“Jesus Christ was a personality cult. Would we have a stronger, better attended church if our parish priests had strong personalities which drew like-minded people into their churches? Or should we continue with that style of priesthood common in so many of our churches, which is a “lowest common denominator” style avoiding confrontation and offence, where sermons always start with “some people think” and are always qualified with an “on the other hand.” The latter allows congregations containing a broad range of beliefs and attitudes to worship together, but does it make better Christians? Even more important, would somebody entering such a church for the first time want to stay?”—The Rev. Jonathan Hagger in “The Personality of the Priest and the Potluck Church”
“I have yet to find an argument that I’ve found compelling to convince me that process thought does not, by virtue of taking away crucial elements of the divine omnipotence, seriously vacate the notion of divine providence. If the universe is free to act either in accord with or against God’s plan then it is possible that, contrary to God’s desires or intentions, the universe could propel itself, not toward God’s salvific purposes, but into a cosmic death spiral. Only if God’s intentions for the universe are understood to be implied by divine transcendence, and unalterable in principle except by God, is the idea of soteriology in any cosmic sense possible.”—“Scott Paeth Responds to the Process Theologians”
“Christianity begins in contradictions, in the painful effort to live with the baffling plurality and diversity of God’s manifested life - law and gospel, judgement and grace; the crucified Son crying to the Father. Christian experience does not simply move from one level to the next and stay there, but is drawn again and again to the central and fruitful darkness of the cross. But in this constant movement outwards in affirmation and inwards in emptiness, there is life and growth. The end is not yet; the frustrated longing for homecoming, the journey’s end, is unavoidable. Yet we can perhaps begin to see, through all the cost and difficulty, how we are entering more deeply into a divine life which is itself diverse and moving - Father and Son eternally brought to each other in Spirit. To discover in our ‘emptying’ and crucifying the ‘emptying’ of Jesus on his cross is to find God there, and so to know that God is not destroyed or divided by the intolerable contradictions of human suffering. He is one in the Spirit, and in the same Spirit includes us and our experience, setting us within his own life in the place where Jesus his firstborn stands, as sharers by grace in that eternal loving relationship, men and women made whole in him. In the middle of the fire we are healed and restored - though never taken out of it. As Augustine wrote, it is at night that his voice is hear. To want to escape the ‘night’ and the costly struggles with doubt and vacuity i to seek another God from the one who speaks in and as Jesus crucified. Crux probate omnia. There is no other touchstone. ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified … that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ (I Cor. 2:2,5).”—Rowan Williams, The Wound of Knowledge (via furnaceofdoubt)
“There are ethical corporations, yes, and ethical businesspeople, but ethics in capitalism is purely optional, purely extrinsic. To expect morality in the market is to commit a category error. Capitalist values are antithetical to Christian ones. (How the loudest Christians in our public life can also be the most bellicose proponents of an unbridled free market is a matter for their own consciences.) Capitalist values are also antithetical to democratic ones. Like Christian ethics, the principles of republican government require us to consider the interests of others. Capitalism, which entails the single-minded pursuit of profit, would have us believe that it’s every man for himself.”—William Deresiewicz in “Capitalists and Other Psychopaths”
“If one human being exists in the image of God, then all human beings exist in the image of God. None of us is more fully the image than another. In Christian teaching, Christ Himself is the definition of the image of God. To the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Christ is the answer. In Christian understanding, Christ as incarnate image of God is celebrated from conception (the feast of the Annunciation) to His ascension to the right hand of God. No quality of Christ (sentience, wisdom, volition, race, age, gender, etc.) defines or establishes His place as imago dei. He is the image of God. In the same manner, our own unqualified existence establishes us as the image of God.”—Father Stephen Freeman in “What is Man?”
“One of the startsi said to his disciple, ‘Watch, lest you harbour a traitor in yourself.’ ‘Who is the traitor?’ asked the disciple. ‘Self-gratification,’ answered the staretz. And this is indeed so. Self-gratification is the cause of all evils. If you examine all the bad things that you have done, you will see that in each case they originated from pandering yourself.”—Theophan the Recluse, The Art of Prayer, an Orthodox Anthology
“Those Christian opponents of slavery didn’t somehow “just know” that slavery was wrong — it seemed to them a gross denial of the Golden Rule. They read the Bible in a different way than the “commonsense” literalists who defended slavery, but it didn’t require some new, innovative form of liberal Protestantism. It simply required them to stop the “commonsense” practice of pretending that the book of Exodus didn’t exist or to stop relying on the “literal” reading that pretended Jesus did not announce his ministry by proclaiming Jubilee or …”—Fred Clark in “Slavery and same-sex marriage (cont’d.)” (via honor-not-honors)
No, I would describe it as (roughly) Texas High Church, but the liturgy is executed well and the music is great so I’m happy. All the truly spikey parishes in the DFW area are affiliated to the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth.
I like that it’s solidly Episcopalian and inclusive of gays and lesbians (unlike the rest of the Diocese of Dallas). I like that it’s solidly Christian and never inflicts hippie-dippie liturgies on me. I like that, while the parish may be ethnically homogeneous and located in a more affluent neighborhood, I’ve never felt out of place there. I honestly can’t think of anything I dislike. (And anyone who knows me knows that’s saying something.)
Though he was in the form of God,
Jesus did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at.
Rather, he emptied himself
and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.
He was known to be of human estate
and it was thus that he humbled himself,
obediently accepting even death,
death on a cross!
Because of this,
God highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
above every other name,
So that at Jesus’ name
every knee must bend
in the heavens, on the earth,
and under the earth,
and every tongue proclaim
to the glory of God the Father:
JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!
“The Holy Spirit, out of compassion for our weakness, comes to us even when we are impure. And if He finds our intellect truly praying to Him, He enters it and puts to flight the whole array of thoughts and ideas circling within it, and He arouses it to a longing for spiritual prayer.”—Evagrios the Solitary (via Simply Orthodox ☦: On the Holy Spirit)
We are facing serious challenges as a Church, of this there is no doubt. Yet all the restructuring we can achieve will be for naught if we have no sense of self, no reason for being the Church, and no hope of connecting with those outside our walls.
We offer hope in the face of the predations of fundamentalism and humanism. On the one hand, fundamentalists define the faith in such a way as to make it a laughingstock in the face of human progress and scientific achievement. Yet, equally destructive is the path of humanism which has given us liberal Protestantism. Humanism and liberal Protestantism have stripped mystery, spirituality, and symbolism away to the point where we have no compelling reason for people to even come to our churches – let alone for us to go out and evangelize.
Each has taken its toll on Christianity. There must be something else that the Church offers than knee-jerk reaction or hollow affirmation.
We offer, simply put, the sacred. We offer the sense that God is calling us to be a holy and living sacrifice as we are brought into his redeeming love. This happens in ways beyond understanding and can only be termed mystery. We offer a sacred way of being that sees all of our lives as consecrated for God’s use so that our selves and souls and bodies are fed and we, in turn, go out into the world, rejoicing as we draw others to Christ.
Gay men and lesbians are being made to pay the price of our society’s moral incoherence not only about sex, but about most of our moral convictions. As a society we have no general agreement about what constitutes marriage and/or what goods marriage ought to serve. We allegedly live in a monogamous culture, but in fact we are at best serially polygamous. We are confused about sex, why and with whom we have it, and about our reasons for having children.
This moral confusion leads to a need for the illusion of certainty. If nothing is wrong with homosexuality then it seems everything is up for grabs. Of course, everything is already up for grabs, but the condemnation of gays hides that fact from our lives. So the moral “no” to gays becomes the necessary symbolic commitment to show that we really do believe in soemthing.
”—Stanley Hauerwas in “Why Gays (as a Group) Are Morally Superior to Christians (as a Group)” (1993)
“The Reformation put a question of the utmost gravity to all Christians, a question about the continuity and dependability of the human response to God. It affirmed that the church was capable of error; that no amount of scholastic tidiness could guarantee fidelity to God; that there was in the church no secure locus of unquestionable authority. It pointed eloquently to human brokenness, the failure of reason and order. But it did so only to claim triumphantly that the church’s security lay in this very failure, in the insecurity and uprootedness which drove it always back to its spring in the Word make broken flesh. Against the self-sufficiency of Christendom is set - rightly and decisively - the cross. To Christians looking for a sign, an assurance, it offered only the ‘sign of the Son of Man,’ God hidden in the death of Christ. As the ground of theology (and everything with it), it offered, not a reasonable deduction, but an experience of hell, from the conviction that only in hell could the goodness of the good news be heard for what it was. Luther is a reminder to Catholic and Protestant alike that the strength of Christianity is its refusal to turn away from the central and unpalatable fact of human self-destructiveness; that is there, in the bitterest places of alienation, that the depth and scope of Christ’s victory can be tasted, and the secret joy which transforms all experience from within can come to birth, the hidden but all-pervading liberation.”—Rowan Williams, The Wound of Knowledge (via furnaceofdoubt)
One of the challenges for Anglo Catholics in the 20th and 21st centuries is that we have won much.
Eucharist as the central act of worship? Check.
Confession in the Prayer Book? Check.
Holy Week services in the BCP? Check.
The Gloria at the beginning of the Mass and the Peace? Check and Check.
A faithful social consciousness restored? Check.
There is much that the Catholic movement within Anglicanism has “won.” Yet, now there seems to be a need for a new Oxford Movement within the Church.
There is still much to do. The worry of the day is not that we have the externals in order. Our churches and clerics are also now adorned in ways which once would have caused scandal. Candles, vestments, and more are part of the standard Episcopal Church. The worry is that these things are the décor for a churchwide wake as we remember the good old days, are careful not to speak ill of wrongs that have contributed to the demise, and sing a song or two in fond farewell…
There has been much talk of restructuring the Church, this is good and proper, yet my fear is that we have no idea what we are building structures around. There are other Christian pan-Protestant denominations about that hover at the gates of universalism. There are social service agencies that can deliver needed services more efficiently than us…
We are facing not just a collapse of large parts of the Church, we are facing a collapse of leadership, nerve, and vision…
We have to begin, now, to rediscover what it means to be an Anglican Christian.
“It used to be said, “There’ll always be an England.” Now I’m not so sure. This drive to placate and comprehend logically (and theologically) contradictory positions within one ecclesiastical enterprise seems to be working in direct opposition to all of the talk about the bishop as “focus of unity” heard in recent days. How many contradictions can simultaneously be embraced in a single church? And what happens when a woman becomes Archbishop of York or Canterbury? Or is this just a waiting game, in the hopes that the opposition will end with this generation? But which will end first, the opposition or the Church?”—Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG in “Putting the English On It”
“A single Saint is an extraordinarily precious phenomenon for all mankind. By the mere fact of their existence – unknown, maybe to the world but known to God – the Saints draw down on the world, on all humanity, a great benediction from God…”—St. Silouan the Athonite (via Simply Orthodox ☦: An extraordinarily precious phenomenon)
"Some of them are the very same that are contained in the Creed; some others of them are practical truths, which come not within the proper list of points or articles to be believed; lastly, some of them are pious opinions or inferior truths, which are proposed by the Church of England to all her sons, as not to be opposed; not as essentials of Faith necessary to be believed by all Christians necessitate medii, under pain of damnation.” - John Bramhall, Archbishop of Armagh
Even if I take them in a Catholic sense (i.e., Newman in Tract 90), I still stumble over the articles that tell me that the civil power can tell me to swear oaths or serve in combat when my King has told me not to.
“Almighty God, you teach us by reason that all the riches of the world are made by you for our common use, and that by nature not one of them belongs to one human being more than to another; direct us, we pray, in obedience to your will, that all things may serve all people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”—St. Anselm of Canterbury (via christianradicalism)
“For an historic Church that is declining rapidly in a culture that no longer knows what it means to be Christian let alone Episcopalian, it might be beneficial to think of the Episcopal Church not as a dying institution that is in need of resuscitation but as a Church that needs re-planting.”—Father Robert Hendrickson in “Re-Planting the Episcopal Church: What can the Church learn from Church Planting?" (Read the full article.)
So, let’s see if I can total all this up. Traditional marriage is one man with multiple wives, multiple concubines, wives conquered in war and wives acquired in levirate marriage, possibly including girls under the age of ten, but definitely not including anyone of a different ethnic group, in an arranged marriage with disposition of property as its purpose. That seems very different from “one man, one woman,” does it not?
Of course, it’s easy to say that marriage as an institution evolves—but then, if we admit that, we have to admit that sanctioning loving, same-sex unions is just another step in that evolution. Perhaps this is why the Tony Perkinses of the world simply ignore the Bible when it doesn’t suit their purposes, instead preferring to make pseudo-scientific (and wholly unsupported) claims about what’s best for children and society. The Bible’s truths are just too inconvenient.
“Just in passing let me wonder why anyone is surprised that church attendance is in decline in America. If half the church is presenting a faith that makes God out to be a vindictive judge, and the other half is making God out to be an anodyne version of themselves, it’s actually amazing anyone goes to church at all.”—Sam Wells
In a more Biblically-literate and historically-acute nation, it would not be necessary to disown Jeremiah Wright. It would be possible for us to hear him and his message not as anti-American and hate-filled, but as prophetic. His voice and others like his are calling America to be just and moral and aware that while it holds great power, America is not God.
The Rev. Wright became infamous for those angry sermons in which he called America to task for its moral failures—for its treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two, for all the myriad ways in which America—despite its self-identification as a Christian nation—has been decidedly unchristian in its approach to peace, justice, and economic equity.
I am here today to testify that Jeremiah Wright was often both offensive and—theologically, biblically, doctrinally—right.