Objections to the Bible: Pilate’s Inscription

Christ Crucified (1632) by Diego Velázquez

One objection to the integrity and inspiration of the Bible is that the sign above Jesus during the Crucifixion is reported differently in each gospel. As with many objections, it seems absurd to think that the earliest Christians would not have noticed this in the accounts and figured out that it was a problem, but putting that aside…Philip Volmer addressed the issue in his book The Modern Student’s Life of Christ on page 263, where he says:

It is variously reported by each of the four evangelists. This may have been because the inscription itself differed in each of the three languages, or perhaps because each evangelist records only a part of what Pilate wrote, as shown in the following scheme.

Pilate:This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
Matthew:This is Jesus ……………….., the King of the Jews.
Mark:……………………………………. The King of the Jews.
Luke:This is …………………………. the King of the Jews.
John:………. Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

ACNA Misconduct: Jay Greener Resigns

Former C4SO Canon Jay Greener.

Jay Greener was the rector of Redeemer North Shore and C4SO Dean of the Midwest. He was the first communications director for the AMiA. A new letter from Bishop Todd Hunter says in part:

Last December, our Ombudsman, Canon Kimberley Pfeiler, received allegations of “actions not appropriate for clergy” involving the Rev. Canon Jay Greener, Rector at Church of the Redeemer. I determined that an independent investigation was required, and the Diocese then engaged Wade Mullen of Pellucid Consulting.

The investigation included interviews with 27 current and past staff, vestry and congregation members, a survey involving 99 Redeemer parishioners, and a review of supporting documentation. On that basis, Pellucid delivered their Independent Assessment Report last week, concluding that they found “credible and compelling” accusations of inappropriate conduct, including the abuse of power, sexual harassment, and alcohol abuse.

After reviewing the report with his Chaplain/Representative, Bishop Kevin Donlon, and discussing the report with me, Jay resigned as Rector of Church of the Redeemer and forfeited his license in C4SO. Because he is canonically resident in the Province of Rwanda, Jay will now be under the care of Archbishop Laurent Mbanda, Vice Chairman of GAFCON, who received the Independent Assessment Report and will ensure Jay’s future accountability. 

C4SO should be commended for moving so fast on this, but why is Greener not being defrocked? Why is he still clergy? Why is it ok for him to serve under the aegis of Rwanda? This looks like just another instance of terrible judgement on the part of Anglicans with regard to Rwanda. It should be troubling to GAFCON as well, which is unfortunately meeting in Kigali next year.

Sanctification of the Water in the 1662 BCP

The baptismal liturgy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer makes an addition that contrasts with the previous theology of Cranmer and Bucer. That addition is the consecration of the baptismal water:

sanctify this Water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that this Child, now to be baptized therein, may receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The original Prayer Books had no indication of the Epiclesis in Communion or the setting aside of the water during Baptism, the revision added the sanctification of the water due to the influence of Bishop John Cosin. Cosin was a high-church Arminian and friend of Laud and Charles I. Cosin was a strong Protestant, while exiled to France he befriended the Hugenots and attended the reformed church at Charenton (see p. 265 of this).  However, he was engaged against the Puritans and Calvinism generally while in England.

The following page from here shows Cosin’s commentary on the BCP at the section on baptism, where he remarks about the water:


Note that Bucer had a problem with this consecration of the water in his review of the BCP to Cranmer [source]:


And here is a historical note on the change:



All of this indicates that this was a change away from a more Reformational understanding of the sacrament of Baptism.

The Illinois Lawsuit and ACNA

William Beasley and Stewart Ruch.

From RNS:

Cherin, who declined to use her last name to protect her daughter’s privacy, filed a lawsuit Wednesday (May 18) in Kane County, Illinois, against Christ Our Light Anglican Church. The lawsuit argues that Cherin’s daughter, who is referred to as Jane Doe, has experienced mental anguish and emotional and physical pain because of the church’s negligence, and it requests over $50,000 in damages. The case will be co-counseled by longtime sexual abuse attorney Boz Tchividjian and local counsel Evan Smola.

