Category : Sacramental Theology

(TLC Covenant) Eugene Schlesinger–Things Fall Apart: Musings on TEC and Eucharistic Hospitality

There is a movement afoot in the Episcopal Church to remove our restriction that only the baptized receive Communion. In my new location, it seems to be diocesan policy not only to allow the unbaptized to commune, but to invite them explicitly to do so. Every parish my family has visited in the diocese has made it very clear that absolutely everyone is invited to the altar for Communion. I have found this grating, theologically. It disregards the proper sequence of initiation. It undercuts the long-standing historical practice of Christian churches. It renders incoherent any sort of claim to have a baptismal ecclesiology. Most important, it downgrades the central role of commitment to Jesus Christ and a life of discipleship to something optional. I’d heard of such things from afar, and now my eyes have seen them.

Recently, our family ventured a bit further north, into the Diocese of California, to a parish where the logic of Communion without baptism is being carried to its logical conclusion, which is also a reductio ad absurdum. The parish we visited did much well: the hymnody and chant were excellent; the liturgy, while using expansive language, remained fairly grounded in traditional forms. Then we reached the fraction anthem.

After a verse about Christ giving himself to his beloved in the bread, we turned a corner in which claims about breaking this bread with Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims were articulated. While I am confident that the intention behind these words was to be open and inclusive, to express solidarity among people of faith, its effect was to undo any sort of claims about Christ’s uniqueness or the necessity for salvation, as well as to colonize these other religious traditions, rather than respecting them in their diversity.[1]

The canons of the Episcopal Church are clear: no unbaptized person is eligible to receive Holy Communion at our altars (I.17.7). This creates a rather interesting contrast in the current church.

Having updated our canons (but not our doctrine, as set forth in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) to make marriage gender-neutral, there is a movement afoot to bring Communion Partner bishops into line, so that the trial rites for marriage are celebrated in all jurisdictions. At General Convention, Resolution 2018-B012 provided a means for doing this while also respecting the consciences, teaching office, and liturgical presidency of bishops within their dioceses. William Love, the Bishop of Albany, has caused a furorwith his refusal to comply with the provisions of B012, prompting suggestions that Title IV charges be brought against him.[2] Leaving to the side the question of the precise canonical force of a resolution passed by General Convention, and, hence, the applicability of disciplinary charges, we must acknowledge that this outcry is in some tension with other realities in our church….

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

He attended last year’s deadly Charlottesville rally. Then a black pastor changed his life.

One year ago, Ken Parker attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has made a significant transformation after accepting an invitation to a black church. His story is featured in part in the Emmy-nominated Fuuse film ‘White Right: Meeting the Enemy’ on Netflix.

You need to take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Soteriology

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Ecclesiology, Eucharist

(CNA) Marriage and Communion: Roman Catholic Norms address interchurch couples

For the universal church and in the guidelines offered by different bishops’ conferences distinctions are made between the faithful of the Orthodox churches and the faithful of the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orthodox sacraments and welcomes members of the Orthodox churches to receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church, although it cautions that their Orthodox pastors and bishops might object.

The U.S. bishops’ brief guidelines, published in 1996, said, “Members of the Orthodox churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these churches.”

For Anglicans and Protestants, the situation is more complicated and Catholic church law requires that they “manifest Catholic faith in this sacrament,” as the directory phrased it.

Shared faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not unlikely, however, because it formally has been affirmed over the course of more than 50 years of formal theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

Therefore, the norms published by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, in 1999 stated, “Episcopalians and Lutherans can be presumed to believe in the real presence. For members of other communions there may be need for some further discussion concerning their belief in the Eucharist.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology

(CT) Peter Leithart–Taste and See That the Lord’s Supper Is Good

Evangelicals need to thicken our theology of the Lord’s Supper, first by drawing more of the Bible into the discussion of the Supper, and second by drawing more of the Supper into discussion of the Supper.

Even a fine recent treatment of Reformed sacramental theology, Todd Billings’s Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, is still too thin on both counts. Billings does discuss the key New Testament passages—the institution narratives, Jesus’ resurrection meals, 1 Corinthians 10-11—and makes passing references to Passover and other Old Testament passages, meals, and festivals. But the richness of Old Testament theology still feels lacking. Billings observes that Paul sees manna as a type of the church’s covenant meal, but he doesn’t follow up the clue. If manna is a type, might there be others?

Many examine the Supper through a “zoom lens,” focusing narrowly on the most disputed point in historic debates—the metaphysics of the bread and wine. Much to his credit, Billings pulls back the camera to give us a wider view. In several “congregational snapshots,” he reminds us that the Supper involves people gathered to say and do, eat and drink. He rightly shows that a theology of the Supper must be integrated with the theology of the church.

But we need an even wider angle. Communion bread doesn’t fall from heaven. Wine doesn’t come tricklin’ down the rock. As one Eucharistic prayer puts it, the bread and wine are “fruit of the earth and the work of human hands.” Bread and wine represent nature transformed into culture by human action. A thick theology of the Supper needs to broaden beyond the theology of the church into a theology of culture. So, I offer a suggestive, not definitive, picture of what a thicker theology of the Supper might look like—a pencil drawing, not a portrait.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Eucharist, Holy Week, Sacramental Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Synod of SE Asia is in impaired Communion with Scottish Episcopal Church, Recognizes ACNA “as an Ecclesiastical Province in its own right”

Noting the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church on 8 June 2017 to change its doctrine of marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages and further to amend its Canons to allow for the rite of blessing of same-sex marriages, which is a contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998; and

Recalling that as a consequence of the then Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) proceeding with the consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, in contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declared in 2003 that it was in a state of impaired communion with ECUSA (now known as The Episcopal Church)

Now it is hereby resolved,

That the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declares itself to be in a state of impaired communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church with immediate effect….

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church in South East Asia, Theology

(AI) A Pastoral Letter from the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church on women’s order

The bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) met at Church of Holy Communion, Dallas, Texas on October 2, 2017, for prayer, fellowship, planning for the renewal and planting of Reformed Episcopal parishes, and discussion of other matters concerning the church. Reformed Episcopal bishops from Canada, England, Croatia, Germany, and Brazil were present by teleconference call.

Among the topics discussed was the recent statement issued by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), regarding the ordination of women. This statement arose from the conclave held in Victoria, British Columbia, September 5-7, 2017, and represents the first attempt by the ACNA College of Bishops, since the completion of the study by the Task Force on Holy Orders, to address the differing positions on this issue among the dioceses of the ACNA.

Because the Reformed Episcopal bishops in North America are members of the ACNA College of Bishops, the release of the statement has prompted questions among REC clergy and laity about the impact it may have on the Reformed Episcopal Church’s understanding of Holy Orders. Consequently, the bishops have deemed it wise to issue a pastoral letter to the REC family of churches, to clarify our position and allay any fears about the direction of our church.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology

The ACNA College of Bishops Statement on the Ordination of Women

In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.

Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Church Discipline / Ordination Standards, Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, Women

(EC) George Clifford–The 1979 Book of Common Prayer needs revision–is it time for an electronic prayer book?

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer badly needs revision:

It is sexist, e.g., in its presumption that clergy and God are male;
It is exclusionary, e.g., the marriage rite is only for heterosexual couples;
It is limited, as evidenced by the proliferation and popularity of authorized alternative liturgies.
Others may add additional theological and liturgical reasons to that list.

[Also] printing a revised Book of Common Prayer is inadvisable [for the following reasons]….

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Advent, Christology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Uncategorized

(Church of England) What is the role of a Godparent?

Godparents are among the most important people at a christening, who make big promises to encourage their godchild to grow in faith and commit to helping them understand how to live their life in a Christian way.

Alongside your godchild’s parents, you will

Give your time to your godchild to talk to about the bigger questions of life – questions about hope, faith and love.
Model and encourage them to develop Christian values – being kind and compassionate towards others, being generous towards others in need with time or money and standing against things in the world that cause injustice and suffering.

Pray for your godchild through the ups and downs of their life and their faith journey….

Read it all.

Posted in Baptism, Children, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Sacramental Theology

(CNA) An Interview with Robert Spaemann on Amoris Laetitia

What then is Pope John Paul II’s exhortation about?

John Paul II explains human sexuality as a “real symbol for the giving of the whole person,” and namely, “without every temporal or other limitation.” He thus formulates very clearly in article 84 that remarried divorcés must refrain from sex if they want to go to communion. A change in the practice of the administration of the sacraments would therefore be no “further development of Familiaris consortio,” as Cardinal Kasper said, but rather a breach in her essential anthropological and theological teaching on marriage and human sexuality. The Church has no authority, without prior conversion, to approve disordered sexual relationships through the administration of the sacraments, thereby anticipating God’s mercy – regardless of how these situations are to be judged on a human and moral level. The door here ”“ as with the ordination of women to the priesthood ”“ is closed.

Read it all from last year, as it is still deeply relevant.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jeffrey Miller's 2017 Sermon on the Baptism of Jesus: The King will Never Leave

You can listen directly here or download it there. Watch for a very important reference to an incident in London in WW II.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Baptism of Jesus from the Church of South India

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to take the baptism of sinful men, and wast forthwith declared to be the Son of God: Grant that we who have been baptized into thee may rejoice to be the sons of God, and servants of all; for thy name’s sake, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest ever one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Sacramental Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Baptism of Jesus from the Scottish Prayer Book

Almighty God, who at the baptism of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan didst manifest his glorious Godhead: Grant, we beseech thee, that the brightness of his presence may shine in our hearts, and his glory be set forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Sacramental Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture