Daily Archives: June 3, 2007

Church of England may suggest 'rule book' of beliefs

Church of England bishops have drawn up plans for a “rule book” of beliefs that would expel liberals who refuse to abide by it.

The proposals to introduce Papal-style laws come despite warnings that they could lead to a split in the Church.

The confidential document from the House of Bishops, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, claims that a “narrower definition of Anglican belief” is crucial to prevent the Anglican Communion from becoming embroiled in future disputes over issues such as homosexual clergy.

The paper reveals the determination at the highest levels of the Church to impose powers to quash dissenters, backing a covenant – or set of rules – that would block Anglican clergy from pursuing liberal and potentially divisive policies.

There is no official policy that governs the clergy’s behaviour, but instead each of the world’s 38 Anglican provinces is autonomous.

Read it alll.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Paul Greve: The Episcopal Church needs to band together

My beloved church, the Episcopal Church, has been much in the news of late.

Some of the media focus has been flattering, especially the funeral services for former President Ford held in three Episcopal churches, including Washington National Cathedral. Much of the media focus has not been flattering, portraying a church fraying at the edges over issues of sexuality and the election of a female presiding bishop, the first ever in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is the second-largest Christian denomination with 80 million adherents, second only to the Roman Catholic Church.

Historically, the Church of England emerged from the Reformation as the least-reformed model of Protestant Christianity. Unlike many of the continental European churches, the office of the bishop was preserved as was a focus on the Eucharist in worship along with other sacramental rites. The liturgy was reformed, and the Mass was translated into English. Many of the continental churches’ drastic reforms in worship and church theology were rejected. Because of its uniquely preserved Catholic emphases, the Anglican Communion is considered the “via media”: the middle way between the Protestant and Catholic traditions.

In 1549, one of the greatest of all books in the history of Christendom emerged, the Book of Common Prayer. It is still used today throughout the Anglican Communion as the basis for communal worship services and private daily prayer.

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I would guess Paul Greve is a nice man. I am sure he means well. I share his love for the beauty of liturgy. But this is the kind of article which makes me tear my hair out in frustration and will get us nowhere.

First of all there is the issue of basic errors of fact. The Anglican Communion is NOT the second largest Christian denomination in the world. This would come as news to the over 220 million Eastern Orthodox Christians! Goodness. If you use strict membership as a guide, you can make a case for the Baptists being number 3 at about 100 million worldwide. Nevertheless as a family of churches I believe you can try to argue Anglicanism is number 3–but not number two.

Richard Hooker not only doesn’t discuss the three legged stool, he never mentions it. Augustine? Someone please show me the three legged stool in Augustine! This is historic revisionism at its worst and it is reflected widely, alas, in the leadership of the Episcopal Church..

But the biggest objection to the article is that he never really gets to the meat of why the present crisis is such a big deal. If Anglicanism is a via media between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as he (thank the Lord) rightly says, then it is not a middle way to nowhere, nor is it a middle way between faith and life, or between all sorts of other false polarities which are suggested in a number of recent discussions. The heart of Anglicanism is as Marco Antonio De Dominis rightly said in essentials unity, in non essentials liberty, and in all things charity. But what happens when the ‘“big tent” of Anglicanism that comfortably accommodated a full range of conservative and liberal beliefs’ accommodates disagreements about matters which are not non-essential?

Here is what I said on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer a while back:

MARGARET WARNER: Canon Harmon, why can’t different views of these two issues — that is, whether to bless same-sex unions or allow priests who are in same-sex unions to become bishops — why can’t both be accommodated in the Anglican Communion?

Is this rooted in faith? Is it a question of — well, I don’t want to characterize what Reverend Russell said — but is it more sort of political and cultural? What is the nub of the inability of different views on this issue, these two issues, to coexist?

KENDALL HARMON: Well, the difficulty here is that Anglicans believe in the importance of tolerating differences, but Anglicans also believe in boundaries. Otherwise you can’t have any community to discuss differences in.

And the crucial point to make here is, there’s different kinds of differences. And it’s interesting that this is the topic of debate here, because in the Windsor report this specific subject is addressed. And in one section — it’s paragraph 89 — what they say in there is, in the New Testament, there are certain kinds of differences that actually Christians can’t tolerate, because it’s not part of what it means to be a genuinely Christian community.

Two examples they use are sexual behavior and lawsuits of one Christian against another. And it’s interesting that, in this communique, both lawsuits and sexual behavior are things that the primates are talking about.

