quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, July 25, 2008


As follow-up to the last post: America allows for the growth of the "mega-church" as the mega-church reflects the American ideal. So the largest mega-church seems to be a natural venue for a pre-election debate between presidential candidates.

The election process is not a concern. What catches the eye is the venue, a "church" as the meeting ground for a political debate such as this. We see how the "mega-church" defines the event just as the "mega-church" becomes defined by it. Such a debate gives the "mega-church" its ultimate purpose, meaning and role in a democratic society. A future president has a connection to the largest congregation in the land.

From another vantage point this raises the question of "church." The non-denominational approach is already a conscious attempt to flee from the traditional understanding of "church." Still, the name "church" is retained to attract the faithful. In short, this is "church" and it is "not church" at the same time.

So the question here becomes not so much the possibility of hosting such a debate or using a venue such as this but whether or not, if the ultimate purpose, meaning and role of "church" is re-defined as it has been and is being done in the public eye, that the word "church" still be included as a description or label for this venue or its continued gatherings following the great debate.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Liturgy's negative effects on the culture in which we live

Generally speaking, the main role and focus of the liturgy is man's relationship with God. The liturgy is the place where God and man meet. In a specific time and place man is uniquely connected to the supernatural or spiritual side of life and communicates with God (ie, prayer). God addresses man's need or inability to maintain his relationship with God because of sin through His presence in which man receives God's grace and blessing. Man responds faithfully to God's remembrance of him with the recounting of His great and marvelous deeds and acts of thanksgiving that bring praise and glory to God. In Christianity the nexus between God and man is Jesus. He is the perfect representative of man to God, the atonement for sin and the Man through whom God bestows His grace and blessing to man, that is, the forgiveness of sins.

Ongoing discussion of the liturgy among those from within my own Christian tradition reveals various levels of understanding, appreciation of and adherence to the historic liturgy that has been handed down in the Church through the centuries. Such discussion also reveals two distinct paths of opposition or hostility to the liturgy or to the discussion of it among us. First, there seems to be an "antinomian" approach to the liturgy. This approach is often suspicious of and, occasionally, hostile to things liturgical and even to the discussion of such things. The understanding appears to be that the liturgy is something to be tolerated at best, dissected or even totally changed. There are a number of reasons behind such thinking but, in short, the approach appears to be that liturgy is not the most important thing in life, nor is it very exciting and I have many more fun things to do with my time. Do not trample on my "freedom" or bother me with ritual (hence the often used defense-mechanism of "adiaphora"). Another path of opposition toward the liturgy and its discussion is the "pietistic" approach. The liturgy is placed in opposition to my personal "faith". I can choose what approach my personal faith life will take. The liturgy is just another way the Church gets in the way of my personal relationship with God. The "antinomian" approach tends toward the secular or "this world" while the "pietistic" approach tends toward an inner spirituality which cannot be burdened with external things. What ties both approaches together is the appreciation of the priority of the individual in relationship to the community around him or her. One approach may guard against the liturgy as an infringement on one's "freedom" while the other may guard against the liturgy as an infringement on one's "faith." Yet both approaches defend the individual over and against things external or greater and so potentially that which is more beneficial.

Undoubtedly, either of these approaches may not be, in essence, opposed to the idea of man having a relationship with God. But, having discussed in brief a rationale for the liturgy and then general opposition to the liturgy more is revealed to us about the liturgy itself. The liturgy is seen to have negative effects on the culture in which we live. Or the liturgy is seen as "counter-cultural." If opposition to the liturgy is described in individualistic terms then the liturgy might be seen as being opposed to the individual ("I" or "me") as just discussed. Another way the liturgy may be understood as "counter-cultural" is it places priority on man's relationship with God. The liturgy deals with matters spiritual thus placing more emphasis on God who is external to man and greater than him or her. Finally, the liturgy involves the community (ie, "people of God", "children of God", "family of God", "Church") and that community's communion with God which takes place in the liturgy.

