Conservative Biblicistic Protestants

James B. Jordan offers the term "conservative Biblicistic protestant" as definition for what he is (what happened to post-Reconstructionist)? He is right on the money in defining the fear of the Bible in "evangelical" circles:

Your standard evangelical scholar, while he affirms the inerrancy of the Bible based on his understanding of the Bible, is still sadly Biblo-phobic. He is terrified of the stipulations of the “laws of Moses” as he calls them. He finds the Psalter unpalatable: too mean, too rough. He rejects the chronology of the Bible, despite its universal acceptance throughout the history of Christendom. He is committed to a minimalist approach to the Bible: no significant numbers, nothing in the stellar heavens, no openness to revisionist history of the ancient world, as little typology as possible, etc. I’ve heard older men at Evangelical Theological Society meetings complain about “all these chiasms” as if they refused to look again at the text to see what might be there. (Though I can sympathize with an old guy’s reluctance to reopen everything!) It can be said that this kind of “evangelicalism” wants some amount of acceptability in the world of late 19th and early 20th century scholarship. They don’t seem to realize that the world has turned and that a far more penetrating understanding of writing now prevails.

Oh, and of course, virtually all American “evangelicals” are committed to the notion that Jesus does not intend to disciple all nations. (He was just joking, it seems.) In fact, Jesus might return at any moment. Not only so, but it is important for our personal sanctification that we believe this notion and act as if the world might end any time.

I think we should be able to agree that Christians who are ashamed of what the Bible says need to be corrected and do better.

From Chairman to Sage

Bishop Chuck Murphy (Congo) has offered some answers to the folks at All Saints, Pawleys Island concerning the future of the The Anglican Mission Society for Mission and Apostolic Works. Here are some highlights from what he said and an occasional comment from me:

…my hope and my prayer is that we continue to resist the urge to engage in the fray, gossip, slander, and party spirit.

You mean like this?

A Missionary Society is what we feel called to be for 50 or more years; my retirement would have me seated on the College of Consultors, to provide insight and allow me to move into the role of sage rather than remaining in the role of chairman. It may evolve into something different… taking a step and taking a step.

We cannot ignore the fact that November and December involved an onslaught of events that hit us, and me, particularly, like an unforeseen hurricane, and information couldn’t be distributed because everything was changing by the hour… all in conjunction with the online “blogospere” that you may know about.

This confirms the Anglican Autumn thesis – these structures have trouble in the marketplace of ideas when their PR doesn’t work.

Question: How permanent is the relationship with the Congo?

What we asked for from Archbishop Isingoma was for him a temporary vicariate. Why did we use the word “temporary”? Because we felt like in the next 180 days, we will have a permanent mission society established.

So, what I asked for is as a temporary move to get us to that point, “would you establish a temporary vicariate for us” which is a fancy word for let us function as we did under Archbishop Kolini until we can get the Missionary Society up and running.

What’s intended for the Missionary Society – we adopted its constitution last week – is that it becomes permanent. And Archbishop Isingoma has never indicated to me that this was a temporary arrangement. He has written to me saying this is a long-term partnership working together.

Question: Why the Congo?

I want to be under Godly leadership, not just who is the head of the zip code……I want to know are you Godly…has God raised you up for this. The only advantage to me going to the Congo was that it is an authentic province of the Anglican Communion and it was important for those clergy for whom that still matters.

“For whom that still matters,” indicates that for many clergy it doesn’t. In other words, being a Continuing Church is just fine. Also, since you failed to submit to the last Godly leadership you were under, why will it be any different this time, unless the understanding is that this ‘leadership’ will never discipline you?

Question: Is the Congo Anglican Church a member of GAFCON? If not, why not?

Yes, Congo is going through the process of becoming a member of GAFCON. However, the importance and definition of this varies from individual to individual and congregation to congregation. There is a range of opinion.

1. This is news. While it has been suspected, I don’t think anyone has seen confirmation that Congo was turning its back on Archbishop Rowan and embracing GAFCON.

2. How can “the definition” of becoming a member of GAFCON vary “from individual to individual”? What does that mean?

Question: What is the importance of AMIA being affiliated with an Anglican Province that is a member of the Anglican Communion (Canterbury)?

The AMiA finds no importance in being affiliated with just any Anglican Province, which is why we are not affiliated with the Anglican Province in America known now as The Episcopal Church. The AMiA does, however, find importance in being "Anglican" and that requires being "under authority".

I would add: being under authority that does not ask questions about your finances or threaten to discipline you. Essentially, the kind of authority that rubber-stamps what you want.

Churches Data Mining for Net Worth?

I have heard that some churches now employ data mining software on their websites to determine parishioners net worth and presumably attempt to get more money from them. Perhaps it works something like this:

Whether a patient comes in for a gall bladder operation or to have a baby, the routine remains the same for staff at Sharp HealthCare hospitals in San Diego. The front desk checks insurance records to make sure the bills get paid on time. Nurses take vitals and tag their charges with a bar-coded wristband that helps them avoid treatment snafus. And behind the scenes, the fund-raising staff runs scans on the assets of each patient. The goal? To find out whether they re megarich, wealthy or merely comfortable.

While the folks checking in don t know it, the nonprofit hospital chain is hunting for prospective donors. Armed with powerful data-mining software, they screen hundreds of admissions records each morning to find a handful of wealthy patients who ve shown prior interest in the hospital. Those who make the cut may enjoy a bedside visit from a patient relations director who offers concierge services. Extra pillow? Free parking passes for visiting friends? The director will make it happen. It s all about building a relationship at the point of service, says foundation CEO Bill Littlejohn, and it has proven to be effective: We ve gotten many letters and gifts from people who said, It was so nice you stopped by.

When your favorite nonprofit isn t busy saving the whales, chances are it s making a serious behind-the-scenes effort to know you better and using increasingly sophisticated technology to do so. Whether it s the local museum or an international relief group, a charity s prospect-research staff can survey your salary history, scan your LinkedIn connections or even use satellite images to eyeball the size of your swimming pool. And if it s really on the ball, it s keeping better tabs on your financial life than you are. Should your stock holdings double, your friendly fund-raiser can get an e-mail alert prompting her to make an impromptu call.

See the rest here.

Predictive analytics the science of identifying and cultivating new donors by analyzing characteristics of existing donors has become indispensable to many nonprofits. It helps them determine who will send a $100 check at Christmas and who might give $50 million for the new memorial wing. The patterns that emerge can be surprising. Lawrence Henze, managing director of Target Analytics, a Blackbaud firm, learned that liberal arts majors are more likely than business grads to remember their alma mater in their will. And when nonprofits add commercial data to the mix, even finer patterns emerge. Don Austin, analytics director at infoGroup Nonprofit, says folks who donate to food banks are more likely to live in an apartment, carry credit card debt and play the stock market.

Will churches treat these prospective targets better than the average parishioner? Hospitals do:

Aggressive fund-raising has become standard procedure at hospitals, clinics and even hospices, as medical institutions try to make up for higher costs and dwindling insurance reimbursements. No one tracks the statistics, but the practice of screening admission records to find rich patients is pretty common, says Kathy Renzetti, spokesperson for the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. And once the hospital determines you re a VIP, the perks roll in. At Penn, there are 1,200 donors and volunteers who get bumped to the front of the line for appointments with specialists and get special assistance with billing mix-ups. At San Diego s Sharp HealthCare, major donors receive a card printed with staffers pager numbers, to ensure they receive top service around the clock.

Here’s an example of this software: DonorScope. How on earth can this be squared with the Scripture?

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
(James 2:1-7 ESV)

PEAR Elects Breedlove as Bishop

PEARUSA will begin with three Networks and at least one new bishop (bishops Glenn and Barnum will no longer be actively serving as bishops). Rev. Steve Breedlove will become a Bishop for PEARUSA. An excerpt from the report by Don Schulze:

The first PEARUSA Celebration Assembly meeting in Raleigh, NC elected their first bishop and announced the formation of three network relationship groups that include the West/MidWest, the Southeast, and the North/Northeast. Provisional Network Leaders are Rev. Ken Ross for the West/Mid-West, Rev. David Bryan for the Southeast, and Rev. Steve Breedlove for the North/Northeast.

The Rev. Steve Breedlove was elected by unanimous acclamation to be their first bishop. He has been senior rector of All Saints, Chapel Hill, SC and will leave that position in five weeks. He will serve as the Presider Pro Tem of PEARUSA and as network leader of the North/Northeast regional network of PEARUSA till his inauguration in October.

The working group of the Northeast Network met to identify its members and found that there were approximately thirty-six churches represented, from North Carolina to Connecticut.
Among the issues discussed was the need to find a way to communicate or meet in the months between June and September to consider, propose, and elect one or more network bishops. As various considerations were voiced and a number of ideas were considered, it appeared that the idea of such a large and geographically diverse group working in a cohesive way after leaving Raleigh was going to be difficult and a Network bishop would be necessary.

Breedlove was considered the choice for Network Bishop in view of his past experience in team leadership and pastoral care and oversight. Following a brief discussion the decision to make him the first Bishop Candidate of the new PEARUSA was made by acclamation.

I hope we’ll be able to see video or read the text of the presentations from this Assembly.

PEARUSA Celebration Assembly

Reports are emerging from the PEARUSA Assembly in Raleigh. The Rev. Don Schulze writes:

In a brief ceremony Archbishop Rwaje, Bishop Laurent Mbanda, and Bishop Gasatura formally installed Rev. Steve Breedlove as the "Presider Pro-Tem" of the new Missionary District. A "Missionary Council Pro-Tem" will replace the "steering committee" that has served so well for the last five months. They were also "sworn in" by the Rwandan Bishops.
The Rev. Clark Lowenfield and Rev. Alan Hawkins who played critical roles in getting PEARUSA to this point will not be serving on the provisional missionary council. Lowenfield will take up duties as Vicar of the new Diocese of the Gulf West Coast for ACNA and will be an ACNA clergyman. The Rev. Alan Hawkins will remain as a PEARUSA clergy and rector of his church in Greensboro, NC but will take on additional responsibilities as Vicar of the Anglican 1000 church planting initiative.
It was formally announced that Bishop Terrell Glenn would remain a Bishop in Rwanda. He will not serve in an active role for some time as he takes a much-deserved sabbatical and seeks God’s direction for the future.
Bishop Thad Barnum will not serve on the Missionary Council Pro-Tem in an active role. He was appointed by Rwaje to serve as counselor, advisor, and pastor to Rev. Steve Breedlove as he leads that working group until October.
Another major PEARUSA gathering, an Inaugural Assembly, will be held in October at a place and date to be announced. At that time the Provisional Missionary Council will have done their work of finalizing structures, documents, offices, and regional responsibilities and relationships for the new organization. At that meeting the official episcopal structure of the new PEARUSA Missionary District will be announced. This will entail consecrating new bishops and formally establishing regional oversight.

Read the rest here.

Icons and Anglicanism

In light of the recent appearance of Metropolitan Jonah at the ACNA Assembly, it may be worth re-posting this paper, "Images in the Church of England." One of the primary ideas recovered during the Reformation was to reject idolatry, something that is often ignored today. The paper quotes John Donne, who wrote:

God, we see, was the first that made images, and he was the first that forbade them. He made them for imitation; He forbade in danger of adoration. For – qualis dementiae est id colere, quod melius est – what a drowsiness, what a laziness, what a cowardliness of the soul is it, to worship that which does but represent a better thing than itself. Worship belongs to the best. Know thou thy distance and thy period, how far to go and where to stop. Dishonor not God by an image in worshiping it, and yet benefit thyself in following it. There is no more danger out of a picture than out of a history, if thou intend no more in either than example.

Further, Archbishop Wake wrote:

Were the benefits of images never so great, yet you know this is neither that which we dispute with you, nor for which they are set up in your churches. Your Trent Synod expressly defines that due veneration is to be paid to them. Your catechism says that they are to be had not only for instruction but for worship. And this is the point in controversy betwixt us. We retain pictures, and sometimes even images too in our churches for ornament, and (if there be such uses to be made of them) for all the other benefits you have now been mentioning. Only we deny that any service is to be paid to them; or any solemn prayers to be made at their consecration, for any divine virtues, or indeed for any virtues at all, to proceed from them.

This is the historic position of the Anglican Communion: images are good, but they are not to be "venerated" or prayed to / through. In light of I John 5.21, the leadership of ACNA should reconsider rushing into dialog with the Orthodox. We can be co-belligerents on issues of morality in our nation, but we must not unite with them in areas where the Reformation reclaimed Scriptural truths.

Theology of the Psalms

My Bible reading plan for the year takes me through the Psalms four times. I am struck again and again in reading them by how our hollow, “All You Need is Love” theologies fail to deal with the full range of Scriptural data. For example:

58.10-11

The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;

he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.

Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;

surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Calvin said of this verse: “It might appear at first sight that the feeling here attributed to the righteous is far from being consistent with the mercy which ought to characterise them; but we must remember, as I have often observed elsewhere, that the affection which David means to impute to them is one of a pure and well-regulated kind; and in this case there is nothing absurd in supposing that believers, under the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost, should rejoice in witnessing the execution of divine judgments.”

7.8

The LORD judges the peoples;

judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness

and according to the integrity that is in me.

St. Augustine says, “But now, since being called he hath held and kept the commandments which he received, he is bold to say, “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to my harmlessness, that is upon me.” Calvin, however, says: “But it is asked, how can David here boast of his own integrity before God, when in other places he deprecates God entering into judgment with him? The answer is easy, and it is this: The subject here treated of is not how he could answer if God should demand from him an account of his whole life; but, comparing himself with his enemies, he maintains and not without cause, that, in respect of them, he was righteous. But when each saint passes under the review of God’s judgment, and his own character is tried upon its own merits, the matter is very different, for then the only sanctuary to which he can betake himself for safety, is the mercy of God.”

5.5

Thou dost hate all who do iniquity,

Calvin again: “And assuredly he would not be the judge of the world if there were not laid up in store with him a recompense for all the ungodly. One use, then, which may be made of this doctrine is this, — when we see the wicked indulging themselves in their lusts, and when, in consequence, doubts steal into our minds as to whether God takes any care of us, we should learn to satisfy ourselves with the consideration that God, who hates and abhors all iniquity, will not permit them to pass unpunished, and although he bear with them for a time, he will at length ascend into the judgment-seat, and show himself an avenger, as he is the protector and defender of his people.”

137.9

How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones

Against the rock.

Calvin says that this could only be asked for in prayer because it had prophesied: “To pray for vengeance would have been unwarrantable, had not God pro-raised it, and had the party against whom it was sought not been reprobate and incurable; for as to others, even our greatest enemies, we should wish their amendment and reformation.”

Augustine makes it apply to our spiritual life: “What are the little ones of Babylon? Evil desires at their birth. For there are, who have to fight with inveterate lusts. When lust is born, before evil habit giveth it strength against thee, when lust is little, by no means let it gain the strength of evil habit; when it is little, dash it. But thou fearest, lest though dashed it die not; “Dash it against the Rock; and that Rock is Christ.”

Stellman and Hahn

Jason Stellman’s notice of conversion has been the topic of the week in certain Reformed circles. A lot of good commentary has been offered on why this conversion happened and what was wrong about it. Peter Leithart, in particular, has penned several great entries on the subject.

Stellman’s trajectory matches Scott Hahn’s in many regards, with the exception of Hahn being into theonomy for about ten seconds before he jumped. This reminds me of a post I wrote seven years ago, which said in part:

So under Hahn’s linear view, when one linchpin was pulled out of his system, the entire thing collapsed. Sola Scriptura was not taught in the Bible, therefore his Protestant apologetic was made of straw.

Opposed to this viewpoint is a web based, nonlinear, postmodern epistemology. This type of thinking has been described as “all of the beliefs in the system standing in relations of mutual support, but none being epistemically prior to the others.” (Greco and Sosa) My pastor said that Hahn could have started from the fact that angels exist, and built upon that, for example, rather than Sola Scriptura.

I’m more of a critical realist, so I’m not sure that I totally agree with this approach, but I do think it has merit. In my view, the historical record does not support the outlandish claims of apologists for Rome and the Eastern Orthodox. St. Luke painting icons of Mary anyone?

Constitution of the Anglican Mission in the Americas VI

Update: As a commenter points out, “borrowing” legal texts is accepted and is not considered plagiarism. This means that the sources of these passages are what matters, not the fact that they are included in the AMiA Constitution.

The mélange of undocumented borrowing from other (mainly Roman) sources continues as we read Articles 15 and 16. Beginning with the AMiA document:

Section 1: Members of the Society seek to live in life-giving reciprocal communion with all the members of the Anglican Family. They shall endeavor to promote common initiatives or participate in them through local collaboration, ministry partnerships and concordats with other Anglican ecclesiastical entities that acknowledge and affirm the vocational missional model in order to collaborate in spreading the Gospel, through evangelism and church planting and serving the cause of ecclesial unity.

Compared with Title VIII In Communion With The Franciscan Family And The Church Article 98 (Rule 1):

Secular Franciscans should seek to live in life-giving reciprocal communion with all the members of the Franciscan Family. They should be ready to promote common initiatives or participate in them with the religious of the First, Second and Third Orders, with Secular Institutes, and with other lay ecclesial groups that recognize St. Francis as a model and inspiration in order to collaborate in spreading the Gospel, removing the causes of marginalization, and serving the cause of peace.

The AMiA:

Section 2: The Members of the Society should fulfill with dedication the Mission duties with which they are called, always mindful of their relations to the local Church. They should lend their help to activities of their apostolic industries as well as to the activities existing in the jurisdictions they are in relation to. In the spirit of service, they should make themselves present, as a sodality within the life of the local church where invited. They should be ready to collaborate with other ecclesial groups in those places and participate in the common life where possible.

Ibid, Article 100

The Secular Franciscans should fulfill with dedication the duties with which they are occupied in their relations to the local Church. They should lend their help to activities of the apostolate as well as to the social activities existing in the diocese.*) In the spirit of service, they should make themselves present, as the fraternity of the SFO, within the life of the diocese. They should be ready to collaborate with other ecclesial groups and to participate in pastoral councils.

The AMiA:

Section1: As the Church of Christ has for a long time past been distressed by separations and schisms among Christians, so that the unity for which our Lord prayed is impaired and the witness to his gospel is grievously hindered, it is the duty of clergy and people of this society to do their utmost not only to avoid occasions of strife but also to seek in penitence and brotherly charity to heal such divisions.

And the Canons of the Church of England, Section A, 8 Of schisms:

Forasmuch as the Church of Christ has for a long time past been distressed by separations and schisms among Christian men, so that the unity for which our Lord prayed is impaired and the witness to his gospel is grievously hindered, it is the duty of clergy and people to do their utmost not only to avoid occasions of strife but also to seek in penitence and brotherly charity to heal such divisions.

It should be obvious that the AMiA document is a mish-mash of different sources, thrown together, essentially plagiarized, and thoroughly Roman Catholic in character. There is precious little of the Reformation in this document, and the trajectory of this document is away from the Articles of Religion and towards the Tractarians, which is to say, towards Rome. The only obstacle in that path is women’s ordination and Papal obedience. So in order to have your cake and eat it too, you reject the doctrines of the Anglican Reformation, but maintain your independence from Roman authority.

Constitution of the Anglican Mission in the Americas V

Reading on through the document, I have found some more “borrowings”, such as:

Article 12: Missional Spirituality

Section 1: The spirituality of the Society is a plan of life centered on the person and on the following of Christ and the practical application of the Great Commission rather than a detailed program to be put into practice.

Compared with The General Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order, Chapter II, Title I, Article 9, Rule 5:

The spirituality of the Secular Franciscan is a plan of life centered on the person and on the following of Christ, rather than a detailed program to be put into practice.

Back to the AMiA:

Section 2: The members of the Society are committed to following the example and the teachings of Christ and advancing those teaching through evangelism, church planting, formation and outreach.  The Society endeavors to foster love for the Word of the Lord through a commitment to Word, Sacrament and Spirit as they have been received and proclaimed by the Church.

Lifted from the Franciscans Rule 4 par. 3:

The Secular Franciscan, committed to following the example and the teachings of Christ, must personally and assiduously study the Gospel and Sacred Scripture. The fraternity and its leaders should foster love for the word of the Gospel and help the brothers and sisters to know and understand it as it is proclaimed by the Church with the assistance of the Spirit.

The AMiA:

Section 5: The Act of Commitment and the Solemn Declarations

The clergy and laity do not take vows but instead express “the bond of charity” by making an “Act of Commitment.” The “bond of charity” is best described as the expression of a voluntary desire on the part of the member of the Society to be a member of the Society.

Comparted with The Oratory of St John Vianney, FAQs:

The Oratorians of St John Vianney do not take vows but instead express “the bond of charity” by making an “Act of Committment”. The “bond of charity” is best described as the expression of a voluntary desire on the part of the Oratorian to be a member of the fellowship of the Oratory.

The AMiA:

The idea of the Mission Society is that members strive, for missional service in and for Christ’s Church, lived in a spirit of humility and prayer, where obedience is offered to the Society and the local church out of fraternal love rather than through any external compulsion.

The Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri:

The ideal of the Oratory is community life and priestly service lived in a spirit of prayer, and in which obedience is offered out of fraternal love and not through the compulsion of formally vowed obedience.