Friday, September 28, 2007

For your consideration

The Eucharist

of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer

in contemporary language

Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church.

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who by your holy Apostle has taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men; We humbly implore you most mercifully to accept our [alms and] oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto your Divine Majesty; imploring you to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all those who do confess your holy Name may agree in the truth of your holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.We implore you also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of your true religion, and virtue.Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and other Ministers, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth your true and living Word, and rightly and duly administer your holy Sacraments.And to all your People give your heavenly grace; and especially to this congregation here present; that, with humble heart and proper reverence, they may hear, and receive your holy Word; truly serving you in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.And we most humbly implore you of your goodness, O Lord, to comfort and support all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.And we also bless your holy Name for all your servants departed this life in your faith and fear; imploring you to grant them continual growth in your love and service, and to give us grace to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of your heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

¶ Then shall the Presbyter say to those who come to receive the Holy Communion,

You who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from this time foreword in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.

¶ Then shall this General Confession be made, by the Presbyter and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our many sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against your Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly your wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may from this day forward Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of your Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Then shall the Presbyter (the Bishop if he be present) stand up, and turning to the People, say,

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy has promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Presbyter say,

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Jesus Christ says to those who truly turn to him:

COME to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. St Matthew 11:28
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. St. John 3:16

Hear also the words of Saint Paul:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 St. Timothy 1:15

And hear what Saint John says:
If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John 2:1, 2

¶ The Presbyter continues, saying,

[The Lord be with you.]
[Answer. And with your spirit.]
Presbyter. Lift up your hearts.
Answer. We lift them to the Lord.
Presbyter. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Answer. It is right to give him thanks and praise.

¶ The Presbyter turns to the Lord's Table and says,

IT is indeed right, it is our duty, at all times and in all places to give thanks and praise to you, Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

¶ The PROPER PREFACE, if one is appointed, shall be said here, otherwise the Presbyter continues saying,

THEREFORE with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim and magnify your glorious name, forever praising you, and saying,

¶ Presbyter and people.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Glory be to you, O Lord most high.


On CHRISTMAS DAY, and the seven days following
BECAUSE you gave Jesus Christ, your only Son, to be born as at this time for us, who by the operation of the Holy Spirit, was made man of the substance of the Virgin Mary, his mother, but without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

On the EPIPHANY, and the seven days following
THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord, who in substance of our mortal flesh, revealed his glory, that he might bring us out of darkness into his own marvellous light.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

BECAUSE in the mystery of the Word made flesh you have caused a new light to shine in our hearts to give the knowledge of your glory in the face of your Son, Jesus
Christ our Lord.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

On EASTER DAY, and the seven days following
BUT chiefly we are bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the very Passover Lamb who was offered for us and has taken away the sin of the world. By his death he has destroyed death; and by his rising to life again he has restored everlasting life to us.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

On ASCENSION DAY, and the seven days following
THROUGH your most dearly loved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who after his glorious resurrection plainly appeared to all his Apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven to prepare a place for us, so that where he is, there we might also ascend and reign with him in glory.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

On WHITSUNDAY, and the six days following
THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord, according to whose most true promise the Holy Spirit came down from heaven, with a sudden and great sound, as it had been a mighty wind, and in the likeness of fiery tongues, lighting upon the Apostles to teach them, and to lead them into all truth; giving them both the gift of tongues, and also boldness with fervent zeal, constantly to preach the Gospel to all nations, by which we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of you and of your Son Jesus Christ.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

On the feast of TRINITY only
WHO with your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, we confess to be one God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Substance. For what we believe of your glory, O Father, we believe of the Son also, and of the Holy Spirit, without any difference of inequality.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

¶ Or this.

FOR the precious death and merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and for sending to us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; who are one with you in your Eternal Godhead.
Therefore with Angels, etc.

On ALL SAINTS' DAY, and the seven days following
WHO, in the multitude of your saints, has surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses, that rejoicing in their fellowship we may run patiently the race that is set before us, and, together with them, may receive the crown of glory that fades not away.

THEREFORE with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify your glorious name, for ever praising you, and saying,

¶ Presbyter and people.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Glory be to you, O Lord most high.

¶ When the Presbyter, standing before the Holy Table, having so ordered the Bread and Wine, that he may with the more readiness and decency break the Bread before the People, and take the Cup into his hands, he shall say the Prayer of Consecration, as follows.

ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that you, of your tender mercy, gave your only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again: For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, after supper, he took the Cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink this, all of you all you; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as often as you shall drink it, in remembrance of me.

The Oblation
WHEREFORE, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of your dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we, your humble servants, do celebrate and make here before your Divine Majesty, with these your holy gifts, which we now offer unto you, the memorial your Son commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto you most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.

The Invocation
AND we most humbly implore you, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of your almighty goodness bless and sanctify, with your Word and Holy Spirit, these your gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.
AND we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly imploring you to grant that, by the merits and death of your Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all your whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present unto you, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto you; humbly imploring you, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ, be filled with your grace and heavenly blessing, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him. And although we are unworthy, through our many sins, to offer unto you any sacrifice; yet we implore you to accept this our honour-bound duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be unto you, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.

Presbyter. And now as our Saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray,

OUR Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

¶ Or this.
OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

¶ Then shall the Presbyter, kneeling down at the Lord's Table, say, in the name of all those who shall receive the Communion, this Prayer following.
WE do not presume to come to this your Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your many and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your Table. But you are the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
¶ A Hymn may be sung while the bread and wine are distributed.

¶ The Presbyter shall receive the Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to administer the Bread and Wine to the Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, in the same way, and after that to the people, placing it in their hands as they devoutly kneel. Sufficient time shall be given for all to communicate. The Presbyter shall distribute the Bread saying,

THE body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.

¶ And the Minister administering the Cup shall say,

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you and be thankful.

¶ If the consecrated Bread or Wine be spent before all have communicated, the Presbyter is to consecrate more, according to the Form before prescribed; beginning at, All glory be to thee, Almighty God, and ending with these words, partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.¶ When an have communicated, the Presbyter shall return to the Lord's Table, and reverently place upon it what remains of the consecrated Elements, covering the same with a fair linen cloth.¶ Then the following is said by the Presbyter, or by the Presbyter and the people together,

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we heartily thank you for feeding us, who have received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, and by that feeding, assuring us of your favour and goodness towards us, and that we are true members of the mystical body of your Son, the blessed company of all faithful people, and are also heirs, through hope, of your everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and passion of your dear Son. And we humbly implore you, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with your grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as you have prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ Then the GLORIA IN EXCELSIS or another appropriate Hymn shall be sung, all standing.

¶ And note that alternately the Gloria may be sung immediately after the Kyrie Eleison.

GLORY to God in the highest, and peace and goodwill to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you who are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

¶ Or this.

GLORY be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

¶ As the people kneel, the Presbyter, or Bishop if he is present, shall give this BLESSING.

THE peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.

¶ A Hymn may be sung.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A reflection on communion cups. . .