Obviously, the liturgy does not operate using the same rules that we use to order our lives together (ie, school, business, athletics, arts and entertainment, government). The distinction of the liturgy from our everyday lives may be described in many ways. In fact, one might argue that the liturgy has a negative effect on the culture in which we live. Ultimately, if the liturgy is seen as being against "me" then it could also be seen, by extension, to be against "my" culture. In a spiritual sense this is true. The liturgy does have negative effects on me and my culture. The liturgy reminds me of my sin in relationship to God and others. It reminds me that God is above me and greater than me and my sin. It takes me outside of my individualism and away from my culture to focus on God who is external and greater than me and my culture and beyond the heights of all cultures. Finally, Christian liturgy is "counter-cultural" in that through it we receive the forgiveness of sins, grace and blessing that does not begin with us or our neighbor but which purports to come from God Himself who reveals Himself to us and gives Himself to us in the Spirit through the man Jesus Christ. If then, the liturgy does have negative effects on the culture in which we live it is therefore for a greater good. This goodness is given to us in the liturgy and takes away that sin which not only tangibly does more harm to our culture but which also keeps us from having and being maintained and even strengthened in an eternal relationship with God.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

for a "culture of life"

Here is a recent address regarding "the great human rights struggle of our time."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New direction

Anglicans to Catholics: Ready or Not, Here we Come
Church of England General Synod to touch off an exodus by approving women bishops

By Hilary White

YORK, England, July 7, 2008 ( - "There can be no future for Christianity in Europe without Rome," an Anglican bishop told the Sunday Telegraph this weekend, after it was revealed that a group of "senior" bishops from the Church of England has been in secret negotiations with the highest levels of the Vatican to discuss the current crisis in Anglicanism over the acceptance of homosexuality and female bishops. Bishops from both the Church of England's "evangelical" or protestant and "high" or "Catholic" wings are said to have been involved in the talks that some believe may presage a mass return of Anglicans to the Catholic fold.

Meanwhile, the news has just been released that the General Synod of the Church of England voted tonight to accept the consecration of women as bishops, a move that is likely to result in the exodus of a large number of clergy and a permanent split in the Church that is the officially established religion under British law. The ongoing dissolution of the Church of England, of which Queen Elizabeth is the head, may result in significant constitutional and legal changes to the make-up of Britain. Some fear that it may result in Britain becoming officially a secular nation.

The news comes just days before the start of the Lambeth Conference, the once-in-ten-years gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world set for July 16 to August 4. This year's conference is being boycotted by many bishops over support by the liberalised western Anglican leadership for acceptance of homosexuality. Thus far, five out of the total of 38 Anglican primates and a large number of territorial bishops have said they will not attend. An alternate conference of traditionally Christian Anglican bishops and laity met in June in Jerusalem to discuss ways forward.

Some at the General Synod had suggested the creation of "super bishops" in an extra-geographical diocese who would have jurisdiction over those members of the Church who refuse to accept female bishops. It is not known now whether this arrangement will be honoured. Anglican officials are expected to draw up legislation to bring in women bishops by 2014 at the earliest, Ruth Gledhill reports in the Times.

In anticipation of the move to consecrate female bishops, more than 1,300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, have written to the archbishops of Canterbury and York saying they will leave the Church of England if women are consecrated bishops.
While women have been raised to the Anglican episcopate in the US, the Church of England has only ordained female diocesan clergy. Three sitting diocesan bishops have also written to the Archbishop of Canterbury supporting the threat and two other bishops have said they are preparing to leave the Church.

Gledhill quotes the Rev. Prebendary David Houlding, a leading Anglo-Catholic, who said, "It's getting worse - it's going downhill very badly."

"It's quite clear there is a pincer movement and we are being squeezed out. We are being pushed by a particular liberal agenda and we are going to have women bishops at the exclusion of any other view."

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, while favouring some accommodation towards the traditionalists, said, "I am deeply unhappy with schemes or solutions which involve the structural humiliation of women, who are elected to the episcopate and end up haggling about the limits to their authority."

The news that a group of "senior" Anglican bishops are in talks with Rome during the crisis came as a surprise to representatives of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, attending the Synod as observers. Gledhill reported that Monsignor Andrew Faley, ecumenical officer of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, had "no information" that such talks had taken place. The Telegraph reports that the Rowan Williams was also not told of the talks that are reported to have been with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's highest doctrinal authority after the Pope himself.

The talks come with a backdrop of a difficult history. In 1992, when the Church of England voted to ordain female clergy, a similar crisis ensued in which a large number of Anglican ministers applied to Rome to create a provision to retain the traditional Anglican style of worship but seek communion with the See of Rome. At that time, under Pope John Paul II, some "Anglican Use" parishes were established in the US, but the episcopate of the Catholic Church of England and Wales obstructed the solution. Hopes were dashed when the Catholic bishops of England and Wales announced that converts would only be accepted individually, not en masse, and there would be no provision made for the retention of 500 year-old Anglican liturgical traditions.

It was noted that the heavily liberalised Catholic leadership did not relish the thought of a massive influx of doctrinally and liturgically traditional and highly educated clergy into their midst.

But since the election of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made unprecedented moves to reconcile traditionalists in the Catholic Church, and who was strongly supportive of the Anglican traditionalists before his election, hope has been revived that a path may be cleared.

Damien Thompson, a 'blogger for the Telegraph and editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, wrote, "The Pope's closest advisers are not in a mood to allow the bishops the same freedom this time. They are already cross at the poor English response to the Motu Proprio liberating the Latin liturgy - and have conveyed their displeasure to the relevant bishops in no uncertain terms."

"The Anglican traditionalists know that they cannot trust a Catholic bishop not to shop them to Rowan Williams. So the liberal RC hierarchy has been - quite properly - kept in the dark."

Church unity threatened

Church vote opens door to female bishops

Synod rejects compromise deal and raises fears of split with traditionalists
Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
The Guardian, Tuesday July 8, 2008

Ruling General Synod throws out compromises that would have appeased opponents

The Church of England was thrown into turmoil last night over the issue of women bishops, as it rejected proposals that would have accommodated clergy strongly opposed to the historic change.

In an emotional, sometimes bitter debate lasting more than seven hours, the General Synod voted against introducing separate structures and "superbishops", to oversee parishes opposed to women bishops, because they were seen as amounting to institutionalised discrimination.

Instead, the 468 members narrowly agreed to the idea of introducing a national statutory code of practice, throwing out all compromises that would have appeased opponents of women bishops.

A code of practice has yet to be fully explored, but will not satisfy the demands of traditionalists and conservative evangelicals, who had formed an alliance to block consideration of any such code.

The Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, condemned the final vote, taken after amendments had been tabled and rejected, as "mean-spirited and short-sighted". "The manifest majority was profoundly short-sighted. At every point it could have offered reassurances, and it did not do that," he said.

In the debate, one churchman, Gerald O'Brien, told the synod there were possibilities of receiving episcopal oversight from overseas archbishops. His comments drew boos and hisses from the assembly.

Scott-Joynt criticised such threats. "We've got people talking about defection - they were clearly talking about the Global Anglican Future conference [held last month in Jerusalem, which ended with the threat of an Anglican breakaway]. We've got a lot of soul-searching to do."

He echoed the sentiments of the Bishop of Dover, the Right Rev Stephen Venner, who was in tears after he made a speech, imploring the pro-women lobby to show some generosity.

"I feel ashamed. We have talked about wanting to give an honourable place for those who disagree, and we have turned down almost every realistic opportunity. We have not even been prepared to explore the possibility of fresh expressions of dioceses or bishops. And still we talk the talk of being inclusive."

Venner was referring to the superbishops plan, which failed to win a two-thirds majority across the three houses (bishops, clergy and laity) even though more backed it than opposed it. Synod's decision infuriated the influential Anglo-Catholic wing, which wants protection from women bishops. One senior churchman, the Rev Prebendary David Houlding, said: "It's getting worse, it's going downhill very badly. It's quite clear there's a pincer movement and we're being squeezed out. There is only one way forward: a code of practice." He added: "There will be no walkout - yet."

The archbishops of Canterbury and York appeared pensive during the debate, holding their heads in their hands. There were frequent pauses for silent prayer and reflection. The synod ignored their pleas. Rowan Williams and John Sentamu wanted legislative protection rather than a voluntary code of practice. Sentamu supported plans for superbishops, while Williams wanted "more rather than less robust" legislation.

