches & Primates, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017

(TLC) Kirk Petersen– in Search of Growth in the Episcopal Church

One significant cause of the decline in Episcopal attendance in recent years is, of course, the schism that began after the General Convention of 2003 consented to the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a relationship, as Bishop of New Hampshire.

In the following decade, five diocesan conventions voted to leave the Episcopal Church: Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, South Carolina, and San Joaquin. Some congregations in each diocese remained with the Episcopal Church, effectively splitting each diocese. The small remnant of the Diocese of Quincy was absorbed by the Diocese of Chicago; ASA in the other four dioceses all declined 70 to 80 percent in the past decade, by far the worst declines in the church. (These statistics, drawn from the parochial reports filed by every Episcopal church, are available from the Research and Statistics section of episcopalchurch.org.)

The departures had a dramatic effect in those dioceses, and individual parishes elsewhere in the country have also left the Episcopal Church. Most of the departing dioceses and congregations have joined the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), founded in 2009. But nationally, ACNA is dwarfed by the Episcopal Church. Based on reports from the two churches, ACNA had 111,853 members, while the Episcopal Church was 16 times larger, with 1,779,335 baptized members.

Still, ACNA membership is growing, while Episcopal numbers are declining. With declining attendance comes declining revenues. The church does not exist for the purpose of making money, of course — but eventually money has a kind of veto power. If a church fails to pay the electric bill for enough months in a row, the lights will be turned off.

Real estate poses a particular problem for cash-strapped congregations and dioceses.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Data

(WSJ) Mary Sherry–I Can’t Understand a Word My Priest Says

Now grown up, those pagan babies have cellphones, careers, Twitter accounts and many trappings of modern life. Some have become priests and nuns after learning English as the language of commerce in their native lands. Many see opportunities for ministry in the U.S. Some come as political refugees; others find salaries are higher here, enabling them to send money home to support their families. Still others find that life in the U.S. is just more comfortable. Most see the U.S. as spiritually needy—so privileged that its people no longer crave sacramental care.

No matter what motivates them, opportunity knocks loudly. They’re welcomed especially by U.S. bishops eager to avoid closing parishes for lack of clergy. That the U.S., once a rich source of missionaries, has become mission territory in less than 50 years is amazing.

The cultural differences can be unsettling. Some of these missionaries are unsparing in their criticism of matters like street-dress altar-server apparel, the custom in many American parishes. Add this to hard-to-comprehend English, and it’s no wonder the people in the pews get annoyed and check their emails—or start shopping for another parish.

Yet there can be a bright side to these cultural differences. Our pastor told us during a recent Friday Mass that a new priest from India would be coming to learn the cultural ropes for a few weeks before moving on to another assignment. He urged us to welcome the new priest at the weekend Masses with small gifts—some flowers or even cookies. We’d never done this with an American priest, but apparently it is an Indian tradition.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., India, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton ‘Anglican Communion News Service smears GAFCON and manipulates Archbishop of Canterbury’

When Canon [Andrew] Gross was asked by a journalist to comment on the matter of Bishop Michael Curry presiding at Evensong, the context was not linked to the Las Vegas shooting. Only later, in fact, was it learned that the Primates had asked Bishop Curry to lead them in prayer for Las Vegas, but he had not presided over anything, as Canon Gross had been led to believe.

When Gavin Drake (who, you must remember, is editor of the Anglican Communion News Service) put his question to the Archbishop of Canterbury (his ultimate boss), it was not a casual query to elicit grace and enlightenment, but a pointed attempt to score a hit against GAFCON. It was not only premeditated slander wholly lacking in Christian virtue and professional journalistic integrity, but an egregious manipulation to elicit outrage from the Archbishop of Canterbury who was asked to respond to a false accusation that GAFCON had said it was wrong for Bishop Curry to lead prayers in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.

They had said no such thing.

The Rev’d Canon Andrew Gross had never said any such thing.

Apologies to him, once again, for simply trusting the ACNS story, which was, in fact, nothing but Anglican fake news.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Primates, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017

(CEN) Primates at the partial Anglican Primates Meeting ‘should be honest about divisions,’ says Gafcon

A Gafcon spokesman told The Church of England Newspaper:“If trust in the Communion is to begin to be restored, the sanctions need to be deeper, wider, and credible. Provinces that have torn the fabric of the Communion by redefining marriage have chosen to walk apart,” a spokesman said.

“They should not receive Lambeth 2020 invitations. The Episcopal Church made their decision over a decade ago, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have joined them. They are walking in the opposite direction. We aren’t walking together. We should be honest about those facts….”

Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, the Very Rev Kevin Holdsworth, said this week: “When people talk about the Primates issuing sanctions, they have forgotten that the meeting is not a disciplinary body but is there to allow the Primates to listen to one another.

“The Scottish Episcopal Church decided to stay together over same-sex nuptials and the Communion could decide to do exactly the same,” he said.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

George Carey–What is our Debt to William Tyndale?

I hold in my hands my iphone. Perhaps you have one too. The Apple industry of computers and phones has changed our world out of all recognition. What does this small gadget have in common with the book in my right hand- which is a Bible? There is a direct connection; they are both things that have changed the world. The legendary tale is told of Steve Jobs saying to John Sculley who was at Pepsi Cola and, as you may know, Jobs wanted Sculley to join his firm: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sayings rarely get better than that!

Apple and Microsoft combined have done exactly that but William Tyndale, whom we celebrate today, eclipses both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History

Glen Scrivener–Today we remember the martyrdom of William Tyndale

Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:

“atonement”

“scapegoat”

“Jehovah”

“mercy seat”

“Passover”

And scores of his phrases have proved impossible to better in the last five centuries”¦

“Let there be light”

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”

Wonderful stuff–make sure to read it all.

Posted in Church History, Language, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale


Almighty God, who didst plant in the heart of thy servants William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and didst endow them with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us, we pray thee, thy saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Almighty God, who hast taught us that they who mourn shall be comforted; grant that in all our grief we may turn to thee; and, because our need is beyond the help of men, grant us the peace of thy consolation and the joy of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; that men may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. He has broken my strength in mid-course; he has shortened my days. “O my God,” I say, “take me not hence in the midst of my days, thou whose years endure throughout all generations!” Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:18-27 (emphasis mine)

Posted in Theology: Scripture