Being from the Methodist tradition, with relatives in the Lutheran tradition, I'm very familiar with the practice of using the small individual cups in the serving of the Communion elements. Also, when celebrating a Sunday Eucharist at a nursing home I was requested to use individual cups in delivering the elements; I complied (using my chalice and paten for the consecration and laying my hand on the tray with the individual cups per the rubrics where it states the the priest is to lay his hand on every vessel to be consecrated), while I know this is not the preferred method for most in the Anglican tradition. Indeed, one priest just out of seminary informed me that anyone who would allow this practice, the use of the small individual cups, is obviously un-Christian--his exact words were "anti-Christ."
I inquired as to why he thought this was so. His response was clear: such a practice destroys the symbolism of sharing the one Cup of the Blood of Christ, per the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Church at Corinth. Where is the unity in Christ symbolized if each person has their own tiny cup? Also, the rubrics mention that the priest is to take the cup (not cups) into his hands during the consecration. I agreed with him, this is true. But I also asked if he had seen celebrations of the Eucharist where more than one chalice was used. He said yes, he had. I asked what the essential difference was between using one chalice, two chalices, or let's say one small chalice for each person. All destroy the symbolism he seeks. He didn't have an answer. I agreed that the use of the small cups is not ideal, but in some circumstances where it is employed (such as where it is requested in a nursing home) it does not render the sacrament in any way invalid.
Also, it must be noted that the same manner of argument used for the individual cups is used by most who desire to use wafers as the bread in the Eucharist. While the priest mentioned above had an obvious dislike of the small cups for destroying the symbolism of the one Cup, he was blind to the fact that the use of individual pieces of bread destroys the symbolism of the one Bread in the exact same manner. The loaf is not broken with each person receiving a piece; each is separate, just as the small glasses of wine are separate. The logic of protesting against one can be employed just as quickly and validly against the other. Ideally, for each celebration of the Holy Eucharist there should be one Bread and one Cup: the great Anglo-Catholic theologian Bishop Gore argued similarly. Of course, convenience has long been an argument for the use of wafer bread; it is easy to distribute and store as the reserved sacrament. If convenience is the most pressing argument for wafer bread, I can't see how this argument cannot also be used in favor of individual cups. Some things are far from the ideal, such as the use of the little cups and the tiny pieces of bread (also, there is nothing more "Catholic" in using a round wafer and somehow more "Protestant" in using square pieces of bread), but neither invalidates the sacrament. They just take away from the outward symbolism. . .

Monday, September 10, 2007

An ordination to the priesthood. . .

A very nice slide show from Saint Thomas of Canterbury Church in Houston, Texas.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A little levity. . .

Have you heard of Methodist transubstantiation?

It's when they turn wine into grape juice.

(Having grown up in the Methodist tradition--I still have a bust of John Wesley in my study--I found this pretty darned funny).
A little clarification on "magic touch" theology

In the essay reproduced below Dean Crenshaw rejects "magic touch" theology. One reader ignores the main point of the essay, that modern protestantism has ". . .gone to the other extreme—we don’t want church at all, or we’ll make up our own version."

The thesis of the whole essay is summed up in the concluding paragraph: "With Rome, you can only have access to the Cross through the Church, which promotes their legalism. With modern day Protestantism, you can have the Cross apart from the Church, which is license. With Anglicanism you have the Cross in the context of the Church, which is balance." Remember that Rome has allowed herself to introduce new doctrines as "necessary to salvation." How has she claimed to the "right" to do this? Because the authority of someone touched by someone touched by someone else who was touched by Saint Peter is presumed to give them the right to create new doctrines unheard of in the first thousand years of the Church (please see the Old Catholic theses for details).

A similar statement is made by Archbishop Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church: "Mere maintenance of a mere outward or tactile line of succession does not by itself maintain catholicity: the faith and worship of the Church also must be maintained.” This sounds like a rejection of "magic touch" theology just as much as Dean Crenshaw's comments.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Genius of Anglicanism

by the Very Rev Dr Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.
Dean, Cranmer House
(from the official blog of Cranmer House:
Over the centuries the Church has struggled with primarily three heresies: Arianism (denying the deity of Christ), Gnosticism (separating the spiritual from the physical), and legalism (that one can earn his salvation). The irony is that the other side of the coin to legalism is license, that one can live like the devil and still go to heaven when he dies. I would like to consider legalism and license.
During the time of the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church was selling indulgences, people literally paying for their sins in advance so they could enjoy them later, which is the flip side to legalism, a license to sin. Thus legalism implies license. It works like this: if one can earn his salvation (legalism), that puts him in charge of grace, and makes God his debtor. If he is in charge, he can refuse His grace and still claim to be a Christian (license).

The Protestant Reformation brought the Church back to a reasonable position from the legalism and the license of Rome. Statement after statement by the Reformers made it clear that one could not earn his salvation (contrary to legalism), but that faith without works was dead (contrary to license).

For example, in 1538 Cranmer said: [We] are yet not justified on account of any worth or merit of penitence or other works or merits of [our] own, but freely by faith on account of Christ when we
believe. . . .

But then a few lines later he also added:For good works are necessary to salvation, not because they justify the ungodly, nor because they are a price paid for sin, or a cause of justification; but because it is necessary that one who is already justified by faith and reconciled to God through Christ, should strive to do God’s will. . . .

There is the balance. We are justified by faith in Christ apart from works, but the faith that justifies is living faith that necessarily produces works (James 2:14ff; 1 John 2:3-4). So what is the problem? The problem is that legalism and license are still with us. Rome still has its problems with legalism and license, but so now does Protestantism. The Protestant revival fire of the 1500s that brought the Church back in line now needs to be brought back in line itself. We are selling grace as seen in the emerging church movement, as seen in the entertainment models for salvation, in the smorgasbord approach to Church where the “consumer” will pick and choose what he likes—not what is biblical.

Here in Houston we have several mega-churches that advertise their entertainment services each week. One has a stage play each Sunday, sometimes with motorcycles jumping on stage, another time with cars smashing into one another. Another mega-church has a large globe behind the preacher that gradually turns with not a cross in sight. Thus the symbolism is that the cross has been replaced with the world. I’ve never heard the preacher preach on sin or the cross. The slogan is “Find the champion in you,” not in God. Other churches have contemporary worship where the consumer, not God, is the center. In each case, the emphasis is on us humans and what we like, not on God and what He requires.

So am I just being mean spirited? They have large churches and we don’t, so I have to find something wrong with them? That is not the problem. If they were preaching the Gospel, I would rejoice, but one perhaps occasionally preaches the Gospel and the other one has announced that it will preach on sin, but will affirm the people. So how does all this connect with legalism and license?Listen to the preaching from these mega-churches and what do you hear? It is not about God and His majesty and sovereignty. It is not about sin, the Ten Commandments, and judgment. It is not about Christ and His death on the Cross for our sins. It is five steps to financial success. It is six steps to have a good relationship with your wife. It is how to eat right and be healthy (not kidding). In other words, besides being man-centered, it is “You do this and you’ll be blessed,” which is legalism. It is putting “ought” as the way to “is,” making performance the way to grace. This is not the way of the Cross.Since it is a smorgasbord approach, the Christian is taught that it does not matter where he attends, what services are important, or whether he even joins a church or not, but that whatever he does, God smiles and all is well (license with a vengeance).

Moreover, we also have the mish-mash approach to theology, with more and more people playing down any real theology. Just believe what you want. This is especially true in the emerging church approach. Are churches today Trinitarian? Who knows. Are they Incarnational? It is difficult to tell. Even otherwise conservative scholars are falling prey to kenosis theology, which teaches that Jesus did not know who He was until later in His ministry, if even then. Thus we have a gradual incarnation, or no incarnation. Then we have the increasingly popular universalism movement, with some following Barth, which is the ultimate license view: if all are going to heaven, eat, drink, be merry, make light of God’s sexual morals, live like the devil, for tomorrow we die and we all go to heaven. (A society that forgets hell goes there.)

So where does Anglicanism come into all this? If by Anglicanism we mean the historic Anglicanism, the one committed to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the old Reformation Anglicanism, then it is just what is needed in today’s horrible Christian milieu. This Anglicanism has a balance between the Cross and the Church. By emphasizing the Cross, it maintains that our relationship with God is not by our merits, not by our righteousness, but by the righteousness of Christ. On the altars of just about all Anglican churches is a cross, the center of our worship, the way we approach God, the mediation between us and God, our only hope in life and in death, the ultimate symbol pointing to the unconditional love of God for His people. It is the constant reminder that we do not earn grace, that we are sinners without hope, which is why the Son of God had to come, and it is God’s way of telling us not only that sin is real but that it is so awful that it took the death of His Son to save us. If the Cross is the not the center of worship and in our lives, we will necessarily fall into legalism, seeking to please God our way. The return of the doctrine of the Cross, with its emphasis on substitutionary atonement, was one of the great benefits of the Reformation, and especially of Anglicanism. (For one of the best books I’ve ever read, get The Cross of Christ, by John Stott, an Anglican scholar and minister.)
But the second pillar of true Anglicanism is an equal emphasis on the doctrine of the Church. By that we don’t mean some so-called rapture, but the importance of being part of a visible, local church that teaches the Word and administers the Sacraments. With regular oversight and with regular attendance to receive the Word and Sacrament, the Church should guard us from license, thinking we can live just any way we please. No one is so righteous as to be without some human authority over him, and God has given that human authority in the Church.And Protestantism has lost its original fervor for the Church, and has now gone to the other extreme from Rome: We don’t need any church. We’ll just choose what we like, and do as we like. We think that any strong doctrine of authority in visible churches is Roman Catholic, which allegedly means that we can only go to God through human priests. That is not Anglicanism or Protestantism. Anglicanism (and Protestantism) eliminated the doctrine of the magic touch: if you’ve been touched by someone who has been touched by someone who has been touched by an Apostle, you have received grace. But now we’ve gone to the other extreme—we don’t want church at all, or we’ll make up our own version. Church is an add-on to our faith, but only if it’s convenient, if we don’t have a hunting or fishing trip planned, if the kids don’t have sports events to attend, or if company has not come in from out of town.

We forget that it was John Calvin himself, that great Protestant reformer in Geneva, who echoed St. Cyprian's assertion that we should not call God our Father if the Church is not our mother (Institutes, 4.1.4.). That is true Protestantism. It was Puritanism, in reaction to English Anglicanism, that did not want a strong doctrine of the Church. Thus they emphasized individualism when they settled this country. At first they were a wonderful and godly people, but in time their individualism has become part of the reason we have inherited such a smorgasbord approach to worship today and to egalitarianism in our culture.
Again, Anglicanism has a striking balance: in our Books of Common Prayer, we have strong Trinitarian theology, strong doctrine of the Incarnation of God the Son, and the Cross is at the center. Sin also is at the heart of our theology as we confess our sins to God looking to the Cross for forgiveness. This protects us from legalism.
But Anglicanism also has strong worship with a healthy emphasis on Word and Sacrament. It sees itself as under the great Head of the Church, that its ministers are specially called by Christ and given to His Church to protect it from heresy and to help people in the Christian life (Eph 4:11-16). Christ’s own authority is in His Church; thus we must do things His way. A pastor is also guardian over the souls of those in his care. This protects us from license.
Perhaps an example will help us to understand this. In some circles, the Cross is rightly held up as the great cure for our sins, the only cure. But then the people are taught things like “you aren’t saved because you are in the Church, but you’re in the Church because you are saved.” In this mindset, the Cross is only for individuals, not for the corporate Church. It is only the individual who decides what his state before God is, and the Church is made irrelevant. This tells the individual that he does not have to come to worship and does not have to keep the commandments of God as the necessary evidence of his salvation (contrary to 1 John 2:3-4). It also tells the individual that what one does in worship does not matter, for the Church is irrelevant to his salvation. In other words, salvation is put completely outside the context of the Church.
Here is another example. I know a very sweet Christian lady who has been baptized three times because two times she decided (not the Church) that she had not really meant it when she said she believed in Jesus. On the contrary, it is not we who decide to join Christ’s Church, but it is He who decides to join us through His ordained and appointed ministers. And once we have received the sign of entrance, we must never receive it again, for baptism does not belong to the individual but to Christ. The first time she was baptized Christ was serious, and thus she never needs it again. If she is in control of her Christian life, then an option is license, using the Church and sacraments according to her rules, not Christ’s rules, or no Church at all. We have the smorgasbord approach again.