So the reason is because there are different kinds of differences, and the majority of the communion sees these differences as not the kind of differences that can be tolerated.

Or as Stephen Neill in his wonderful book Anglicanism says:

So, by 1593 the Church of England had shown plainly that it would not walk in the ways either of Geneva or of Rome. This is the origin of the famous Via Media, the middle way, of the Church of England. But a ”˜middle way’ which means ”˜neither this nor that’ seems a rather negative road. And a middle way which is no more than a perpetual compromise, an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, is not likely to inspire anyone to heroism or to sanctity. Such is the carica­ture of the Anglican position which is the current coin of con­troversialists, and nothing could be further from the truth. Anglicanism is a very positive form of Christian belief; it affirms that it teaches the whole of Catholic faith, free from the distortions, the exaggerations, the over-definitions both of the Protestant left wing and of the right wing of Tridentine Catholicism. Its challenge can be summed up in the phrases, ”˜Show us anything clearly set forth in Holy Scripture that we do not teach, and we will teach it; show us anything in our teaching and practice that is plainly contrary to Holy Scripture, and we will abandon it.’ It was time that this positive nature of Anglicanism should be made plain to the world. It was the good fortune of the Elizabethan Church that it produced the two greatest of the positive controversialists of English ecclesiastical history (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 119 (emphasis added)

Ah, different kinds of differences, there is the rub, but Mr. Greve never even makes this clear. This controversy does involve Scriptural interpretation but it also involves Scriptural authority (the two go hand in hand), it involves how the church makes decisions, it involves marriage, it involves the doctrine of humanness, the doctrine of sin, and even ultimately the shape of the gospel itself. We need better informed discussion that gets at the root of the real issues if we are going to get anywhere–KSH

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Anglican Church of Canada at same-sex crossroads

“We simply don’t know,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the church’s national leader, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison.

Even the head of a group that opposes same-sex blessings is taking nothing for granted, despite a May bishops’ statement that essentially rejected same-sex blessings.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, national director of Anglican Essentials. “The Anglican Church of Canada is at a crossroads.”

Delegates will be voting on a motion that would leave it to each diocese to decide whether priests will bless same-sex couples. Of Canada’s 30 dioceses, only the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster allows the practice.

“Both sides have their teeth into the bone and they’re not prepared to give it up,” said Chris Ambidge, president of Integrity Canada, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian Anglicans.

“As a gay man, I want a place in my own church and I don’t want to be downgraded to second- or third-class Christianity.”

Even if the motion passes, Ambidge pointed out that individual priests couldn’t be forced to comply.

“Every clergyman, in the Anglican Church anyway, always has the option of saying ‘no.’ If you really, really don’t like remarrying divorced people, and for that you can make a strong argument out of scripture, then Rev. Joe Blogs can say ‘no,’ ” Ambidge said.

“If this were to pass, it would never be the case of people being forced to marry people if they felt this were the wrong thing.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Stephen Plant: Trinity Sunday helps us to see the real dangers of bad faith

The first few years of this century are turning out to be busy ones for anti-religious polemicists. Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and, soon to appear, Christopher Hitchens’s God is not Great revive a tradition of impassioned criticism of religious belief and of what people do in God’s name.

The reason for the relative quiet in the closing years of the last century is plain enough. As long as religion had seemed to have little to do with anything important ”“ such as politics or war ”“ committed secularists were spared the bother of arguing that religion is bad. It is only when people do bad things in the name of their religious beliefs that atheists need to get evangelical about their creed.

Personally, I don’t feel any desire to leap to the defence of Christian faith against this renewed assault. This is not because others are doing the job well enough, but because, Christian though I am, I have some sympathy with the view that belief in God can be dangerous.

If God is not to be abused, it seems important to me to recognise that religious belief can be dangerous for individuals and for society. The fact that most of the time religious convictions in practice make believers good neighbours and good citizens does little to lessen the scandal when God is invoked to justify tyranny or terror.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology

Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers

Posted in * General Interest

John Ydstie: The Legacy of Slavery, and Exceptionalism

The 400th anniversary of Jamestown provides an opportunity for Americans to relearn their nation’s history, and unlearn the sanitized versions of its beginnings that often dominate political discourse. The legacy of American slavery that started in Jamestown undermines the idea of American exceptionalism.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Terror Plot "One Of The Most Chilling Imaginable"

Officials said the plot may also have included plans to hit the JFK terminal buildings and aircraft, in addition to the fuel lines.

