"(T)he formularies of classical Anglicanism did a better job of retaining the wheat of the orthodox catholicism of the ancient Church while jettisoning the chaff of innovative medieval accretion than did any other segment of the Reformation. This is why Anglicanism can, perhaps uniquely, lay equal claim to the appellations Protestant and Catholic and affirm both without any sense of inconsistency or incoherence. Indeed, strictly speaking, in proper understanding of each term, to truly be one, you must be both." - Wimsey aka Death Bredon

Layman's Guide to the Thirty-Nine Articles, Fr. Robert Hart, Fr. Luke Wells and Bishop Peter Robinson

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion

Fr. Hart Essays on Classic Anglicanism

Branch Theory or Branch Fact?:  Catholic Ecumenism and the Elephant in the Room

Fr. Jonathan: Checklist for Finding a Classically Anglican Parish


"What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?" - Tertullian

The Pastorate as the Proper Venue for the Church's Theology

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Peter Berger: The Vernacularist Illusion

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O cuniculi! Ubi lexicon Latinum posui?

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Black-Robed Regiment

Cardinal Charles Chaput Reviews "For Greater Glory" (Cristero War)

Cristero War

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Jim Kalb: How Bad Will Things Get?

John Calvin and the Right of Armed Resistance


Christians in the Roman Army: Countering the Pacifist Narrative

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What's Wrong With The World: Dispatches From The 10th Crusade


A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son  (Yes, this is about women's ordination.)

Essays on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood from the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth

Sutton: Father is Head at the Table: Male Eucharistic Headship and Primary Spiritual Leadership

Homo Hierarchicus and Ecclesial Order

Packer: Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters

Lewis: Priestesses in the Church?

Whitacre: Reasons for Questioning Women’s Ordination in the Light of Scripture

Streams of the River: Articles Outlining the Arguments Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

Mascall: Women Priests?

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       Death to the Beast




                           Click for music.  Player will open on separate page.              

           Celebrating 400 Years of Anglicanism in America at the Old Jamestown Church


The Stalker and the Scholar

Having now publicly, and I would obviously say successfully, defended myself against the charge that I have been engaging in "cyber stalking" and other activities "unseemly in a Deacon of the church", I have taken down my recent exchange with Will Witt on this matter, thinking that the only truly "unseemly" thing would be to leave that exchange up and thereby perpetuate hard feelings between the both of us.  I'm happy to put the exchange back up if Dr. Witt insists that I do so, but my guess is that he would desire to put this thing behind us and try to establish a Christian-like accord between us from now on, as is my desire.  In the near future I plan to post more frequently on the issue of women's ordination to the priesthood, and I may be interacting with some of Witt's published articles as I do so.   I welcome comments to these future blog articles from Dr. Witt, any of his students, or anyone else who is interested in this subject.   Let's turn our attention to the issue that currently stands as the elephant in the room in ACNA and other ostensibly orthodox provinces and organizations in the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Realignment.


Simon Gathercole's Review of N.T. Wright's "Paul and the Faithfulness of God"

In the very near future I plan to wade back into N.T. Wright with a view towards giving him a less jaundiced reading than I have before.  This is partly because I am becoming more attuned to the latter of what Gathercole calls here the "juridical versus incorporative approaches to Pauline soteriology", and partly because some trusted friends have argued that I haven't fully understood Wright.  So, I will start with this book, since it contains Wright's most recent  and apparently reshaped thinking on the matter.  That being said, I will be relying on the work of critics such as Gathercole to provide the necessary peer review and to help me digest Wright's massive work in Pauline studies.  

On Gathercole.

Paul and the Faithfulness of God: A Review

From the review:


First, a point of confusion, which I freely admit may be one in my own mind rather than in PFG. In his discussion of dikaioō ('justify' - pp. 945-946), Wright states - contrary to what I have always assumed him to be saying - that God's justifying of the believer is 'not a description'; it is rather a declaration, which 'creates and constitutes a new situation, a new status' (p.946). I am puzzled partly because Wright has always polemicized sharply against the idea that justification is 'how one becomes a Christian' (What Saint Paul Really Said, p.125), or the like. Rather, '"Justification" is the doctrine which insists that all those who have this faith belong as full members of this family, on this basis [sc. "faith"] and no other' (What Saint Paul Really Said, p.133). This sounds to me to be something like an emphatic description, a (public) confirmation, a matter of definition - another term which Wright very frequently uses in connection with justification. To take one example: 'For Paul, "the gospel" creates the church; justification defines it' (What Saint Paul Really Said, p.151). Perhaps part of the difficulty here is that the word 'define' very often means 'describe exactly the way a thing is', but can also mean something like 'fix' or 'decide' something not yet fixed or decided. But less ambiguously, Wright has stated: 'Justification is not how someone becomes a Christian. It is the declaration that they have become a Christian' (What Saint Paul Really Said, p.125). I do not see how this can refer to anything but a description. Again, in a discussion of Gal. 2.15-16 in Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Wright defines justification: 'At a stroke, Paul has told us what it means to be "declared righteous". It means to have God acknowledge that you are a member of "Israel", a "Jew", one of the "covenant family"... Justification is all about being declared to be a member of God's people' (PFG, p.856; italics original). Again, the natural reading of the language of divine 'acknowledgement that you are X' is that it refers to recognition of what is already the case.

What confuses me, then, is that the event of justification 'creates and constitutes a new situation, a new status' but at the same time is not the event in which one moves from not being a Christian to being a Christian. Or to put it differently, if justification emphatically does not refer to the event of 'becoming a Christian' (as Wright clearly states it does not), but emphatically is the event of God granting someone the status of covenant membership or the event of being 'reckoned to be part of the covenant family' (PFG, p.930) (as Wright equally clearly thinks), then this seems to drive an unfortunate wedge between becoming a Christian and becoming a covenant/family member. I feel slightly embarrassed to have to write here that, despite considering myself a reasonably intelligent person and having read almost everything Wright has published on the subject of justification, I remain slightly puzzled as to what kind of event justification is on his view.

Second, and more importantly, I still remain unconvinced about Wright's interpretation of 'righteousness' language in Paul. In PFG as in Wright's previous work, the verb 'justify' means 'declare to be a member of the covenant', and the noun 'righteousness' therefore is 'covenant membership': to both of these, glosses about the family are frequently added, so that righteousness means something like a certificate of adoption. To cite one clear example, in his interpretation of Gal. 2.16:

'Words mean what they mean within their sentences and contexts, and dikaiōthōmen here must refer to God's declaration that all believers are part of his family' (p.968).

I will touch here upon (i) a historical-theological point, (ii) an apparent inconsistency in Wright's treatment, (iii) the Jewish background, and (iv) the Pauline usage.

