Archive for November, 2009

We are underdeveloped and “only” 50 Behind the enlightened Episcopal Church – Bp Schori

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Episcopal leader holds firm on gay rights

Says N.H. bishop’s election a blessing

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori held a coffee hour at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. (GEORGE RIZER/GLOBE STAFF)

Saying “I don’t believe that there is any will in this church to move backward,” the top official of the Episcopal Church USA said yesterday that the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire has been “a great blessing” despite triggering intense controversy and talk of possible schism.

In an interview during a visit to Boston, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery and women’s rights, and said she believes that it has become a vocation for the Episcopal Church “to keep questions of human sexuality in conversation, and before not just the rest of our own church, but the rest of the world.”

Jefferts Schori said that it could take 50 years for the debate over homosexuality to be resolved, but that she believes it will happen. She said she hopes that the Anglican Communion, an umbrella organization including the Episcopal Church and the Church of England, will stay together.

Where the protesters are, in some parts of Africa or in other parts of the Anglican Communion today, is where this church and this society we live in was 50 years ago, and for us to assume that people can move that distance in a year or in a relatively instantaneous manner is perhaps faithless,” she said. “That kind of movement and development has taken us a good deal of pain and energy over 40 or 50 years, and I think we have to make some space so that others can make that journey as well.”

Read the whole story here……..


Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Author: William Murchison;
Format: Hardcover
Delivery: Usually within 10 working days.
Was R 284.95 Now R 227.96 (eB 2280)

FOR ALL ITS IGNORANCE ABOUT (not to mention contempt toward) Christianity in America, even Hollywood sometimes gets it right. The 1996 movie Mighty Aphrodite includes a scene in which the somewhat ditsy character Linda Ash (Mira Sorvino) asks the lead figure, Lenny (Woody Allen), if he works out at a gym. “Not religiously,” Lenny replies. “Oh,” says Ash, “I’m not religious either…my folks were Episcopalians.”

Of course, it is “not that the dignified and rarefied old Episcopal Church (TEC) quit believing in God,” says the book jacket of the recently-published Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity, penned by William Murchison, a nationally syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on Episcopal affairs. “It’s that the God you increasingly hear spoken of in Episcopal circles is infinitely tolerant and given to sudden changes of mind – not quite the divinity you thought you were reading about in the scriptures.” In th e last 40 years, God seems to have changed His mind about several important matters in TEC, while not always doing the same in other Anglican provinces.

The question is – as distressed believers not infrequently asked me during my two decades of covering Anglican/Episcopal news – how and why did The Episcopal Church come to this pass? What happened to loose it from its historic theological moorings, and transform it within a few decades from a prominent and noble (if imperfect) branch of U.S. mainline Christianity to a shrunken distortion of its former self?

The continued timeliness of these questions was underscored in July by the Episcopal General Convention’s clear and decisive support for homosexual practice. And it is these same questions that my friend and colleague, Mr. Murchison, a longtime Episcopal layman and former editor of Foundations, attempts to ans wer in a comprehensive way in Mortal Follies.

…………  The 1928 Book of Common Prayer draws positive mentions throughout the book, and Murchison devotes a full chapter to the historic liturgy and the far-reaching effects of TEC’s process of prayer book revision.

What in the world has happened to The Episcopal Church? Mortal Follies is an extremely valuable book for anyone interested in better understanding the answer to that question.


The Thirty-nine Articles and the Church

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

October 31st, 2009 Posted in News |

(Ed: In an effort to keep the ball rolling on the subject of Anglicanism as a theological system, I thought I’d reprint the following, which was a talk given to an evening meeting of our own congregations a couple of years ago.)


That the Thirty-nine Articles were designed to benefit both the church and the state by settling religious disputes is evident from the Royal Declaration of 1562:

Being by God’s Ordinance, according to Our just Title, Defender of the Faith, and Supreme Governour of the Church, within these Our Dominions, We hold it most agreeable to this Our Kingly Office, and our own religious Zeal, to conserve and maintain the church committed to Our Charge, in Unity of true Religion, and in the Bond of Peace; and not to suffer unnecessary Disputations, Altercations, or Questions to be raised, which may nourish Faction both in the Church and Commonwealth.

That is the Anglican ideal, based on the model of church and state conceived at the English Reformation. There are to be no disputations, altercations and questions. Instead there is to be unity and the bond of peace, in state and in church.

The nature of the Church

But what is the Church? Article XIX tells us:

THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
Notice first, the reference to the visible Church, as distinct from the invisible Church. The invisible Church is the company of faithful believers known only to Christ. And indeed the Westminster Confession of 1647 began its definition of the Church there:

The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect … [emphasis added]
But of course the membership of the invisible Church is known only to God, and the Articles leave that aside, concentrating only on the visible. And what is visible is the preaching of the Word of God and the ministering of the Sacraments according to Christ’s commands. Where you have those, you have the Church.

Church and diocese

But here we hit a modern political issue. In his book The Anglican Understanding of the Church, Paul Avis, who is a very influential writer in these matters, denies that Article 19 means that the local congregation is the fundamental unit of the Church.

He argues from the fact that the Latin version of this article refers to a coetus fidelium — an assembly of the faithful — which he says refers to “a national church made up of dioceses” (p77). He concludes,
The ‘local church’ in Anglican ecclesiology denotes … the community of word and sacrament gathered, governed and led by the bishop. For Anglican ecclesiology , the ‘congregation’ in the strict sense is the diocese. (Avis op cit)
Not unnaturally, this conclusion has made Avis very popular amongst bishops, but whilst Avis is right in saying that the Article has a wider view than the local congregation, he is, I would argue, wrong to say it is the diocese.

Particular and national churches

The reason I believe he is wrong is because the Articles themselves don’t think of the Church in this way. The critical Article is 37, Of the Civil Magistrates, which says this:
THE King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain …