Beza the Mormon

If you are familiar with the Book of Mormon, you probably know its radical doctrine of the Fall:

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

II Nephi 2.25

So listen to Peter White talking about Beza:

Beza could even claim that ‘it was good that sin and death should enter into the world’ on the grounds that it was a necessary step before the benefits of the work of Christ. In that sense Adam’s Fall was ‘the best and the most profitable thing that could be done for us.’ [Beza, Quaestiones, I. 103-7]

Pretty wild stuff!

ACNA’s Theological Lens

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) issued The Apostle, which looks to be their annual report; you can download it at this link. Inside the report, in a section titled “Prayerbook & Common Liturgy,” Bishop Bill Thompson discusses the work of the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force on revising the liturgy. He mentions something called “the Theological Lens”:

…we authored what we have called our “Theological Lens.” This document has become our guide for all of the liturgies that we will author. It has been approved by our College of Bishops and the Provincial Council of the church.

Somewhat disconcertingly, this important document cannot seem to be located anywhere publicly. We can only guess at its contents when Bishop Thompson says:

As we have noted in the “Theological Lens,” we want to have the liturgies of the church be rooted in the tradition of our Anglican heritage while also being accessible to both long-time Anglicans and those new to the tradition. The liturgies that we produce will not be innovative but clearly founded in the historic Anglican Prayer Book tradition.

Something this important should really be available for everyone to see. I can’t think of any reason to keep it hidden. It doesn’t engender faith in the process if these things aren’t available. There is nothing inherently wrong with another Prayer Book revision, but given the theological proclivities of some in ACNA, such a revision could be prove to be divisive.

Further gleanings from the Lens can be found from a review of the Theological Lens written by the Reverend Gavin Dunbar of the Prayer Book Society, located here. However, Dunbar was reviewing an earlier draft of the “Lens,” so the final version may be very different. What follows are the apparent excerpts from the first version of the document as provided by Rev. Dunbar:

The Initial Report of the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force

An expanded explanation of our guiding principles [for prayer book revision] (pp 2-5),

Section I – III Anglican Worship

(pp 6-8)

Finally, it treats of the late modern developments which have undermined the “hegemony” of the Prayer Book: evangelical, catholic, charismatic, and “missional” agendas (about which little is said); modernization of liturgical language; the drives for inculturation and ecumenical convergence.

An “exegesis” of the six principles

the “expanded explanation” of these six “guiding principles” is found on pp.9- 10 where it is called

Sections I-III deal with the nature and purpose of worship

Section V The Holy Spirit and the Church

Section VI Scripture

Scripture is “God’s Word written, the authoritative witness to God’s saving words and deeds in the history of Israel”

Section VI.2

The Old Testament is “the record of the revelation of God’s interaction with the world and humankind, especially the people of Israel”…the New Testament is “an historical record of God’s presence among us in Jesus the Christ, and those who followed Jesus.”

“God’s directives for humankind,”

“how to behave toward God, our neighbors, and community.”

Section VII The Catholic Faith

The Bible “both convicts of our sin and provides guidance in fulfilling God’s will”.

Guiding Principles for Anglican Worship

The Report discerns six principles for Anglican liturgy in Anglican history: four of them identified by Cranmer’s “inspired genius under Divine Providence”; the fifth by modern liturgists (not similarly distinguished); and a sixth arising out of the experience of liturgical revision. These are:

The Liturgy should be:

  1. Grounded in Scripture

Holy Scripture must be the foundation of all Christian worship

A.3 …words and concepts, metaphors and images, used in common worship should be as close to direct quotations of the Holy Scriptures as is grammatically possible

  1. Respectful of the Tradition of the Undivided Church where this is not contradictory to Scripture

Tradition is to be carefully respected, especially the worship practices of the Undivided Church, as long as they do not contradict Scripture…the 16th-century Reformers attempted to return to the practices of the Early Church in their liturgical revision, but were hindered by a lack of primary resources…scholars today have much more direct access to the primary sources of the liturgies of the Undivided Church, and are not hindered (as much) by the polemics of the 16th century; therefore they can provide us with more authentic resources from which to draw for our contemporary liturgies.

  1. Edifying to the people – by using language and ceremonies “understood of the people”

Edification means that language must be understood by the congregation, and that the ceremonies should be correspondingly relevant to them…archaic language can become idolatrous if it gets in the way of common comprehension, or when it is valued more for its beauty than its content.

Language is constantly changing, only “dead” languages like Latin or Archaic [sic] Greek do not change because they are no longer spoken; therefore for a language to remain understandable it has to constantly “morph”, i.e. thee/thou used to be an intimate form of address, now it is only used in a formal manner towards a “distant” God.

  1. Permissive of cultural variation not contradictory to Scripture or Creeds

Ceremonies do not have to be identical across nationalities and cultures, but they must also not contradict Scripture or the Creeds…an important question for liturgists today is whether 16th-century English Court rituals are still appropriate for the informal and egalitarian society admired in the West.

D. 3 -whether the Church year should be revised to reflect the southern as well as northern universal calendar for all circumstances?

  1. Ecumenical rather than distinctively Anglican

Words and liturgical forms should correspond to what the catholic faith has always taught and practiced (i.e. Vincentian canon) and emphasize our closeness to other Christian Communions rather than our uniqueness (ecumenical convergence vs. ecclesial divergence.

  1. Evolutionary in development [rather than revolutionary (as in recent liturgical revision)]

Words and liturgical forms should show a continuity with the Church’s historic tradition; change and development should take place in a way that creativity and innovation do not undermine either the orthodoxy of the liturgy or confuse the piety of the people.

…the BCP and KJV “still resonate in modern British and American speech

Recommendations for the Immediate Future

Both [1928 and 1962] can become obstacles to modern comprehension because of their 16th century language and limited acknowledgment of new approaches to sacramental life. Since those who prefer Cranmerian language are already using either the BCP 1928 or the Anglican Service Book, there is no reason to publish yet another traditional language book.

…a Prayer Book for the ACNA “should be in modern language, with few variables, and closely relate to the classical BCP texts”…the 1979 BCP was a “self consciously revolutionary composition…with some redeeming characteristics.”

I’ve turned this into a PDF here.

Robin Jordan ably brought attention to the hidden nature of the document in his comments on Virtue Online here.

The Donme

Zinovy Zinik writes of traveling to Turkey to:

retrace the steps of the self-proclaimed Messiah Shabbatai Zvi, A Turkish Jew from Izmir, who, having created in 1666 an atmosphere of apocalyptic hysteria across the entire Jewish world, suddenly, after a prolonged audience with the Sultan, converted to Islam. Shocked and amazed by his conversion, thousands of adherents saw in it some mysterious and arcane act of self-sacrifice, and followed his example. Thus was created a fascinating sect of Jewish Muslims whose descendants may still be found in modern Turkey. […]

They are still known in Turkey under the pejorative name Donme, which means both converts and turncoats. The Jews accused them of apostasy, while some nationalist Turks suspected them of being Jews in disguise, those who hide the yarmulke under the fez. No wonder they eventually embraced the European Enlightenment and created a network of the best secular schools in Turkey.

The Apostles Mission Network

This week brought a lot of confusion to AMiA parishes and clergy. What are they now that their bishops abandoned them? Well, those issues are beginning to resolve themselves. Look at this link from the Apostles Mission Network. It says in part:

Who is the Apostles Mission Network (AMN)?
AMN is a large but tightly knit network of clergy and churches, a network within the former  Anglican Mission in America, and thus sent by the Anglican Church of Rwanda on Christian mission to North America.
Who leads AMN?
The immediate episcopal overseer of AMN is Bishop Thad Barnum, who has chosen to remain  under the authority and oversight of the Rwandan House of Bishops. Our leadership also  includes approximately a dozen presbyters appointed by our former bishop, Terrell Glenn, who  serve in the administration of the network by shepherding regional groups of churches and  other shepherding functions for the whole network.
What are we seeking to do?
Our mission and vision is to plant orthodox Anglican churches in North America and to proclaim the good news of Jesus. In this endeavor, we are committed to working alongside any and all other faithful Christians, including our brothers and sisters in ACNA, as well as missional churches and movements outside of Anglicanism. Ultimately, we are committed to following Jesus, and walking together with Him in charity, unity, humility, honesty, truth, collegiality, counsel and love. However, we seek to do so as faithful Anglicans, committed to essential principles of theology and ecclesiology that are essential to historic orthodox Anglican mission and ministry.

Read the whole thing. As someone who believes that our historic formularies are every bit as applicable today as they were when they were written, this is good news.

Money Can’t Buy Me Love

Thy silver is become dross – Isaiah 1:22

Yesterday, the Archbishop Murphy Indaba Association (formerly known as the AMiA) released financial records. I confess, I have not had time to dig into them yet, but I intend to when I am not reading old Kevin Donlon statements on Johanine Awakenings.

Someone calling himself “Theophorus” has been commenting here, on TitusOneNine, and Stand Firm, and painting a different picture from the air brushed portrait of the finances coming from the PI (Pawley’s Island for my non AMiA friends). Theophorus knows, or claims to know, a wealth of details. He is either a big fraud, or someone who really knows stuff. So, for your reading pleasure, I am consolidating his version of events in one place. Here it goes. Continue reading “Money Can’t Buy Me Love”

Iron Like a Lion in Zion

 

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. – Isaiah 30: 20-21

 

Welcome Back

Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.
Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they’re turned around.
Who’d have thought they’d lead ya (Who’d have thought they’d lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)

The Press is the Enemy

Good old Richard Nixon hated the press.

“Never forget,” he tells national security advisers Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig in a conversation on December 14 1972, “the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy, the professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times.” Nixon to Al Haig.

[…]

“I really need a son of a bitch,” Nixon said, “who will work his butt off and do it dishonorably.” Because it wasn’t as though this would be a fair fight. “Do you think, for Christ sakes, [that] the New York Times is worried about all the legal niceties? … We’re up against an enemy, a conspiracy. They’re using any means. We are going to use any means.

[…]

Haig: Yes sir, very significant, this, uh, Goddamn New York Times exposé of the most highly classified documents of the war.

Nixon: Oh that, I see-

Haig: [Unclear]

Nixon: I didn’t read the story but, uh, you mean that, that was leaked out of the Pentagon?

Haig: Sir, it, uh, the whole study that was done for McNamara, and then carried on after McNamara left by Clifford, and the peaceniks over there. This is a devastating, uh, security breach, of, of the greatest magnitude of anything I’ve ever seen.  Continue reading “The Press is the Enemy”

Critique from Within

N.T. Wright highlights how Paul and Jesus critiqued Judaism from within. He says:

Paul’s polemical engagement with paganism, however, was not exactly like a non-Christian Jewish engagement might have been. It involved, as its reflex, a critique of Judaism. But it was not a critique from outside, from a pagan standpoint. It was a critique from within.

…The prophet does not criticize Israel from a non-Jewish standpoint; he claims to represent Israel’s true vocation and belief, calling her back to an allegiance to her God from which she had declined. Though he may be regarded as a disloyal Jew, the prophet always claims the high ground: he stands for true loyalty, which the present regime or ideology is abandoning (compare Elijah’s exchange with Ahab in 1 Kings 18:17-18). The prophet’s task is to speak from the heart of the tradition, to criticize and warn those who, claiming to represent the tradition, are in fact abandoning it.

And again of Jesus:

One of the noblest and most deep-rooted traditions in Judaism is that of critique from within. The Pharisees were deeply critical of most of their Jewish contemporaries. The Essenes regarded all Jews except themselves as heading for judgment; they had transferred to themselves all the promises of vindication and salvation, while they heaped anathemas on everyone else, not least the Pharisees. That did not make the Pharisees, or the Essenes, anti-Jewish.

Healthy organizations of any kind can tolerate dissent and internal self-critique. They don’t have to shut down conversation and hunt down anyone who has dared to speak against their policies. They can conduct conversations in the light and they don’t have to obfuscate. Scientology would be an example of the opposite pattern. Hide, litigate, and shut people up. Paul was chased from city to city and beat up to shut him up.

Unhealthy organizations obfuscate, plead and discipline for the crime of speaking up. In most Christian situations, like the current Sovereign Grace debacle, you’ll see “O tempora, O mores?” type of criticisms leveled at the troublemakers. Pietism and moralism come into play with “why can’t we all just get along”, “what will unbelievers think” and “can’t we just get back to spreading the Gospel” questions thrown around to end debate. This semi-gnostic approach to reality assumes that it is not nice and pious to delve into the messy realities of politics and personalities. You have to stay above the fray in the airy realm of the spiritual. Shut down that conversation. These folks must cringe when they read the rhetoric used by the Reformers and Church Fathers. Listen to Tertullian:

You are fond of spectacles, expect the greatest of all spectacles, the last and eternal judgment of the universe. How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs, and fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness, so many magistrates, who persecuted the name of the Lord, liquifying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sage philosophers blushing in red-hot flames with their deluded scholars;”

Wow, did he miss the Sunday School lesson on being nice? This is not to say that our conversations shouldn’t be irenic when possible, but sarcasm has a very Scriptural place (cf. Doug Wilson, The Serrated Edge). “Foolish Galatians…castrate yourselves,” “You are of your Father the Devil.” And so forth. But we are living in a nauseating age where the worst can get away with just about anything if they just say “bless your heart” as they knife you in the back.

Sources

The Challenge of Jesus, N.T. Wright

What Saint Paul Really Said, N.T. Wright