(i) First, Wright appeals, here as elsewhere (e.g. Justification, p.80, and frequently in Pauline Perspectives), to Alister McGrath's authoritative history of the doctrine of justification as grounds for the claim that the meanings of justification in Paul and in the history of dogma, are quite different: 'the word has long since ceased to mean, in ecclesial debates, what it meant for Paul itself' (PFG, p.913). At one level, this of course is a truism: 'justification' has meant so many things that it is hard to see how Paul could be even in theory consistent with all the various proposals in the history of the church. It could be said, however, that all that Wright's appeal to McGrath amounts to is that each of them understands the New Testament differently from what one might call the broad areas of agreement in the Protestant tradition. In fact, they each disagree with this Protestant tradition for different reasons. This is readily apparent when one compares McGrath's account of justification in the Bible immediately prior to the publication of his Iustitia Dei, and Wright's work on justification from the same time.(1)

(ii) Second, there is a matter of consistency in Wright's treatment of 'righteousness'. I don't intend here to quibble with the understanding of dikaiosunē Theou as covenant faithfulness or covenant justice. But it does seem to me an inconsistency to identify human dikaiosunē in second-temple Judaism and Paul as covenant membership without reference to (or certainly without emphasis upon) faithfulness - in particular, without containing the element of 'doing', i.e. very different in its semantics from the divine version. (Cf. the insistence in What Saint Paul Really Said, p.124, that God's righteousness is covenant faithfulness; ours is covenant membership.) Why not translate dikaiosunē consistently as 'covenant faithfulness', whomever it belongs to? I would argue that this makes perfect sense in Paul, who saw the event of justification as God reckoning to the believer the status of one who had fulfilled all the covenant stipulations of the divine will. 

(iii) Third, the sense of righteousness in Jewish literature. Here I have serious reservations about understanding 'righteousness' as 'covenant membership': the problem is with the latter part, not the covenantal nature of righteousness. Righteousness is something you do (as well as being about not doing certain things), and also the status you have when you have done it. This is apparent in OT passages such as Deut. 6.25: 'And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.' 'Righteousness' is often paired with words such as 'justice' (1 Kgs 10.9), 'integrity' (Ps. 7.8), 'cleanness of hands' (Ps. 18.20). Its frequent antonym is 'wickedness' (Deut. 9.4-5; Job 35.8; Ps. 45.7; Prov. 10.2; 11.5; Eccl. 3.16; Ezek. 18.20; 33.12; cf. Rom. 6.13; Heb. 1.9). Of course 'righteousness' is as Wright points out, relational and covenantal, but it is about doing what the Lord has instituted in the covenant, obeying its (and therefore his) terms. The 'doing' that I have mentioned above is not general 'doing good' in some abstract sense, as if about amassing merits, but the 'doing' specifically of what God has commanded. At one point Wright gives as a sense of righteousness, 'covenant behaviour' (p.802; cf. pp.796-798), but this has no impact on his wider Pauline discussion of passages in Romans and Galatians. It seems to me to be just an impossibility at the philological level to see dikaiosunē as meaning 'membership within the covenant'. I am not aware of any OT or postbiblical Jewish writing where dikaiosunē has this sense. (Wright often quotes the Phinehas parallel between Num. 25.12-13/Ps. 106.31, but this commits the fallacy that parallelism means synonymy.) If there is no substantive evidence for this meaning in the OT and Judaism, it should surely be abandoned. 

(iv) In consequence, it is hard to see that Pauline usage of 'justification' and 'righteousness' can be about family membership. Of course in Galatians membership of God's (and Abraham's) family is an important theme, but this cannot easily be read backwards into the justification discourse in Galatians 2. Table-fellowship at the Antioch incident does not necessarily imply that what was at stake was a family eating together: then as now, lots of different groups share table-fellowship. In Cambridge today, many academics - rightly or wrongly - eat just as frequently with other college fellows as they do with their families. In the Roman empire in Paul's day, cultic meals, including meals with other members of one's guild, were part of the fabric of society. Family language only appears in two places in the surrounding context of the justification language in Galatians 2: in connection with the 'false brothers' (Gal. 2.4) and Jesus being Son of God (Gal. 2.20).

This concern with 'definition' relates too to 'works of the Law'. As mentioned above, Wright occasionally makes reference to 'covenant behaviour' and related ideas, but much more influential upon his wider discussion is the role of works as defining

There is an interesting passage in PFG in which Wright defines 'what a first-century Pharisee would have meant by "justification by the works of the law"' (PFG, p.184, italics original). The four components are as follows: (1) God will judge the world and reckon some people in the right; (2) certain works in the present define those who will be acquitted at that judgment; (3) those works mark out loyal members of the covenant from disloyal ones; (4) 'as a result, those who perform these things in the present time can thus be assured that the verdict to be issued in the future, when the age to come is finally launched, can already be known, can be anticipated, in the present' (p.184). These elements are then applied very closely to the specifics of the document '4QMMT' from the Dead Sea Scrolls (p.185).

I may of course be criticised for being simplistic at this point, but this seems to me to be overly convoluted. This four-fold scheme seems to me to over-complicate matters by importing a concern with definition which is not of direct concern in the texts. We can look at the particular case of 4QMMT here, where Wright's application of item (4) above reads: 'therefore you can tell in the present who will be "vindicated" or "justified" in the future, because they are the people who, here and now, are performing this "selection of works of the Law". Do these things, and "it will be reckoned to you as righteousness"' (p.185). My objection to this sort of language is that 4QMMT does not claim to be talking about how you might - from a bird's eye view, as it were - be able to see in the present who will be reckoned as righteous in the future. What it says is: the things we have written about are good for you; reflect on them; you will find at the end of time that they are true; 'do what is upright and good', and it will be reckoned as righteousness to you (cf. again Deut. 6.25). 

As a result, on Wright's (correct) assumption that this framework in 4QMMT is a more widely held scheme, it seems to me that one could more easily gloss 'what a first-century Pharisee would have meant by "justification by the works of the law"' as follows: (1) God will judge the world and reckon some people in the right; (2) the criterion of judgment will be obedience to the Torah ('works of the Law', 'doing what is upright and good'); (3) therefore obey the Torah! 

Certainly 4QMMT is engaged in a debate about what how rightly to interpret what the works of the Law really are. In fact, though, it is only concerned with giving the correct interpretation of some of the works of the Law (miqsat ma'ase ha-Torah). The shared assumption of author and reader alike is, presumably, that obedience to the Law (which of course needs to be understood correctly) leads to being reckoned as righteous.

I am actually rather happier with the way Wright puts it elsewhere: as for example, in the discussion of Leviticus 18.5: 'Torah insists on obedience as the way to "life" (as it was bound to...). But where this obedience has not been forthcoming the Abrahamic promises are blocked. It looks as though Jews will not inherit the promises, because of their failure to keep Torah, and gentiles, because Torah excludes them anyway.' (PFG, p.973). However, when it comes to defining justification, it is cast differently, along the lines of Wright's (I would say, overconvoluted) interpretation of 4QMMT: 'That model (the signs in the present which tell, already, who will inherit the coming age) remains in Paul. His doctrine of "justification" has a similar shape' (p.930). Here it is precisely the element which is introduced against the grain of 4QMMT which defines the shape (though not the content) of justification in Paul.