An important facet of this lawsuit (potentially) is that it includes the ACNA itself. As Kathryn Post reports:

Though Christ Our Light Anglican is now defunct — online records show that it dissolved in July 2021 — Tchividjian told RNS this doesn’t prevent the church from being part of the case. The lawsuit also names several other Anglican entities as respondents in discovery, including the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, Church of the Resurrection (the diocesan headquarters where Rivera previously attended and volunteered), the Greenhouse Movement (the church planting organization that oversaw Christ Our Light Anglican) and the denomination itself.

Because of the continual bungling of the process and response to serious sexual misconduct in the Upper Midwest–specifically in a Greenhouse church–the ACNA is now facing its worst nightmare, lawsuits. The overarching desire to preserve stability and the illusion of collegiality amongst the College of Bishops is now smashing into the wall of reality. What might the discovery process turn up in terms of how the diocese, the Greenhouse Movement, and the ACNA have handled this serious situation? As Watergate taught us, an organization’s response to a crisis is often worse than the crisis itself.


Robin Lane Fox provides an interesting take on the addressee of Luke and Acts:

Acts and its companion volume, the third Gospel, were dedicated to “most excellent” Theophilus, who wished to “know more exactly” about the faith “of which he had heard.” Only one other type of person is called “most excellent” in the two books: a Roman provincial governor. The usage of contemporary Emperors and the incidence of the title in inscriptions and the papyri confirm that “most excellent” people were people of very considerable rank and position: Theophilus, then, is the cover name for a highly placed figure in Roman circles. Acts’ abrupt ending is explained if “Theophilus” knew the sequel to Paul’s years of arrest. “Theophilus” had heard of Paul’s trial and execution: perhaps he had attended both. He wished to know the truth of a faith which had interested him but now lay under this recent cloud. Acts and the third Gospel are the first, and greatest, of Christian apologies to be addressed to highly placed pagans.

What Does Baptism Do?

What does baptism do? It saves:

1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

It forgives sins:

Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Nicene Creed:

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;

The Belgic Confession:

…as water washes away the filth of the body when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized when sprinkled upon him, so does the blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God.

The Service Book and Hymnal of the Lutheran Church:

Then the Minister, laying his hand on the head of the Child, shall say: Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten thee again of Water and the Holy Ghost, and hath forgiven thee all thy sin, strengthen thee with his grace unto life everlasting. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer:

Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this Child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits;

Why Believe in Jesus?

The existence of the Church is predicated on the historical event of Jesus of Nazareth returning to life from being dead. The Anglican tradition puts it this way:

Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.

This is the teaching of the earliest witnesses as recorded in books in the first century. The Apostle Paul said, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” Paul said that Jesus “by being the first to rise from the dead…would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Tom Wright says:

The actual bodily resurrection of Jesus (not a mere resuscitation but a transforming revivification) clearly provides a sufficient condition of the tomb being empty and the ‘meetings’ taking place. Nobody is likely to doubt that. Once grant that Jesus really was raised, and all the pieces of the historical jigsaw puzzle of early Christianity fall into place. My claim is stronger: that the bodily resurrection of Jesus provides a necessary condition for these things; in other words, that no other explanation could or would do. All the efforts to find alternative explanations fail, and they were bound to do so.

As the Catholic Church teaches,

The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary ‘witnesses to his Resurrection,’ but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.

The man Jesus rose from the dead – you will too. You may rise to wonder and awe, or to terror and pain, but you will rise. This is a bedrock truth in a world that denies truth. This is a key to all of life. Ponder your future and the resurrection of Jesus.