The genius of Anglicanism is that the Cross and the Church complement one another. On the one hand, the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ where He died for our sins guards us from legalism, from thinking we can earn our way into God’s favor. On the other hand, the Church is Christ’s gracious institution to keep us in line, where the means of grace are administered to His people. The two go together, for the Church should lead us to God via the Cross, and the Cross should lead us back to the Church. We must not think of these as separate.
With Rome, you can only have access to the Cross through the Church, which promotes their legalism. With modern day Protestantism, you can have the Cross apart from the Church, which is license. With Anglicanism you have the Cross in the context of the Church, which is balance.


Monday, September 03, 2007

The Old Catholic Theses: A rather Anglican document, don't you think?

SEPTEMBER 14-16, 1874

I. We agree that the apocryphal or deutero-canonical books of the Old Testament are not of the same canonicity as the books contained in the Hebrew Canon.

II. We agree that no translation of Holy Scripture can claim an authority superior to that of the original text.

III. We agree that the reading of Holy Scripture in the vulgar tongue cannot be lawfully forbidden.

IV. We agree that, in general, it is more fitting, and in accordance with the spirit of the Church, that the Liturgy should be in the tongue understood by the people.

V. We agree that Faith working by Love, not Faith without Love, is the means and condition of Man's justification before God.

VI. Salvation cannot be merited by "merit of condignity," because there is no proportion between the infinite worth of salvation promised by God and the finite worth of man's works.

VII. We agree that the doctrine of "opera supererogationis" and of a "thesaurus meritorium sanctorum," i.e., that the overflowing merits of the Saints can be transferred to others, either by the rulers of the Church, or by the authors of the good works themselves, is untenable.

VIII. 1. We acknowledge that the number of sacraments was fixed at seven, first in the twelfth century, and then was received into the general teaching of the Church, not as a tradition coming down from the Apostles or from the earliest of times, but as the result of theological speculation.

2. Catholic theologians acknowledge, and we acknowledge with them, that Baptism and the Eucharist are "principalia, praecipus, eximia salutis nostrae sacramenta."

IX. 1. The Holy Scriptures being recognized as the primary rule of Faith, we agree that the genuine tradition, i.e. the unbroken transmission partly oral, partly in writing of the doctrine delivered by Christ and the Apostles is an authoritative source of teaching for all successive generations of Christians. This tradition is partly to be found in the consensus of the great ecclesiastical bodies standing in historical continuity with the primitive Church, partly to be gathered by scientific method from the written documents of all centuries.

2. We acknowledge that the Church of England; and the Churches derived through her, have maintained unbroken the Episcopal succession.

X. We reject the new Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as being contrary to the tradition of the first thirteen centuries, according to which Christ alone is conceived without sin.

XI. We agree that the practice of confession of sins before the congregation or a Priest, together with the exercise of the power of the keys, has come down to us from the primitive Church, and that, purged from abuses and free from constraint, it should be preserved in the Church.

XII. We agree that "indulgences" can only refer to penalties actually imposed by the Church herself.

XIII. We acknowledge that the practice of the commemoration of the faithful departed, i.e. the calling down of a richer outpouring of Christ's grace upon them, has come down to us from the primitive Church, and is to be preserved in the Church.

XIV. 1. The Eucharistic celebration in the Church is not a continuous repetition or renewal of the propitiatory sacrifice offered once forever by Christ upon the cross; but its sacrificial character consists in this, that it is the permanent memorial of it, and a representation and presentation on earth of that one oblation of Christ for the salvation of redeemed mankind, which according to the Epistle to the Hebrews (9:11,12), is continuously presented in heaven by Christ, who now appears in the presence of God for us (9:24).

2. While this is the character of the Eucharist in reference to the sacrifice of Christ, it is also a sacred feast, wherein the faithful, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord, have communion one with another (I Cor. 10:17).

Saturday, September 01, 2007