The Bishop of Durham said such a vital and sensitive debate should not have taken place a week before Lambeth, the once-a-decade gathering of the world's Anglican bishops. He called for unity amid the mood of unhappiness and disunity.

The Right Rev Tom Wright said: "There might be some things that we might eventually have to split over. This should not be one of them."

The prospect of rebellion has loomed large over the meeting in York, which ends today. Yesterday's vote means the church moves toward ordaining women bishops with a code of practice, to be drawn up for consideration by the synod in February. The code will need a two-thirds majority in each of the houses when it reaches the final vote in several years' time. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pope and Patriarch issue messages on St. Paul

Pope and Patriarch issue messages on St. Paul

Pope Benedict and [Eastern Orthodox] Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople spoke on universality of faith and the example of Paul, who combined the Latin, Greek, and Jewish cultures.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


(Spero News) Pope Benedict XVI went on Saturday 28 June at 6pm to the Roman Basilica of St Paul's outside the Walls to preside First Vespers of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on the occasion of the opening of a special Year of Saint Paul with the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I as well as representatives of other Christian Churches and communities.

Before entering the Basilica, the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch and a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, lit a lamp in the Hall of the Basilica which will burn throughout the Year of Saint Paul. The procession entered the Basilica through the Door of St Paul and after veneration at the tomb of the Apostle, Vespers began.

In his homily Pope Benedict said "For us Paul is not a figure of the past whom we recall with veneration. For us He is a teacher, an apostle and a herald of Jesus Christ. We have come here together not to reflect on past history, never to return. Paul wishes to speak with us - today. This is why I have called a special Year of St Paul: to listen to him and learn from him as our teacher, the faith and the truth, in which are rooted the reasons for unity of all disciples of
Christ ".

After greeting the numerous delegates and representatives of other Christian Churches and communities the Pope asked: "Who is Paul? What does he say to me?".

The reply is found in three New Testament texts illustrated by the Holy Father. In the Letter to the Galations "he gave us a most personal profession of faith... his faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a personal way; it is knowledge of the fact that Christ faced death not for something anonymous but for love of him - of Paul - and that, as the Risen Lord, He still loves him, Christ gave himself for him. His faith is being struck by the love of Jesus Christ, a love which overwhelms and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion on God and the world. His faith is the impact of God's love on his heart. So this faith is in fact love for Jesus Christ".

In the Letter to the Thessalonians we read "for Paul the truth was too great to be sacrificed for any external success. The truth he had experience in his encounter with the Risen Christ was for him worth strife, persecution, suffering. He was deeply motivated by the fact that he felt loved by Jesus Christ and felt a desire to share this love with others. Paul was a man struck by a great love, and his work and suffering are explained by this nucleus".

The Holy Father then illustrated one key word: freedom. "Paul was free as a man loved by God and who, through God, was able to love with Him…anyone who loves Christ as Paul loved Him, can do anything, because his love is united with the will of Christ and so with the will of God; because his will is anchored in the truth and his will is not only his will, arbitrary of the autonomous I, instead it is integrated in the freedom of God and from this receives the way it is to walk".

Citing Jesus' words to Paul on the road to Damascus - "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" - the Pope explained "by persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Jesus Himself... Christ did not retire to heaven leaving a host of followers on earth to 'run his cause'.

The Church is not an association which promotes a cause. In the Church it is not a matter of a cause. It is a question of the person of Jesus Christ, who even as the Risen Lord was still 'flesh'... he has a body. He is personally present in his Church... In all this we glimpse the Eucharistic Mystery, in which Christ continues to give his Body and make us into his Body... Continually Christ draws us into his Body, he builds up his Body starting from the Eucharistic
centre, which for Paul is the heart of Christian life, through which all of us and as every individual can experience, in a personal way: He loved me and gave himself for me".

The Pope concluded him homily with these words: "We thank the Lord because he called Paul making him light of the nations and teacher for us all and we pray: give us today witnesses of the resurrection, filled with your love and able to carry the light of the Gospel in our times. Saint, pray for us! Amen."

Before the final Blessing the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I addressed those present and he said "radical conversion and the apostolic kerygma of Saul of Tarsus 'shook' history in the literal sense of the word and outlined the actual identity of Christianity...

This holy place outside the Walls is most appropriate for commemorating and celebrating a man who combined the Greek language and the Roman mentality of his day, stripping Christianity, once and for all, of any mental restriction and forging for ever the Catholic foundation of the ecumenical Church. Let us hope that the life and the Letters of St Paul may continue to be for us a source of inspiration that all peoples may obey faith in Christ."

News from Canterbury

From The Sunday Times June 29, 2008

Anglicans form 'new church' in gay clergy row

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Articles of faith: keep up with the debate on Ruth Gledhill's blog

The Anglican Church faces what is in effect a schism this weekend after the declaration last night of conservative evangelicals to create a "church within a church". The new body, called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, will have its own bishops, clergy and theological colleges.

Details of the fellowship were announced in Jerusalem last night at a summit of conservative Anglicans, the Global Anglican Future Conference.

It follows a protracted battle within the church over gay clergy. Many evangelicals were outraged when it was revealed this month that the civil partnership of two gay priests had been blessed in a London church with a traditional wedding liturgy.

The 300 bishops and archbishops in Jerusalem insist they do not want to split from the 80m-strong Anglican communion. This is partly a recognition that a formal schism would involve protracted legal disputes about ownership of churches and other properties.

However, they last night declared their plans for a new "primates council" made up of the senior bishops and archbishops at the Jerusalem meeting. The new fellowship also represents a direct challenge to the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a statement last night they challenged the role of the archbishop as primus inter pares of the bishops of the Anglican communion. "While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury," it said.

The new fellowship will return to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 39 articles of religion, train its own priests and insist on more orthodox practices in its churches. Although the instigators claim they are focused on reform from within it is said to represent the worst blow to church unity in the West since the Protestant reformation of the 16th century.

Central to the announcement was a "Jerusalem declaration", which will form the basis of the new fellowship. In the declaration the archbishops and bishops said: "We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed." It accused the leaders of the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada of proclaiming a "false gospel". The fellowship's first task will be to create a new Anglican body in North America.

Jerusalem was chosen as the location to announce the fellowship because of its precedence over Canterbury in the Christian hierarchy. A fellowship will be seen as a partial victory for Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, who was not at last night's meeting but who argued for reform from within. Unity, he said, was "a very precious thing".

St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles - Homily

". . . If the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church then it is only that the martyrs confessed what was revealed to them, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven. That is they confessed Jesus Christ and as they were heard so was He. But as He was rejected so would they be. But this is how the kingdom of heaven advanced, how the sick were healed and how the demons lost their power.

". . . Jesus foresaw the fear and suffering and persecution that His disciples would face with His death on the cross. He saw the attacks His Church would undergo in the world. Therefore, He unites us in and feeds us at the altar that we may be strengthened in the one true faith with the hope of eternal life. If the seed of the Church is the blood of the martyrs then it is through the blood of Christ Himself that the Church has her very life. "By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle [Paul] declares, 'In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins.' Colossians 1:14" (Iren., Ad. Haer., V, 2, 2) This Church bears until the Last Day the promise Jesus gave Peter; the gates of hell will not prevail against her. The serpent's head is crushed and the demons are cast out in Jesus' name. In Christ there is peace on earth and good will toward men. 'And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.' (Introit)

"With Jesus' promise concerning the Church and her life under God's guidance, protection and blessing we see also how He looks ahead, choosing men to carry on His work in the apostolic ministry . . .

"If Jesus is the divine and human Rock on which the Church is built, Peter and his confession are the human means through which the Lord builds His Church . . . [the Lord] continues to reign graciously among us and prepare us for the Last Day when He will come to judge the living and the dead. In the meantime the Church continues to make the same loving confession as Peter as we confess the Nicene Creed. In the meantime we live in the Lord's promise, made certain by His cross, that though the Church suffers on earth, though she is attacked and rejected, even hell cannot prevail against her. For even as Christ reigns in heaven above so He reigns among us, ever 'precious food supplying' (LSB 630), guiding, protecting and blessing us and enriching and enlivening His Church on earth with the forgiveness of sins, all along preparing us for eternal life in His kingdom. Amen."