Two Articles on Women's Ordination from Scholars in ACNA 

I've added these to the list of resources in Women's Ordination section, left sidebar.

Reasons for Questioning Women’s Ordination in the Light of Scripture, The Rev. Dr. Rodney A. Whitacre, 2014

Father is Head at the Table: Male Eucharistic Headship and Primary Spiritual Leadership,  The Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton, Ph.D.

Word is that then-Archbishop Duncan had Dr. Witt give a presentation on Women's Ordination at a College of Bishops meeting several years ago and where Bishop Sutton delivered an eloquent reply, to put it mildly.  Too bad it wasn't recorded.


Interesting Discussion Here on ACNA and Women's Ordination

The article is relatively fresh (May 29, 2014) and contains a list of which bishops are pro-WO and which are anti-WO. 


A Chaplain’s Calling: ‘It Drew Me In’


On the Planned Parenthood Revelations

You would think that the Planned Parenthood revelations would finally reveal plainly the dark side of the Left, and that popular opinion would accordingly marshal itself squarely against it from this time forward.

You would think.

"...the thing about the Nazi party and the Holocaust...showed us that given the right pressures and narratives, ordinary people, even and especially highly educated people can be part of...unspeakably evil things. Behold, we are the same." p-robinson


For Want of a Liturgical Calendar

Or something.



An Important New Book on Women's Ordination

One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life


In the debate over the ordination of women, the battle in ostensibly conservative ranks has been argued on two levels, exegetical and theological.   Evangelicals have tended to focus on the former,  with "complementarians" defending the traditional view and "egalitarians" arguing for the novel practice of ordaining women to pastoral leadership, while Catholics (Roman, Orthodox and Anglo) have tended to focus more on theological, and specifically ecclesiological/liturgiological considerations.  My friend William Witt, an Anglican theologian and professor at Trinity School for Ministry, has been working on a defense of the innovation based on both theological and exegetical considerations. 

Both sides would agree that the created order, and specifically the role of men and women in society, the household, and the church, reflects certain truths about the Triune Godhead and the relationship between Christ and the Church.  The argument is essentially that if you have wrong ideas about the Trinity and Christ, you're going to have the wrong ideas about the relationship of men and women in society, the household and the church.  And, vice versa, if you hold wrong ideas about the relationship of men and women in society, the household and the church, this will adversely impact your orthodoxy in the areas of triadology and christology.

Concerning the former, the question is whether the divine ontology is "egalitarian" or in some sense "complementarian."  Both sides say they embrace orthodox trinitarianism, and therefore the consubstantiality and full divinity of the three Persons.  The argument is whether or not there is an eternal, functional subordination of the Son and the Holy Spirit to the Father.  This issue is not to be confused with ontological subordinationism, which both sides would agree is a heresy

I mentioned above how our view of the role of men and women in society, household and church can impact our view of the Godhead.   Egalitarians, being egalitarians,  accordingly tend to NOT want to find ANY kind of complementarianism or subordinationism in the Holy Trinity and will stress that each person of the Godhead is autotheos, an orthodox term that stresses the consubstantiality and full divinity of the three Persons -  or, their "equality" if you will.  On the consubstantiality and full divinity of the three Persons we can agree.  The issue is how we are to avoid the heresy of polytheism, and, if we're Evangelical egalitarians who accept the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, what we do with the doctrines of the eternal generation of the Son from the Father and the eternal procession or "spiration" of the Spirit from the Father (and the Son, if we're Westerners).  And this is where it gets tricky.

As near as I can tell, it was the Evangelical egalitarian theologian Gilbert Bilezikian, author of Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family, who first set forth the argument that any claim to base a complementarian view of the role of women in household and church on the nature of the Holy Trinity is to have embraced the old heresy of subordinationism.  That argument, however, was powerfully countered by an article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society entitled, A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son, by Stephen D. Kovach and Peter R. Schemm, Jr.  The authors argue that, in fact, the orthodox triadology defended by St. Athanasius, the Cappadocians, and other Church Fathers, which theology is reflected in the wording of the Creed, entails an eternal and functional subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father, but not an ontological one, and that this understanding shows up in a number of places in Holy Scripture, both with respect to the relationship between the Father and Son, and the relationship between man and woman.  In order words, orthodox triadology is "complementarian", not "egalitarian".  I urge everyone to read the Kovach/Schemm JETS article linked above.

And then, having read that, I urge everyone to purchase One God in Three Persons, which fleshes out in a number of articles the thesis of the Kovach Schemm article.  I was alerted to this book by an egalitarian friend who posted a reference to it on his Facebook page and made a comment there to the effect of, "See, here's proof positive that the complementarians are heretics as to their view of the Trinity."  But it isn't so.  The view of functional subordinationism defended by Kovach, Schemm and the contributors to this volume are merely setting forth the orthodox view of the Trinity.  And if it is true that Kovach et al. are defending the orthodox view of the Trinity , a certain conclusion about the egalitarian view follows from that, one that applies to Anglican defenders of women's ordination to the priesthood, if in fact they utilize the arguments of Bilezekian et al. 

A detailed (though not unbiased) review can be read here.


No. Just . . . No

Whatever took place in the first century with respect to the charismata, it wasn't this.  This is the furthest thing from "decently and in order", I don't care what its defenders say.


The Anglican Beer Club

A photo of last night's meeting of the Anglican Beer Club at Comrade Brewery with the Anglican Beer Club, Denver, CO.  Bishop Stephen Scarlett, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Holy Trinity, Anglican Catholic Church, Original Province, is to my right.  It happened that his birthday was the next day, and it was fun embarrassing him by singing "Happy Birthday". Everyone in the room joined in. I met two military chaplains, one of whom, a fellow Anglican deacon, works at a Marine hospital in Camp Pendleton.  The latter chaplain (the fellow with the clerical collar to my left) is a retired Navy pilot and Vietnam vet, who left the business world to become a military chaplain.  He and I swapped stories about our experiences as chaplains.  At times we had tears in our eyes as we both noted how the Lord has blessed us so richly by the privilege of being chaplains.  He and I will likely be in close contact in the future.

Churches represented: The Anglican Catholic Church, Anglican Mission in the Americas, and the Evangelical Free Church.


Unfortunately, when I posted this photo on Facebook several of us got caught up in a rancorous and uncharitable discussion over the propriety of such clubs.  In the course of the debate, it was even suggested that drinking alcohol in and of itself was a questionable practice for a Christian.  To their credit, my opponents are concerned about the nation's alcoholism epidemic, a concern I share as a hospital chaplain.  Things got out of hand however.  After an initial blast from some Anglican folks condemning the idea of an Anglican beer club, I ended up making some comments  that I wish I had not, and I'm guessing the same is true with folks on the opposing side.  I have removed my comments, and happily it appears at this writing that the parties involved are moving toward reconciliation.  I am glad and relieved to retract angry and uncharitable words, and to ask for forgiveness.  What I cannot retract, however,  is my position.

Anglicanism is not Finneyism.  C.S. Lewis, who regularly drank with Anglican clergymen sporting their collars, had this to say about teetotalism:

Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened 'Temperance', it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion. Of course it may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of man who cannot drink at all without drinking too much, or because he wants to give the money to the poor, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkenness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons -- marriage or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning. . . .

I have always in my books been concerned simply to put forward 'mere' Christianity, and am no guide on these (most regrettable) 'inter-denominational' questions. I do however strongly object to the tyrannical and unscriptural insolence of anything that calls itself a Church and makes teetotalism a condition of membership. Apart from the more serious objection (that Our Lord Himself turned water into wine and made wine the medium of the only rite He imposed on all His followers), it is so provincial (what I believe you people call 'small town'). Don't they realize that Christianity arose in the Mediterranean world where, then as now, wine was as much a part of the normal diet as bread?

What would Jesus do and say?:

And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

In his blog article "Your Pastor in a Pub?", Randy Robinson writes:

So your pastor preaches a great sermon on Sunday morning. He is clearly in touch with God and his delivery of God's word touches your life. You find yourself drawn into a deeper walk with the Lord.

Then you go to lunch and there's your pastor sitting in the bar, smoking a cigar and drinking a beer.

Uh oh.

If you're in a mainstream evangelical church, this would be scandalous. Yet in many of these same churches, C.S. Lewis is quoted, adored and celebrated. With The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe showing in theaters, Lewis mania has peaked. . . .

Lewis never advocated drunkenness or addiction. Instead, he maintained a balanced -- and dare I say Biblical? -- view of everything, including drinking. He defended it as ferociously and artfully as such essential Christian behaviors as forgiveness and charity. (He had a harder time defending smoking and tried, unsuccessfully, to give it up, but he never castigated it as "sin.")

Lewis is arguably the most influential modern-day disciple. His writings provoke deep thought. They encourage a more meaningful relationship with God. They have even led many hardened skeptics to a spiritual conversion. But his personal behavior remains puzzling to some Christians.

So next time you hear someone praising or quoting C.S. Lewis, picture the man who sat in a pub drinking, smoking, and penning some of the most powerful words since Paul wrote his letters to the early church.

Douglas Gresham, Lewis' stepson, summed up his famous father's attitude recently in an interview with Christianity Today:

"The problem with evangelical Christianity in America today, a large majority of you have sacrificed the essential for the sake of the trivial. You concentrate on the trivialities--not smoking, not drinking, not using bad language, not dressing inappropriately in church, and so on. Jesus doesn't give two hoots for that sort of bulls**t. If you go out and DO Christianity, you can smoke if you want, you can drink if you want--though not to excess, in either case."

So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Tip of the pint glass to Mr. Robinson.

For what it's worth, here's a a lesson on μεθυσθῶσιν as it occurs in St. John's account of the wedding at Cana, John 2:1-11, and some further comments about the influence of the Temperance Movement in the Finneyite brand of Evangelical Christianity:

"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him." - KJV

The teaching of Holy Scripture on the question of alcohol consumption is pretty easy to understand. On the one hand, habitual drunkenness is condemned, but alcohol: 1) consumed in small amounts for health reasons; and 2) consumed in larger and sometimes mildly to moderately intoxicating amounts on celebratory occasions is considered a gift of God. See Prov. 20:1; Psalm 104:15; the text above, I Tim. 5:23 and Eph. 5:18 for representative texts from the Old and New Testaments.

Until the advent of the American Temperance Movement, no Christian exegete or theologian, or none that I know of anyway, would have ventured to suggest that the wine consumed at the wedding of Cana was anything but an alcoholic beverage. Or that the attendees weren't drinking wine in copious, celebratory amounts. The word μεθυσθῶσιν (English transliteration "methusthōsin") used in this text ("they have well drunk" according to certain sanitizing translations) refers to alcoholic wine, and it literally means "have gotten drunk", not "have well drunk."

Apparently, for some reason, Jesus was unconcerned about how His facilitation of the flow of wine to people who had already copped a buzz at a wedding celebration sent the wrong message to the weak and to alcoholics. Which means, for one thing, that these folks' exegesis and application of Romans 14:21 won't do.  For the correct exegesis of this passage, read this.

In the short amount of time I've been attending the Anglican Beer Club, I've noticed that when we Anglican clergymen show up at a drinking establishment sporting our clericals, we get a lot of "looks" - and sometimes laughs -- from people there. I noticed it at the last event at Comrade Brewery. We pay it no mind, and by the time we left, not only had the whole place joined in our singing of "Happy Birthday" to Bishop Scarlett, but we started mingling with the crowd, Bishop Scarlett making introductions to a couple of tables and posing for a photo with one lady, and I struck up a conversation with the guy playing the Gibson SG.


I know for a fact that when we left that establishment, we had planted seeds in the minds of some - "Here were some Christians drinking beer with us, not shunning us, and they were also friendly to us." Exactly what Jesus did when he attended the drinking parties that earned him the scorn of the Pharisees.  One of the reasons St. Matthew Anglican Catholic Church, where Bishop Scarlett is the rector, has enjoyed exponential growth  is that they've had an aggressive outreach program in their community that includes feasts open to the public, where collared clergy come to share food, drink and smoke with the folks that show up. Moreover, their clergy aren't at all reserved in their wearing of clericals anywhere they go to eat or drink. Two nights ago when I observed Bishop Scarlett working the crowd, I knew that this was simply in keeping with St. Matthew's style of outreach, and that style of outreach is perfectly harmonious with what Jesus did.  Those who object to collared Anglican clergymen showing up at the local pub or microbrewery need to take the matter up with Jesus, and explain to him exactly why it was inappropriate for him to do what he did at the wedding in Cana.

Anyway, if you're ever in Denver, the Club meets every Thursday night at one of the craft beer breweries in town.  Denver is in the top ten list of craft beer cities in the U.S., and we'd love to have you join us if you're able.  You can contact me through the blog email.   


From One of My Anglican Friends

I was accused of oozing sarcasm.
This is unfair.
I am clearly, concisely and coherently sarcastic.
I do not ooze.

A man after my own heart.


Fr. J's Second Response to William Witt on "In Persona Ecclesiae"


It seems to be de rigeur to continue some of the errors of the polemicists into modern theology by making sharp distinctions between Eastern theology and Western theology on every point and presuming a facile pre schism harmony. There are so many points to be made here, I will try to limit myself to the central ones.

Witt performs a sleight of hand by making all his Eucharistic references to meal rather than to sacrifice. This is a convenient way to avoid all sacerdotal arguments against WO. The “Holy Table” is in both East and West an altar of sacrifice. Some liturgists who play fast and loose with the facts have suggested that the emphasis on sacrifice is a Western preoccupation. This is not born out in the prayers of preparation nor the Eucharistic prayers of the East, nor the imagery of the altar itself which is dominated not be a Last Supper but by an icon of the crucifixion. The loaf of bread is cut with a lance and the prayers of preparation make several references to the lamb of sacrifice.

So the paterfamilias is perhaps a bit of a type for the presiding priest or bishop. But the presidency of Bishop or priest over an assembly was the least part of what they do. No, they do not merely preside (stand over) at Eucharist, but they are priests of the sacrifice of calvary who offer this sacrifice to God. This is true in both East and West, where West excludes many Anglicans and the rest of the protestant world.

Similarly, the idea that the words of institution are somehow unimportant in Eastern liturgies is not born out in the gestures that accompany them. In some Eastern rites all the chants of the people cease during the words of institution so the congregation can hear them when apparently it is not crucial that they hear any other parts of the Eucharistic prayers. The Greeks actually kneel for the words of institution and in other rights the priest makes a solemn bow, touches the floor and crosses himself after the words are spoken over each of the elements, a progression of gestures which is found in no other part of the liturgy.

Thus, we have to look at the priestly antecedants of Christ, the apostles and their successors. These would be the Levitical priesthood of the Temple. Not only are they male, but the victims of their sacrifices also had to be all male.

Thus, it is not the liturgical tradition which sets up absolute distinctions between East and West but the polemical tradition–a tradition of contradistinction which is a relflection of the post Imperial East rather than the East of the undivided Church. Witt tries to play divide and conquer between East and West over WO. But, East and West will withstand his assaults because in reality they are not two opposing systems, but two complimentary (sic) ones.

Fr. J's first response here.


A Further Response to William Witt on "In Persona Ecclesiae"

In answer to those many Anglican folks in ACNA and elsewhere who seem to believe that William Witt has spoken the last word on the question of women's ordination to the priesthood, I noted here that it's far from the last word on the matter.  As one example from Anglican circles, I've referenced this article and combox discussion from the the Anglican Continuum as an example of how opposition to Witt's arguments, specifically to his notion that the president at the Eucharist stands in persona ecclesiae, is shaping up.  Today I found this article and combox discussion at a Roman Catholic blog.  Here is the text of the blog entry by "Fr. J" and salient quotations from the comments section:

Recently, Professor William Witt, an Episcopalian, has introduced a novel argument in favor of Women’s Ordination.

Historically, Orthodoxy has held that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae (in the person of the church), and that consecration takes place through the epiclesis.

Historically, the Western Church has held that the priest acts in persona christi, and that consecration takes place at the words of institution.

In ecumenical discussions/debates, this difference has long been a point of contention between East and West, with the East insisting that their position is correct, and that the West’s position is seriously mistaken.  In ecumenically agreed statements, the eucharistic model that has come to dominate in the last half century is the epicletic one, without explicit acknowledgment that this is a move toward the Eastern position.

During the second half of the twentieth century (and, to my knowledge, not before), Roman Catholic theologians began arguing that women could not be ordained because they could not represent Christ, i.e., could not act in persona christi.

Shortly afterward, Eastern Orthodox theologians who were opposed to WO, suddenly began adopting the Latin argument about women being unable to represent Christ, without acknowledging that this was yielding to a Latin understanding of consecration that they had fiercely resisted previously.

AFAIK, no one has ever argued that men cannot be ordained because a man cannot represent the female church when the priest acts in persona ecclesiae.  So, when arguing for ecumenical unity, Western theologians have increasingly adopted the Eastern model, with an endorsement of the epiclesis, and, by implication, an endorsement of the Easern position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. 

When arguing against WO, the same theologians (and now Eastern theologians) have insisted that women cannot be ordained because they cannot represent Christ, with an implied (or rather explicit) endorsement instead of the Western position, that the priest acts in persona christi.

But, then, logical consistency is not always a strong suit when people are trying to find new justifications for a committed position when the old one clearly will not do any more.  As they say, any stick will do to beat a horse.

Here is my response:

There is a clear coupling in the West of the concepts of in persona christi and the words of institution as the central act.  The Western understanding binds these two because the consecration refers to “my” body, “my” blood.  That is, the priest speaks in the divine first person.  This is also true in absolution. “I absolve you…”  Again, the divine first person, thus in persona christi.

The Eastern position does not have a corollary necesity between emphasis on the epiclesis and the priest functioning in persona ecclesiae.

The differences between Eastern and Western traditions on Eucharistic theology are matters of emphasis and are not mutually exclusive.  Prior to the schism, the differences in emphasis between East and West were well known and were accepted as different but valid.  This is clear in that the comprehensive discussions of between East and West currently under way do not include these particularities of Eastern and Western conceptions of Eucharistic theology.

Differences over the formulation of transubstantiation notwithstanding, both systems are recognized by both East and West as valid.  Furthermore, they are essentially differences of emphasis.  Can not a priest function both in persona christi and in persona ecclesiae simultaneously?  Can not the divine action at the Eucharist take place at both the epiclesis and the consecration?

There are two poor assumptions that Witt makes here:

1.  That any shift in emphasis on the part of the West from the words of institution toward epiclesis implies a shift from in persona christi toward in persona ecclesiae.  While Rome’s system links the two issues, the East does not.

2.  If a shift  toward an emphasis on in persona ecclesia is occuring at all officially (an I havent seen evidence for that), it is not in any case a denial of in persona christi, as these are complimentary conceptions, not mutually exclusive ones.

In short, my problem with Witt’s argument is the phrase “by implication:”

So, when arguing for ecumenical unity, Western theologians have increasingly adopted the Eastern model, with an endorsement of the epiclesis, and, by implication, an endorsement of the Easern position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae

The argument from in persona christi against WO, still stands as it absolutely must.

Fr. J.


Fr. Gregory says: 

Fr J,

Prof Witt’s argument you quote above is incoherent. The priest (presbyter) does not act in the name of the Church but of the bishop–who Himself stands in the place of God the Father (and those the historical honorific, “father” for both bishops and priests).

As for his contention that the institution/epiclesis has been a point of contention–he makes the same mistake that any number of converts to either Church seem to make–a reliance on polemics and an ignorance of practice. Yes, certainly there has been, and is, a debate on this point. But, as you point out, a debate (even a polemical one) does not mean a rejection of the validity of the other’s celebration of the Eucharist.

Prof Witt’s argument is simply absurd.


Michael says:

FATHER GREGORY; thank you for your helpful contribution. Perhaps, I am stretching my neck too far, but I will venture to add, hoping for your Imprimatur: the priest’s prayer while the people sing Cherubicon implies that he acts in persona Christi. The prayer is long, moving, and beautiful, and I am sorry that I have to cut it “to the point”. But here is the extract:

“And by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, enable me who am clothed with the grace of the priesthood to…celebrate the sacred mystery of Thy holy and most pure Body and precious Blood…. For onto Thee I come…make these gifts worthy to be offered to Thee, by me, thy sinful servant. For Thou art He that offers and He that is offered.”

Kucharek (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) says that this prayer can be traced back to the 8th century Codex Barberini (p. 481). Eight centuries later the doctrine was adopted by the Council of Trent in its Decree on the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (D. 940), and it was later taken up by Pius XII in the Encyclical Mediator Dei. One the other hand, it can be traced back to St. Augustine:

“Now as in this sacrament Christ is both giver and gift (for he gives himself to us), so also he is both what is offered and he who offers.” I took it from F.Clark: Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation, 1960, p.527.

On the other hand, it has always been the faith of the Catholic Church that the priest is at the same time the “Secondary Sacrificig Priest”, as well as the person acting on behalf of the Church, who unites herself with the Christ’s self-sacrifice. His prayers are predominantly the “we” – prayers, rarely “I” – prayers.


Michael says:

.FATHER GREGORY, here it is verbatim. I only vaguely know that I took it from an interview, probably while he was on the Lambeth Conference.

“For example, the question of women priests and bishops. Most Orthodox would say, we should not ordain women. But if you ask them why not, they will say that it has never been done; they will appeal to tradition. But you press them a little farther, and say that there must be a reason why women have never been ordained as priests. The argument from tradition merely tells you that they have never been ordained as priests, but it does not tell you why. Surely there must be some theological reason. On the one hand, the Orthodox are certain and clear in their answer. Most of us would say, no, we could not ever ordain women. Yet others would say, it is for us essentially an open question. We are not proposing to do so in the near future, but we need to reflect more deeply on it. If all we say is, “impossible, never,” we perhaps should ask ourselves, what are the implications for our understanding of human nature, of the difference between male and female, for our understanding of the priesthood and the relationship of the priest to Christ. That is an example of how your questions are perhaps to some extent also our questions. ”

Father, please, do not misunderstand me. It was not my intention to bring in this matter, but you started with that Greek lady, and I thought it would be of interest.

Witt misrepresents the Catholic position. The crucial reason is liturgical, which is not merely negative but normative (Inter Insignores 4/7). The main body of Catholic sacramental theology has been worked out, not from the NT, but from the insight into the sacraments as they are celebrated. Trent’s teaching that the Church has no power over the substance of the sacraments was repeated by Pius XII, and the CDF has brought the same point in the context of the ordination of women (ibid. 4/4). The Church hands on the received Message through her “doctrine, life and worship” (DV 8). I dare say this is the Orthodox position too, but not officially articulated.

The Church has never ordained women simply because she has no authority to do so. The Primary Minister of all sacraments is Christ – the human minister acts in His person. Other reasons are secondary and not essential.

As soon as I get some more time I’ll deal with Witt’s other fabrications.

Further to my comment on the 4th November (i.e. that the Church has no authority…), supposing a pope carries out what externally appears to be the rite of ordination of a woman, and supposing that woman “celebrates” what externally appear to be the Mass, who can guarantee that the bread and wine will become the Body and Blood of Christ, and that the rite itself will be Christ Self–Sacrifice? That it would be the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, instead of a great offence against God, from which offence neither those present, nor those absent, whether living or dead, would benefit.

Witt argues from the position of a non-believer, in the sense that the Transubstantiation, Christ’s Self-Sacrifice, and the benefits of it do not ensue, and the priesthood in true sense doesn’t exists. So, to him it doesn’t matter who is the celebrant: she or he is nothing but an appointee of the community.

And he says: “During the second half of the twentieth century (and, to my knowledge, not before), Roman Catholic theologians began arguing that women could not be ordained because they could not represent Christ, i.e., could not act in persona christi.”

No, it is the other way round. For nearly two thousand years, the Church has never come to the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood. It all started in the 5th or 6th decade of the last century, not in the Church but among Protestants in Sweden, thereafter among other Protestants, and the first response of the Catholic Church was the Paul VI letter to Dr. Coggan, of 30th November 1975, listing as the “fundamental reasons”: example of Christ, constant practice of the Church, and “her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with he God’s plan for his Church.”

The CDF took up the matter in 1976, saying: “As we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched upon, the current argumentation runs the risk of neglecting essential elements” (Inter Insignores, Introduction, para 4), and starts immediately by putting concisely (ibid. para 5) what Paul VI wrote 1975: “ the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.” It than goes on elaborating: constant Tradition (1), attitude of Christ (2), practice of the Apostles (3). It is followed by an insistence on the permanent value of all this (4), some aspects of which I mentioned last time: normative character of tradition, no power over the substance of sacraments.

My reading is that these are the fundamental reasons. Only then (6) the Declaration introduces the issue which Dr.Witt, seems to consider crucial, and attributes to theologians (who “begun arguing”); and explicitly (the issue, that is) “not…as demonstrative argument”, but as a clarification “by the analogy of faith” (6/1), explaining that the priest also acts in persona ecclesiae, “which is the Body of Christ,…precisely because he first represents Christ himself who is the Head and the Shepherd of the Church” (6/8).

The Declaration had usual approval of the Paul VI who “ordered its publication”.

Professor Witt says: “logical consistency is not always a strong suit when people are trying to find new justifications for a committed position”

Perfectly correct. He is more than an example, because he is not merely trying to argue a new justification from facts, but fabricates the facts themselves to find new justification.

The “in persona Christi” v. “in persona Ecclesiae”, are secondary issues; the doctrine would stand on very sandy ground if it depended on either of the two arguments. And he presents them as central.

But that aside, Witt doesn’t seem aware that the Orthodox view of the Epiclesis is not what he imagines. Here is Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware: The Orthodox Church, 1972, p. 290):

“Orthodox… do not teach that the consecration is effected solely by the Epiclesis, nor do thy regard the Words of Institution as an incidental and unimportant…they look upon the entire Eucharistic Prayer as forming a single and indivisible whole…Thanksgiving, Anamnesis, Epiclesis – all form an integral part of one act of consecration. But this…means that if we are to single out a ‘moment of consecration’ such a moment cannot come until the Amen of the Epiclesis.”

Would Witt escape by saying: ok., but then the priest says the whole prayer in persona ecclesiae. No, because Christ prays with the Church as the Head of His Body. (“Why do you persecute Me?”) The priest prays as a consecrated minister of the Church – in persona ecclesiae, as well as an individual. But the Church is inseparable from Christ, so the priest acts in His person as well.

The Orthodox supposed emphasis on “in persona ecclesiae” doesn’t mean “only in persona ecclesiae”, doesn’t rule out “in persona Christi”. Nor does the Latin emphasis on “in persona Christi”, rule out “in persona ecclesiae”, as it is evident from the Inter Insignores quoted last time.

On the other hand, the Roman Canon has an invocation, analogous to Epiclesis in this prayer prior to the Institution:

Quam Oblationem, tu Deus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptbilemque facere digneris: ut nobis Corpus and Sanquinem fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

The only difference is that it is addressed to God to make the oblation acceptable to be the Body and Blood; while in the Epiclesis He is asked to send the Holy Spirit to do it.

