Category : Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the First Book of Common Prayer

Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, did restore the language of the people in the prayers of thy Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Church History

Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke on the Surprises of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

From there:

And we would therefore do well to remind ourselves that all our planning and all our strategising is of little avail if we do not also place ourselves at the disposal of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal Leo Suenens, one of the great Roman Catholic proponents of the modern charismatic movement memorably commented that he would have liked to add a phrase to the creeds. Not only do we believe in the Holy Spirit, he suggested, but we should also express belief in ‘the surprises of the Holy Spirit’. I might perhaps suggest an addition to Cardinal Suenens’ phrase. We should believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit, and our belief should be as much in the surprises of the Holy Spirit that are unwelcome, as in those surprises that we might welcome! In the Church of Ireland, we are not keenly attuned to the possibility of surprises, not even welcome surprises. But if we truly believe in the Holy Spirit, we must believe in surprises, and certainly General Synod and our participation in this Synod can never be all about us, but rather centred and focussed on the glory of God

(and, you guessed it–also quoted in the morning sermon)

Posted in Church History, Church of Ireland, Pentecost, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Charles H Spurgeon on Pentecost–‘How absolutely necessary is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit!’

How absolutely necessary is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit! It is not possible for us to promote the glory of God or to bless the souls of men, unless the Holy Ghost shall be in us and with us. Those who were assembled on that memorable day of Pentecost, were all men of prayer and faith; but even these precious gifts are only available when the celestial fire sets them on a blaze. They were all men of experience; most of them had been preachers of the Word and workers of miracles; they had endured trials and troubles in company with their Lord, and had been with him in his temptation. Yet even experienced Christians, without the Spirit of God, are weak as water. Among them were the apostles and the seventy evangelists, and with them were those honoured women in whose houses the Lord had often been entertained, and who had ministered to him of their substance; yet even these favoured and honoured saints can do nothing without the breath of God the Holy Ghost. Apostles and evangelists dare not even attempt anything alone; they must tarry at Jerusalem till power be given them from on high. It was not a want of education; they had been for three years in the college of Christ, with perfect wisdom as their tutor, matchless eloquence as their instructor, and immaculate perfection as their example; yet they must not venture to open their mouths to testify of the mystery of Jesus, until the anointing Spirit has come with blessed unction from above. Surely, my brethren, if so it was with them, much more must it be the case with us.

–From a sermon in 1863, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Church History, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Dunstan

O God of truth and beauty, who didst richly endow thy Bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we beseech thee, to see in thee the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Diocese of South Carolina Canon Jim Lewis’ letter about Yesterday’s Supreme Court Filing

From there:

Dear Friends,

Today, the Diocese of South Carolina filed a Reply Brief with the U.S. Supreme Courtin response to last week’s Brief in Opposition by TEC.  The Reply succinctly addresses each of TEC’s legal objections to our Petition for Certiorari by the Court and reinforces the appropriateness of their granting review.

The Reply demonstrates that:

1. The State Court ruling does NOT rely strictly upon state law and precedent.
2. Four of the five justices in their opinions demonstrate their reliance upon the “hybrid” approach to neutral principles of law to reach their conclusion.
3. The TEC brief actually affirms the split in the lower courts on this issue, further reinforcing the need for the U.S. Supreme Court to grant our Petition.

The conclusive statement from the Argument is an apt summary.  “Respondents’ remaining arguments against certiorari all lack merit.  Four decades after Jones, the time has come for this Court to bring order out of chaos and resolve the meaning of  the “neutral principles” approach to church property disputes.”

This filing represents the final step before our case will be scheduled for Conference by the Court.  We anticipate that will come in the next several weeks, with a decision on our Petition soon thereafter.

As we now move to the conclusion of this critical process, I would encourage the intentional prayers of you and your parish for a timely conference, a favorable review and the opportunity to argue our case before the court in full.  And continue to pray God’s grace for our legal counsel, in the midst of the many demands of this litigation, to argue effectively in the defense of this Diocese and its congregations.

Easter blessings,

(The Rev.) Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Sudan

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plenteous harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan

Food for Thought from CS Lewis–‘Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture’

“Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted—i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone.You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep on looking at it.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3

Posted in Church History, Theology

In the Diocese of SC Supreme Court Case–The Diocese has now filed its response to TEC and the new TEC Diocese

You can find the full 17 page pdf here–read it carefully and read it all. Please do continue to note that you can follow all the documents as they become available there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, State Government

(1st Things) Robert Wilken–The Christian Intellectual Tradition

The first question, then, that a Christian intellectual should ask is not “what should be believed” or “what should one think,” but “ whom should we trust?” Augustine understood this well, and in his early apologetic work, On True Religion, he links the appeal to reason with trust in the community and authority. Our notion of authority is so attenuated that it may be useful to look a bit more closely at what Augustine means by authority. For us, authority is linked to offices and institutions, to those who hold jurisdiction, hence to notions of power. We speak of submitting to authority or of obeying authority, and assume that authority has to do with the will, not with the understanding.