In discussing JFK airport as a target, Defreitas exulted over JFK airport’s symbolic importance, according to a U.S. Justice Department complaint:

“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow …. They love John F. Kennedy like he’s the man …. If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you can kill the man twice. ”

In a later recorded conversation with his coconspirators in May 2007, Defreitas compared the plot to attack JFK airport to the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, stating, “even the Twin Towers can’t touch it,” adding that, “this can destroy the economy of America for some time.”

Sources said the planning stages of the plot involved surveillance of JFK airport as well as scouting out US properties in Guyana for possible attacks.

Aviation officials said there is no major threat to air travel related to this plot since it was caught in the developmental stages.

One law enforcement official said: “[There was] credible intent to commit violence but it was not operational.”

Officials said the suspects never got hold of explosive devices.

“This was the ultimate hand-and-glove operation between NYPD and FBI,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican from Long Island.

The arrests mark the latest in a series of alleged homegrown terrorism plots targeting high-profile American landmarks.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali's Reflections on the unique and universal claims of Christ

There is a burgeoning literature of Muslim views of Jesus. Nazir-Ali discussed the view of Jesus as presented by Rageeh Omar in his TV Series The Miracles of Jesus. Omar believed that Jesus’ miracles were presented as a sign of his divine authority and of God’s victory over evil. Omar claimed however that the Quran does not emphasize the miracles of Jesus because this could lead to him being seen as divine. Nazir-Ali asserted contrary to Omar that the Quran does affirm that Jesus’ miracles occurred by God’s leave. For the Quran Jesus is a prophet, apostle, the Word and spirit of God, and even mentions his death in 19.33 and 3.55. He hoped that Omar can address in a future series what he has learnt from Christian tradition about Jesus and what his Muslim background has taught him. To understand Jesus and his movement, we have to look at the Jewish people for information and inspiration. To the Jewish community Nazir-Ali asked how far the Jews can within the integrity of their own faith see the marks of the coming messianic age in the figure of Jesus. Hindus and Hinduism itself has been changed in surprising and important ways by the encounter with Jesus. The criticism of caste, the emancipation and education of women and the tendency to ethical monotheism took place under explicitly acknowledged Christian influence. But the key question in Hinduism has to do with the uniqueness of Jesus as the Word made flesh whose death enabled human beings to have open intimacy with the God who is the source of their being. Jesus presented himself as divine wisdom in the search of the excluded, disreputable and the lost. The female form of wisdom affects our understanding of women as in God’s image sharing in a common mission with men but distinctively. Redemption in Christ does away with false distinctions, oppression and subordination which result from the Fall and human sinfulness but not with a similarity in difference which is an aspect of God’s will for humanity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Theology

What the Episcopal Church in South Dakota is up to

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Two Episcopal Priests Joined in Civil Union

The Rev. Mark Alan Lewis and the Rev. K. Dennis Winslow, Episcopal priests, were joined in civil union on Tuesday. The Rev. Tim S. Hall, also an Episcopal priest, officiated at the couple’s home in Union City, N.J., assisted by his wife, the Rev. Jacqueline Schmidt.

Mr. Lewis (above, left), 47, is the vicar at the Episcopal Church of our Saviour in Secaucus, N.J. Mr. Winslow, 57, is the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in New York. They both have master’s degrees in divinity, Mr. Lewis from the Virginia Theological Seminary and Mr. Winslow from Nashotah House in Wisconsin.

Mr. Lewis graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. He is the son of Willie Mae Bell and Gary L. Lewis, both of West Plains, Mo., and the stepson of Phyllis D. Lewis and of James H. Bell.

Mr. Winslow graduated from Emerson College. He is a son of Ada J. Winslow of Yarmouth Port, Mass., and the late Mr. Winslow Sr.

The couple met 15 years ago this week, shortly after Mr. Lewis moved to New Jersey.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

George Conger has a blog

Take the time to give him a visit.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Resources: blogs / websites

The Oklahoma City Memorial

It was simply stunning. By far the most effective memorial I have ever been to anywhere. I am speechless. The amount of time and meticulous detail involved in the preperation of the memorial and the museum are a monumental tribute to this city. I was unprepared for the massive impact it would have on me, now more than twelve years later. If you are ever nearby in the future, please make plans to visit–you will not regret it–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall