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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

Tuesday
Aug262014

Why Has Wright Struck Such a Chord?

I am especially intrigued by Ferguson's sociological analysis.  I knew the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" existed in Australia and New Zealand.  It's not surprising therefore that it exists in the UK as well.  Sinclair paints an accurate view of the unfortunate American tendency to follow gurus, and the way much of American Evangelicalism is so uncritical in this regard.  It only plays into the hands of the Cathodox enemies of the Reformation.

Why Has Wright Struck Such a Chord?

Wednesday
Aug202014

Another Reason We Need to Be About the Business of the Gospel

Tuesday
Aug192014

Death Hath Deprived Me

Thomas Weelkes.  Performed by Vox Luminis.

Thomas Weelkes is best known for his vocal music, especially his madrigals and church music. Weelkes wrote more Anglican services than any other major composer of the time, mostly for evensong. Many of his anthems are verse anthems, which would have suited the small forces available at Chichester Cathedral. It has been suggested that larger-scale pieces were intended for the Chapel Royal.

Tuesday
Aug192014

Journey to Anglicanism

Tuesday
Aug192014

Hear My Prayer

Henry Purcell.

Proof there is a God.

Tuesday
Aug192014

Don't Touch That Dial

Blogging's been slow recently, I know, but that's partly because I've been very busy.  I currently have a couple of humdingers taking shape in my head, which are based on my current reading (e.g., Nockles on the Oxford Movement) and exchanges with Anglo-Catholics and others at ACNA and other Anglican discussion boards on Facebook.  They'll be posted here in the weeks ahead.

In preparation for these items, have a look at Gillis Harp's article Recovering Confessional Anglicanism and J.I. Packer's The Anglican Commitment to Comprehensiveness, both of which have been posted here, but thus far with no comment.  Be sure also to read the article by Diarmaid MacCulloch I linked in the blog entry immediately below.

I will also have an important announcement in late September.

Thursday
Aug142014

Diarmaid MacCulloch on Anglo-Catholic Revisionism

"I had two agendas in mind in constructing this title. The first is the ongoing task of asserting that England did indeed have a Reformation in the sixteenth century. This might seem superfluous: after all, we have all heard of Henry VIII and his marital troubles, and we have all heard of bloody Mary and good Queen Bess defeating the Spanish Armada with a fine speech and a dose of English bad weather laid on by t...he Almighty. But the Church of England has over the last two centuries become increasingly adept at covering its tracks and concealing the fact that it springs from a Reformation which was Protestant in tooth and claw. This labour of obfuscation began with the aim of showing that Anglicans were as good if not better Catholics than the followers of the Pope. It then continued with the perhaps more worthy aim of finding a road back to unity with Rome, in the series of ecumenical discussions which began in 1970, known by the acronym ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission). The participants in these discussions have not been anxious to emphasise difference, and very often they have fallen back on the Anglo-Catholic rewriting of English church history pioneered by John Keble and John Henry Newman in the 1830s, as the Oxford Movement took shape. A good deal of my career has been spent trying to undo the Anglo-Catholic view of history, not because I think that Anglo-Catholics are bad people, but simply because within their ranks over a century and a half, there has been a troupe of historians who have been too clever for their own good."

(Read the entire article here.  I will also link this article in the left sidebar.)

Saturday
Aug092014

Aussie Military Strategist: We’ll Fight Radical Islam for 100 Years

"Australia needs to prepare for an increasingly savage, 100-year war against radical Islam that will be fought on home soil as well as foreign lands, the former head of the army, Peter Leahy, has warned."

News flash: we've been fighting it for 1,400 years. It's just that the modern political elite is in denial. Political correctness keeps them there.

On a related note, it's easy for us Christians to harbor a spirit of revenge when we reflect on the atrocities ISIS is currently perpetrating against the defenseless civilian population in Iraq, which includes Muslims.  Revelation 6:9-11 reflects a righteous Christian desire for retribution, and I for one would love to see ISIS destroyed.   At a minimum, the West should to its best to arm anti-Jihadist forces everywhere. 

But we must be aware of two things:  1) the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church; and 2) there are stories emanating from all parts of the Islamic world not only of disaffection with Islam but of conversions to Christianity.  And because Christian missionary activity is not allowed in Muslim lands, Muslims are coming to Christ by reading bootlegged Bibles and from visions received from heaven.  I don't know the provenance of this video and so I'm a little hesitant to post it, but, his tears might be a sign of authenticity. Even if fake, it is reflective of what indeed seems to be happening among Muslims:

Like the Calorene solidier Emeth in The Last Battle, Muslims like the man in this video are finding Christ, though in the most unlikely of places.  God knows the hearts of his elect, like he knew the heart of Cornelius, another unexpected member of the Church who became so because of a vision received from God.  He will save them missionary or no missionary, and the current horror just might prove to be, for many Muslims, the catalyst of their salvation.

That being said, if the Lord so tarries, we will indeed be fighting radical Islam for another hundred years,   and the current political elite will have to be shoved out of the way in order for us to effectively fight it, because they simply aren't able to man up.  

Behold, the need for a new Crusade is suddenly upon us. 

Thursday
Aug072014

Transfiguration of Christ (August 6)

O WONDROUS TYPE (Transfiguration; translated by J.M. Neale)

1 O wondrous sight, O vision fair
of glory that the church shall share,
which Christ upon the mountain shows,
where brighter than the sun he glows!...

2 From age to age the tale declare,
how with the three disciples there,
where Moses and Elijah meet,
the Lord holds converse high and sweet.

3 The law and prophets there have place,
two chosen witnesses of grace;
the Father's voice from out the cloud
proclaims his only Son aloud.

4 With shining face and bright array
Christ deigns to manifest today
what glory shall be theirs above
who joy in God with perfect love.

5 And faithful hearts are raised on high
by this great vision's mystery,
for which in joyful strains we raise
the voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

Saturday
Jul192014

Two Relevant Articles

The first is by Al Mohler on the Church of England's decision to open its episcopate to women.  Sound of nail being hit on head here:

This is the kind of “compromise” that pervades mainline liberal Protestantism. It shifts the church decisively to the left and calls for mutual respect. Conservatives are to be kindly shown the door. Ruth Gledhill of The Guardian [London], one of the most insightful observers of religion in Great Britain, recognized the plight of the evangelicals, though she celebrated the vote: “In the last 69 episcopal appointments, there have been evangelicals but not a single conservative one.” In this context, “conservative” means more concerned with doctrinal matters and opposed to a change in the church’s teachings on gender and human sexuality. But, as Gledhill recognized, “This wing of the church is where so much of the energy is, giving rise not just to growth, but also that necessary resource, cash.”

Yes, there is another pattern to recognize — evangelicals have the growth and the cash, just not the votes. The talk about mutual flourishing is really an argument to remain in the church and keep paying the bills.

Ruth Gledhill is profoundly right about another aspect of Monday’s vote as well. It won’t stop with women bishops. “Now the church can move into the 20th century, although perhaps not the 21st,” she wrote. “A change on gay marriage would be needed to do that.” Well, stay tuned, as they say. The same church now has bishops living and teaching in open defiance of the church’s law on sexuality as well.

There is a very real sense in which Monday’s vote was inevitable. Once the church had decided to ordain women as priests, the elevation of women to bishop was only a matter of time. But the Church of England explicitly claims apostolic succession back to the earliest years of the church, traced through bishops. That is why virtually every major media outlet in Britain acknowledged, at least, that the vote reversed 2,000 years of Christian tradition. They also tended to note that the vote came after 20 years of controversy.

Evidently, 2,000 of years of tradition was no match for 20 years of controversy.

The second article is one from Carl Trueman on Reformed theology for a church in exile.  I discern a bit of synchronicity in the way these two articles appeared almost at the same time.  When I read them, they make me almost wish orthodox Presbyterian churches would create their own Anglican Ordinariates.

Almost.  I intend to die an Anglican, but I agree with Trueman's article and its applicability to the future of Anglicanism, if it is to have much of one.  At ACNA's first Inaugural Assemby in 2009, then-OCA Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen addressed the crowd in an ecumenical capacity.  Jonah had a number of recommendations for the new church, all of which predictably amounted to "become Orthodox."  A principal recommendation, pontificated Jonah: lose your Calvinism and your other "Reformation heresies."  No surprises there, but I think our own particular, historical brand of "Calvinism" is exactly what we need to find, or exile may be the least of our worries.

Saturday
Jul192014

One Picture; A Thousand Words

                

Story and additional photos of interesting array of clerical dress here

Commentary:  "Church of England.  Why do you ask?"

Thursday
Jul172014

Fr. Robert Hart Knocks One Out of the Park

Monday
Jul142014

Contra Mundum Redux

Mark Tooley on St. Athanasius' steady and unrelenting defiance of the Powers That Be.  Words for today, as traditional Christians will be, and even now are, facing Antichrist's onslaught both in the secular realm and the ecclesial one.  I don't know about you, but these things don't depress me;  they only make me relish the fight.

And we have a hero in this regard in the person of the venerable and indefatigable orthodox bishop of Alexandria. 

Sunday
Jun292014

Lent and the Academic Theologian

Saturday
Jun282014

Kings and Presidents

           

Thursday
Jun262014

I Wish I Had Read This Book as a Young Seminarian

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.  Please see the editorial and customer reviews to get a sense of what Thielicke was trying to communicate to men being groomed for ministry.  Though I wasn't being groomed for the ministry back in the early 80s, I developed exactly the same kind of mindset the author warns against.  Thank God the church was protected back then from the likes of me, and thank Him as well that both the years and the school of hard knocks have instilled in me a different mind.  Now, at age 60, I am finally fitted for ministry.  Or so that's what I think I've discerned, anyway.  The church has to discern it as well.

Throughout the years I have encountered a number of young theology students who either lost sight of what theology was supposed to be about or had never gained it in the first place.  Unfortunately, some of them have become pastors.  I pray they won't end up doing too much damage to themselves, their flocks and/or to the wider church, and that as they mature in their ministry they will develop better minds, being of course not a reference to what they know or their intellectual horsepower, but how they employ their knowledge pastorally. 

Anyway, I found a great review of Thielicke's book, which I am compelled to republish in its entirety.  It's from a Presbyterian blog called Ordained Servants Online, and if this article in any indication of the blog's spirit, the blogger has ordained servanthood down:

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians

Gregory E. Reynolds

When I think back on my brashness as a young theologian, I shudder; and whenever that same brashness rears its ugly head today, I shudder still; but age and Christian experience have at least taught me to recognize this monster within.

Very early in my Christian life, while still considering a call to the ministry, I came across a little booklet first published in 1962 by Eerdmans entitled A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.[1] I recognized the author, Helmut Thielicke (1908–86), from my reading of his Encounter with Spurgeon[2] in Bible school in 1972. I have exercised myself with this sage booklet at least once a decade ever since, and never without profit, since the demon of pride is ever in need of being exorcised.

While avoiding the dangerous dichotomy of setting the Christian life over against doctrine, Thielicke doesn't confuse the two by eliding doctrine into life. One without the other is a sign of spiritual illness. Thus, he addresses his seminary students like a wise father:

You can see that the young theologian has by no means grown up to these doctrines in his own spiritual development, even if he understands intellectually rather well the logic of the system ... There is a hiatus between the arena of the young theologian's actual spiritual growth and what he already knows intellectually about this arena.[3]

Thielicke goes on to liken early theological training to puberty, during which it is as unwise to unleash the novice on the church as a preacher, as it would be to let the young singer sing while his voice is changing.[4]

Furthermore, time spent in the lofty realms of truth makes the novice susceptible to the "psychology of the possessor," in which love is sadly absent. "Truth seduces us very easily into a kind of joy of possession."[5] "But love is the opposite of the will to possess. It is self-giving. It boasteth not itself, but humbleth itself." But when "truth is a means to personal triumph,"[6] the young theologian returns home with a keen sense of membership in an esoteric club, displaying his rarefied tools to the annoyance of all and the hurt of some. Thielicke observes, "Young theologians manifest certain trumped-up intellectual effects which actually amount to nothing."[7]

The only cure for this malady, insists Thielicke, is an active faith that cultivates love, that is, living one's faith out of love for God and those around us. Our theology must be worked out in the life of the church,

We must also take seriously the fact that the "subject" of theology, Jesus Christ, can only be regarded rightly if we are ready to meet Him on the plane where he is active, that is, within the Christian church.[8]

and it must be worked out in light of eternity,

A well-known theologian once said that dogmatics is a lofty and difficult art. That is so, in the first place, because of its purpose. It reflects upon the last things; it asks wherein lies the truth about our temporal and eternal destiny.[9]

and it must be worked out in spiritual battle,

Thus it is possible to become an eschatological romanticist ... Such a person nevertheless has not comprehended a penny’s worth of what it means to live on the battlefield of the risen Lord, between the first and second coming, waiting and praying as a Christian.[10]

Thielicke knew the true exercise of a theologian's faith in spiritual battle. In 1935, he was refused a post at Erlangen due to his commitment to the Confessing Church, which opposed National Socialism, and in which Dietrich Bonhoeffer was famously active. In 1936, he became professor of systematic theology at Heidelberg. But he was dismissed in 1940 after repeated interrogations by the Gestapo. He went on to pastor a church in Ravensburg, and in 1942 began teaching in Stuttgart, until the bombing in 1944, when he fled to Korntal. After the war ended, he began teaching at Tübingen, and finally in Hamburg, where he pastored the large congregation of St. Michaelis.

Finally, Thielicke warns the young theologian—older ones need this, too—to beware of reading Scripture only as a matter of exegetical endeavor rather than God’s "word to me." He urges a "prayed dogmatics,"[11] in which theological thought breathes "only in the atmosphere of dialogue with God."[12] "A person who pursues theological courses is spiritually sick unless he reads the Bible uncommonly often."[13]

While we will not agree with Thielicke's theology at every point, the gist of his message to young theological students is so pointed that there is nothing quite like it in English. Within our own tradition, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield delivered an address at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1911 entitled "The Religious Life of Theological Students."[14] In the strongest possible terms, Warfield pleads for a godly and learned ministry: "But before and above being learned, a minster must be godly. Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another."[15] He sums this emphasis up nicely, "Put your heart into your studies."[16]

No exercise in the young theologian's or minister's life is better calculated to keep him humble than regular contact with God himself. Warfield cautions his students:

I am here today to warn you to take seriously your theological study, not merely as a duty, done for God's sake and therefore made divine, but as a religious exercise, itself charged with religious blessing to you; as fitted by its very nature to fill all your mind and heart and soul and life with divine thoughts and feelings and aspirations and achievements. You will never prosper in your religious life in the Theological Seminary until your work in the Theological Seminary becomes itself to you a religious exercise out of which you draw every day enlargement of heart, elevation of spirit, and adoring delight in your Maker and Savior.[17]

We are, after all, called to be warriors; but the kind of spiritual warrior that Scripture calls us to be is not the gladiator seeking personal victory and glory, but rather the soldier of the cross who seeks to magnify the person of his Savior and Lord. J. Gresham Machen captured this spirit well in his sermon "Constraining Love." Christian militancy should never be confused with sectarian belligerence, hubris, or meanness of spirit. But pride can also move us to shrink in cowardice from defending the truth of the gospel. Machen made this clear in his sermon to the second general assembly of our, then, new church. How many movements, he asked,

have begun bravely like this one, and then have been deceived by Satan ... into belittling controversy, condoning sin and error, seeking favor from the world or from a worldly church, substituting a worldly urbanity for Christian love. May Christ's love indeed constrain us that we may not thus fall![18]

If Christianity teaches us nothing else it must teach us the value of the cross—the chief expression of God's constraining love for sinners. If we learn nothing else from the cross we must learn humility—a humility that clings to the Savior who died to save us. As we minister, whether young or old, we must always remember that "we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:7).

Endnotes

[1] Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, trans. Charles L. Taylor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962).

[2] Helmut Thielicke, Encounter with Spurgeon, trans. John W. Doberstein (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963).

[3] Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, 10.

[4] Ibid., 12.

[5] Ibid., 16.

[6] Ibid., 17, 19.

[7] Ibid., 11–12.

[8] Ibid., 23.

[9] Ibid., 27.

[10] Ibid., 29–30.

[11] Ibid., 33.

[12] Ibid., 34.

[13] Ibid., 40.

[14] Benjamin B. Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, ed. John E. Meeter (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1970), 1:411–25.

[15] Ibid., 412.

[16] Ibid., 416.

[17] Ibid., 417.

[18] J. Gresham Machen, "Constraining Love," in God Transcendent and Other Sermons, ed. Ned Bernard Stonehouse (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 141.

Ordained Servant Online, February 2012. 

Monday
Jun232014

Article X: Of Free Will. (From the American Anglican Council)

Wednesday
Jun182014

Peter Robinson on Anglican Identity

I have written about the Affirmation (of St. Louis) several times in this blog, so I am not going to bore you with a reiteration of my observations, except to say that it went somewhat beyond a restatement of the traditional Anglican position. Certainly many of its provisions have common sense on their side - such as the provision that a 'non-political' method of electing bishops be found. However, what seems to have slipped by, almost totally unobserved, was a small provision which if consistently followed would revolutionize the Church. It is the simple provision that all pre-existing formularies be interpreted in accordance with this Affirmation. On the face of it, this is a very simple and sensible declaration, but its implementation effectively side-lined the Reformation inheritance of Anglicanism by justifying and making normative the Anglo-Catholic rejection of the Articles and Homilies. It also created a second, Catholic, string of revisionism within the Anglican tradition, and led to enormous conflict within the new Continuing Church as it became clear that although diversity of liturgical practice would be tolerated - at least for the time being - the theology was going to be Anglo-Catholic, and those who held a differing point of view could put up or shut up.

For those whose roots were more in the "orthodox middle" of Episcopalianism the new situation was a difficult one, and it was clear that not all would remain within the new Anglican Catholic Church. The United Episcopal Church was the initial fruit of the post-1980 brake up of the St Louis Continuum, which in some respects is a heavy burden to bare. However, the UECNA hit upon a middle course - more by accident than design. A return was made to an only slightly modified version of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as they had stood in 1958, the only significant change to which was a specific protest in favour of the Articles of Religion in declaration of Conformity, coupled with a tendency to accept the moral and polity provisions of the Affirmation of St Louis. This neatly side stepped the "Catholic Revisionist" element of the Affirmation, but also committed the UECNA to the broad framework erected at St Louis.

The legacy of the 1960s and 70s remains with us in form of a great deal of unclearness about what constitutes Anglicanism. The worst aspect of this is that in addition to Liberal and Catholic Revisionists; we know have three streams Anglicans; Confessional Anglicans, and a half dozen other variants. At the end of the day, what we need more than anything else is a return to "mere" Anglicanism, an awareness of where we came from historically that can inform where the church should be going in the future. One of the beauties of Anglicanism has always been how it manages to be simultaneously both Catholic and Evangelical, and I suspect many of us are acutely aware of just how close we have come over the last forty years to loosing that side of our inheritance. Anglicanism, even orthodox Anglicanism, is always going to be a little bit frustrating for "Pure Ponders" who cannot cope with mess and differing ways of doing things, but it is that very messiness that makes Anglicanism so appealing for so many. Even in the days of rigid orthodoxy, Anglicanism always allowed different schools of thought to survive, even thrive, and it is that acceptance of a broad orthodoxy that we need to recover once more in order to thrive.

Read the entire article here.

Sunday
Jun082014

Nuts and Bolts of Liturgy

Thursday
Jun052014

The Prayer Book: It's History and Significance

 A talk by Fr. Ken Robertson of the Colorado Anglican Society.