Yet there is another sense of authority that traces its source to the auctor in auctoritas. Sometimes translated “author,” auctor can designate a magistrate, writer, witness, someone who is worthy of trust, a guarantor who attests to the truth of a statement, one who teaches or advises. Authority in this view has to do with trustworthiness, with the confidence a teacher earns through teaching with truthfulness, if you will. To say we need authority is much the same as saying we need teachers, or to use my earlier term, that we need to become apprentices.

Augustine put it this way in On True Religion: “Authority invites trust and prepares human beings for reason. Reason leads to understanding and knowledge. But reason is not entirely absent from authority, for we have got to consider whom we have to believe . . . — In the Library of Christian Classics translation of this passage, the first words are rendered: “Authority demands belief.” Translated in this way, especially the term “demand,” the sentence is misleading. For Augustine is not thinking of an authority that “demands” or commands or coerces (terms that require an act of will), but of a truth that engenders confidence because of who it is that tells it to us.

Authority resides in a person who by actions as well as words invites trust and confidence. Augustine’s model for authority is the relation of a teacher to a student, a master to a disciple, not a magistrate to a subject. The student’s trust is won not simply by words but also by actions, by the kind of person the teacher is—in short, by character. When Gregory Thaumaturgus, a young man from Asia Minor, went to Caesarea in Palestine to study with Origen, the greatest intellectual of his day, he said that he did so because he wanted to have “fellowship” with “that man.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Theology

Eleanor Parker–Christ the Bird and the Play of Hope: An Anglo-Saxon Ascension

Then suddenly a loud clamour
was heard on high: a throng of heaven’s angels,
a brightly shining band, heralds of glory,
came in a company. Our king passed
through the temple roof while they gazed,
they who remained behind the dear one still
in that meeting-place, the chosen thegns.
They saw the Lord ascend on high,
God’s Son from the ground.
Their minds were sorrowful,
hot at heart, mourning in spirit,
because they would no longer see
the dear one beneath the heavens. The celestial heralds
raised up a song, praised the Prince,
extolled the Source of life, rejoiced in the light
which shone from the Saviour’s head.
They saw two bright angels
beautifully gleaming with adornments around the First-begotten,
the glory of kings.

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Church History

Gregory of Nazianzus for his Feast Day–two contrary doctrines on the same subject can’t both be true

From here:

Now, if they who hold such views have authority to meet, your wisdom approved in Christ must see that, inasmuch as we do not approve their views, any permission of assembly granted to them is nothing less than a declaration that their view is thought more true than ours. For if they are permitted to teach their view as godly men, and with all confidence to preach their doctrine, it is manifest that the doctrine of the Church has been condemned, as though the truth were on their side. For nature does not admit of two contrary doctrines on the same subject being both true. How[,] then, could your noble and lofty mind submit to suspend your usual courage in regard to the correction of so great an evil? But even though there is no precedent for such a course, let your inimitable perfection in virtue stand up at a crisis like the present, and teach our most pious emperor that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith.

Posted in Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Gregory of Nazianzus

Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich

Lord God, who in thy compassion didst grant to the Lady Julian many revelations of thy nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek thee above all things, for in giving us thyself thou givest us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

In the Diocese of SC Supreme Court Case–TEC and the new TEC Diocese have now filed their response

You can find the full 41 page pdf here–read it carefully and read it all. Please do continue to note that you can follow all the documents as they become available there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Patheos) Philip Jenkins–Making Monks, Forming Souls

I have been reading an important new book called Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity: Cognition and Discipline (Cambridge University Press, 2017). This is by my former colleague Paul Dilley, an excellent scholar whose work I have discussed in the past. The book is important because of its Egyptian setting, using many texts that are only available to those scholars with a knowledge of Coptic, besides the familiar Greek. Egypt is so critical to the making of early Christianity, right up through the sixth and seventh centuries and beyond, but our standard Western emphasis often means that this is underplayed. Also, given the central importance of monasticism through much of Christian history, Dilley’s book addresses a central if under-explored question: just how did people become monks? Not just how did they sign on to the profession, but how did they discover and absorb the lifestyle, its particular ways, assumptions and ideologies? How did they learn to live its world?

This would be a fine book if it just offered a straightforward historical analysis, but it is much more daring that that, and approaches its subject from the field of cognitive studies. Dilley describes such key cognitive disciplines as “meditation on scripture, the fear of God, and prayer.” He also discusses  “various rituals distinctive to communal monasticism, including entrance procedures, the commemoration of founders, and collective repentance.” That emphasis on ritual behavior fits so well with what we know about religious practices across the faith spectrum.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church History