Fr. J's second response here.


For My Readers in the Pittsburgh Area. . .

along with all those many others from elsewhere who are checking in on my exchanges with William Witt, please feel absolutely free to comment here if you so desire.  Be just as critical or supportive as you need to be.  For the former, understand that, unlike certain Anglican bloggers and Facebook denizens, I won't delete your posts or block you.  About the only thing you can do to get blocked here is to be a spammer a' spammin'. 


Justification and Grace in Bernard of Clairvaux

I have discussed here and elsewhere the fact that Augustine's theology on grace and free will has not only shaped the theology of the Latin West but has historically been accepted as a valid Catholic theologoumenon, even if many in the Catholic Church have opposed it.  The strength of Augustine's school in the Catholic Church waxed and waned over the centuries, but it gained new momentum in the late Middle Ages.  Bernard of Clairvaux was one such notable Augustinian, and Lutheran pastor Jordan Cooper writes here that many of Bernard's views on grace, however inchoate, foreshadowed the teaching of the Reformers.

Presbyterian theologian B.B. Warfield is famous, among many other things, for his statement that the Reformation represented the triumph of Augustine's view of grace over his view of the church.  Whatever seemingly logical developments took place in the Protestant churches (therein lies one of the problems with the Reformation) as a result of the Reformers' embrace of Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo wouldn't have approved of much that transpired in the Reformation, and he may very well have condemned the whole thing outright.  This is probably true of Bernard as well.

We have, as Anglicans, a way to unite the theology of sovereign, unmediated grace and that of the mediated sacramental grace of the Church.  We even have an pre-Reformation Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Bradwardine, who with Bernard saw no conflict between the two.  And given our susceptibility to the Anglican Disease, it's time we get going on the project to restore Catholic authority in our church.

That was the word we received from the recent International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, and I was happy to see this statement from Arthur Middleton, whose paper was read there by Bishop Keith Ackerman (emphasis mine).

It has always been the Anglican claim that in faith and order the Anglican Communion is continuous in identity with the Primitive Church. It is no new Church. Today's contest is between modern liberal ecclesiology and the Anglican mind in a time when the majority of people in the Church and the nation have been brainwashed by the secular mind, which they use to displace the claims of the Anglican mind. It is the presuppositions of this secular mind and its politically correct ideology that is determining the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion that must be displaced. This is not a matter of politics but a matter of faith and theology. Like the divines of the seventeenth century the way forward is by pursuing the Anglican way back to prescriptive sources by upholding Canon A5 which states that the doctrine of the Anglicanism is grounded in the Holy Scripture and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.


Anglican and Other Resources on the Church's Historic Position Concerning an All-Male Priesthood


An Exchange Between William Witt and Me on Women's Ordination

From the Anglican Church in North America Facbook page, June 2014, with minor revisions and additions:

Patricia Hanlon:

For those interested, I recommend Bill Witt's series of blog posts on women's ordination. Bill teaches systematic theology at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. Smart man, irenic to boot, and well worth engaging with, whether you agree or disagree!


I will hazard a guess that many posters here are aware of Dr. Witt's position on the matter and the arguments he's advanced to defend it. It's not the last word on the question of women's ordination to the priesthood by any stretch of the imagination.

William G. Witt:

I have been composing a series of articles that will eventually comprise a single coherent argument. However, in order to deal fairly with the arguments of those who are opposed to WO, it is necessary to address all the major objections one at a time. At this point, I am still in the process of responding to the Protestant objections of "complementarians." I have not yet even begun to address the Catholic arguments, which are a different kettle of fish entirely.

The argument by Fr. Latimer above is a Roman Catholic argument, i.e., the priest acts in persona christi, and so, a female priest cannot represent Christ. However, the Orthodox position is that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae, a position that has Anglican support as well, (e.g., R.C. Moberley). Modern agreed ecumenical statements, (e.g., ARCIC), have endorsed both kinds of language. The priest acts both in persona christi and in persona ecclesiae.

However, as everyone knows, the church as the Bride of Christ is feminine. If a male priest can represent a female church (in persona ecclesiae), and not be accused of being a "man in drag," then it makes no sense to suggest that a female priest creates a "lesbian wedding reception" (in persona christi). If a male priest can represent a female church, then a female priest can represent a male Christ.

The priest is an icon of Christ, but precisely as pointing away from him or herself to Christ, not as representing Christ by his or her gender. And a woman can do that just as well as a man.

At any rate, this is a big project. I have had to put it aside for awhile as I have had to deal with the normal end of semester tasks, but now that summer is here, I am already working on the next essay, which is a discussion of Ephesians 5.

Those who want the whole thing will just have to wait until the whole thing is done.


It should be noted in connection with Dr. Witt's observations about Catholic and complementarian arguments against WO that both camps' arguments represent authentic instances of "task theology" such as we see in St. Paul's argument against the Judaizers or the orthodox Fathers arguments against the Arians. That is to say, the arguments have arisen suddenly in response to unexpected challenges to the orthodox status quo, forcing the orthodox defenders to articulate what has in the past been less explicit but assumed as true. This is why Witt's insinuation that the "newness" of the Catholic in persona Christi argument militates against its validity is untenable. "Homoousion" was also "new" at the time, and was even rejected by the church in another theological context, but "homoousion" is now what we confess in the Creed nevertheless.

This is precisely the dynamic in Roman Catholic and Orthodox circles as their theologians "scramble" to answer the arguments of the pro-WO inside and outside of their ranks. One such work from a Catholic author that must not go unread is Manfred Hauke's Women in the Priesthood?:
A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption. There are more recent works as well, but authors and titles have escaped me for now. The point is, if you're going to rely on the works of scholars such as Dr. Witt for scholarly authority, just understand that there are extremely able scholars on the other side currently "composing" arguments as well.

I have been asked why Anglican WO supporters should care about what the Catholics or Orthodox say or do. My response is that to the extent that Anglicanism is going to perpetuate the argument that it is merely one branch of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, then it better darn well care what the other two branches say and do. They say that this is a first order doctrine, and they act accordingly by not ordaining women to the priesthood. Woe to the Anglican supporter of WO who ignores them if they're right.

John M. Linebarger:

Fr. Christopher Little, your points are well taken. However, I just like the way William G. Witt's mind works, even though I don't (yet?) agree with him on this point. He is always worth considering in detail, IMHO. Have you read his PDFs on Baptism? or on Anglican Theology? Wonderful syntheses.


I've read some of his lengthy blog articles and have his blog linked on mine. I agree with him on so much, just not this.

William G. Witt:

Christopher Little,

My objection against the Protestant complementarian and Catholic sacramental arguments against WO is not that they are new. All three positions -- pro-WO and the Protestant and Catholic anti-Wo -- are new positions in response to changes in the culture that did not exist prior to the industrial revolution. The historical argument was that women cannot be ordained because they are inherently inferior to men and subject to emotional instability. That position is no longer held by anyone. All sides in the debate now agree that women are ontologically equal to men. The question for women's orders is, in light of the abandonment of the historical reasons for opposition to WO, what should be the church's response?

The Protestant complementarian and Catholic sacamentalist response is to come up with new reasons to be opposed to WO. My problem is not that the arguments are new. It is that they are not convincing.

You mention Hauke's book. IMHO, the best summary of the Catholic anti-WO argument is Sara Butler, The Catholic Priesthood and Women. This book lays out the issues in a calm and non-polemical way,Butler is honest in acknowledging that a real shift has taken place in Catholic theology as a result of the affirmation of the ontological equality of women and that the traditional arguments against WO will not work. She acknowledges that the in persona christi argument first appeared in Paul VI's Inter Insigniores in 1976. Anglo-Catholics have embraced this argument, but it is based on an understanding of eucharistic theology that first appeared (to the best of my knowledge) in Thomas Aquinas -- an understanding that has been challenged or at least complemented in modern ecumenical discussion.

The Latin Medieval theological position that the priest acts in persona christi must at least be complemented with the Eastern Orthodox position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. Once that move is made, the objection based on gender representation collapses.


Thanks, Dr. Witt, for your clarification. Regarding my point concerning the task theology being done by Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians in response to pressure inside and outside of their ranks to ordain women to the priesthood, you write (emphases mine):

"My objection against the Protestant complementarian and Catholic sacramental arguments against WO is not that they are *new*. All three positions -- pro-WO and the Protestant and Catholic anti-Wo -- are *new* positions in response to changes in the culture that did not exist prior to the industrial revolution."

That was my point, however, when I referenced your argument against the "newness" of their defenses of a male-only priesthood.

Butler's work is one of the sources I was trying to think of in my last post. Thanks for that reminder. The other Roman Catholic scholar I was trying to recall who defends the traditional view is Monica Migliorino Miller, who is critical of certain aspects of Butler's work.  Another work by Orthodox scholars that Anglicans need to read is
Women and the Priesthood (Thomas Hopko, ed.).

It hardly needs to be said that no one on our side of the fence, whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, will agree with your argument that once the Catholic view is complemented by the Orthodox view, "the objection based on gender representation collapses." It is not quite that simple.

I believe it was Fr. RJ Neuhaus who wrote words to this effect: "To the extent that one can say 'never' in this world, it is safe to say that the Orthodox will never ordain women to the priesthood." Same is true, I would say, of the Roman Catholic church in light of recent papal pronouncements and the way the ongoing task theology in Roman ranks in developing. And as I observed in my previous post, the Catholic and Orthodox churches believe this to be a belief of the "first order", and if Anglicanism truly believes itself to be a branch of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, the advocates of WO in its midst need to think longer and harder than they currently are about their position.

William G. Witt:

I have withdrawn two of my own comments in the WO discussion. It is indeed time to take this conversation offline.

(End of exchange.  For a critique of Witt's argument that the presider at the Eucharist stands "in persona ecclesiae",  see the Continuum article and combox discussion here.  See also my blog entry "PhD Anglicanism" and the Anglican Disease).


From A.W. Tozer



You Know, Mine Is a Fairly Simple Proposition

We start with theologically controlling apostolic teachings on grace like this one:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved —  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.   For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.   For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Eph. 2: 1-10, ESV)

Forget about all of the other biblical data that complement the theology of this passage; from it alone we can deduce the whole of Augustine's and some of the Refomers' teaching on original sin, predestination, election, and justifying and sanctifying grace.  But for the grace of God operating in a man's life, he will not understand or accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is simply unapostolic to deny the objective and unmediated grace of God that will always operate in the lives of the elect.  St. Augustine correctly deduced from Holy Scripture that God's grace is "operative", that is, it comes to bear directly upon elect men and women,  "in order that", he repeatedly stressed,  they come to faith in Christ.  But it is also "co-operative", which means that even the good works of the elect are attributable to the grace of God.  "For we are **his** workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

However, Reformed and Evangelical Christians are wrong to deny or minimize the role that the Church and her sacraments play in the deifying role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.  Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.  That was something that even John Calvin believed.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. . . .  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. . . .  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. . . .  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. . . . The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?"

Neither unmediated grace nor mediated grace operates without the other.   Why has this been so difficult to grasp by so many?

Yes, Anglicanism is a Protestant church, but Protestant only in a very narrow, well-defined sense.  It is Protestant only to the extent that it believes what Augustine believed about grace but ALSO about the church.  Like a broken record here:

The genius of the Protestant Reformation is the recognition that, during the Middle Ages, "ecclesial creep" in both the Western and Eastern portions of the Church had for all practical intents and purposes replaced Old-Law works righteousness with a new works righteousness based on the respective "New Law" of the West (the Penance-Merits-Purgation-Indulgences doctrinal phalanx) and of the East (the imposition of the Monastic Typicon upon the laity).

Furthermore, . . . the formularies of classical Anglicanism did a better job of retaining the wheat of the orthodox catholicism of the ancient Church while jettisoning the chaff of innovative medieval accretion than did any other segment of the Reformation. This is why Anglicanism can, perhaps uniquely, lay equal claim to the appellations Protestant and Catholic and affirm both without any sense of inconsistency or incoherence. Indeed, strictly speaking, in proper understanding of each term, to truly be one, you must be both.

"We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church."  Get that through your heads, you Protestant Anglicans who defend everything from iconoclasm to women's ordination; we stand on the shoulders of giants dubbed the "Church Fathers", and we are answerable to them.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. "  Get that through your heads, you Anglo-Catholics who think that the "elect" are all those who have undergone the rite of Christian baptism and that God does not sovereignly awaken to spiritual regeneration some and not others, oftentimes quite apart from the sacramental life of the Church.


Second Thoughts

A couple of years ago I posted something here regarding my vote of no confidence in the Anglican Continuum with respect to the future of orthodox Anglicanism.  I think it's time to revise that, especially after what happened at the recent International Congress of Catholic Anglicans, and also in light of much of Realignment Anglicanism's inablilty to come to an orthodox understanding of the role of man and woman in the home, society and church viewed in the light of orthodox triadology, christology, and the apostolic and catholic understanding of the created order. 

Joel Wilhem believes that when ACNA makes its decision about women's ordination, possibly this January, it won't be a wise one.  If and when that happens, that will very possibly cause a split in ACNA, and if so, there may be some interesting talks between its traditionalist faction and the Continuum, which had a significant present at the recent Congress.

I for one will not participate in any way, shape or form in the future with any Realignment province or diocese that countenances the ordination of women to the priesthood.  There are not "dual integrities" with respect to this issue.  There is only one integrity, one "tradition" (παράδοσιν) that has been passed down to us by the Church.  Anglicans were never at liberty to change it.