Wright on Worldview

N.T. Wright uses worldview as a basic category through which he reflects on Scripture and the modern world. In The New Testament and the People of God, Wright said:

Worldviews have to do with the presuppositional, pre-cognitive stage of a culture or society. Wherever we find the ultimate concerns of human beings, we find worldviews…’Worldview’, in fact, embraces all deep-level human perceptions of reality, including the question of whether or not a god or gods exist, and if so what he, she, it or they is or are like, and how such a being, or such beings, might related to the world.1In his earlier work, Wright refers to the following books as the basis of his thinking:
Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973
Arthur F. Holmes, Contours of a Worldview, 1983
Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton, The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View, 1984
James H. Olthuis, On Worldviews, 1989
Paul A. Marshall, Sander Griffioen and Richard Mouw, Stained Glass: Worldviews and Social Science, 1989 

In his footnotes, Wright says, “My use of the term is close to the use of ‘symbolic universe’ in e.g. Berger and Luckmann 1966.” He is referring to the book The Social Construction of Reality by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann.

Wright says that worldviews are primarily expressed through story (the now passé ‘narrative’). He says that worldviews “answer the basic questions that determine human existence: who are we, where are we, what is wrong and what is the solution?” He summarizes:

Worldviews are thus the basic stuff of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint for how one should live in it, and above all the sense of identity and place which enables human beings to be what they are.”

Note that Wright subscribes to a form of critical realism, and not any kind of Van Tillian transcendental system of apologetics.
In his latest enormous work Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Wright provides additional insights based on developments of the past two decades. He says:

Worldview-models of various kinds have been tried out. What counts is not some abstract theoretical sophistication…but the heuristic effort, seen quite pragmatically and indeed always provisionally…My own attempts are to be located within that broader social-science enterprise, whether we call it ‘social imaginary’, ‘habitus’, ‘worldview’ or whatever.

Wright expands on what worldview entails:

If the reason for studying worldviews is the recognition that life is complex, multi-layered, and driven by often hidden energies, the method for such study must be appropriate to that quest. Those who engage in this work increasingly insist on the centrality of what may be called a ‘symbolic universe’, a world of artefacts (buildings, coins, clothes, ships) and habitual actions (what I have called ‘praxis’) in which people sense themselves at home and without which they would feel dangerously disoriented.

Wright tips his cap to Brian Walsh:

The worldview-model I am using is the one I developed, with the help of Brian Walsh in particular, as an outgrowth from the work he had done with Richard Middleton. The new version was designed (a) to meet the objection that ‘worldview’ in some of its traditional uses had been too focused on ideas, and (b) to incorporate the many other foundational aspects of human life that Clifford Geertz and others had studied in terms of culture, symbols and so forth.

Wright is outlining a set of tools to think about how people view reality. Whatever you call this, it seems to me an inescapable element of understanding how we relate to the world of people and thought around us.


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    In his earlier work, Wright refers to the following books as the basis of his thinking:
    Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973
    Arthur F. Holmes, Contours of a Worldview, 1983
    Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton, The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View, 1984
    James H. Olthuis, On Worldviews, 1989
    Paul A. Marshall, Sander Griffioen and Richard Mouw, Stained Glass: Worldviews and Social Science, 1989 

Ethnic tension in Rwanda

The Revd David Bagnall writes in the Church Times about Rwanda:

What is more, despite Rwanda’s commitment to creating a “post-ethnic” society in the wake of the genocide, field data suggest that ethnic tensions remain high in the country, not least where access to land and power are concerned. Furthermore, the tension that bubbles away beneath the surface shows serious signs of boiling over in the near future. “We’re sitting on a volcano,” as one Rwandan put it to me.

Could an ACNA diocese go bankrupt?

In Alec Smith’s January 14, 2022 letter to Archbishop Beach regarding Bishop Stewart Ruch and the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, he wrote:

Your Grace, it is imperative for you to know that if the PLT’s 1Provincial Leadership Team plans regarding the continuation of the Rivera investigation and the abuse of power investigation are carried out as proposed, it will bankrupt the UMD. UMD staff have been informed that the Province will require the UMD to bear the costs of these further investigations. …Respectfully, the threat of a thinly-sourced news article should not have been the impetus to justify committing the UMD to finance an additional investigation that will render it insolvent.

What would happen if a diocese went insolvent? What is the state of ACNA’s finances and can it bear the burden of lawsuits and/or investigations if they continue?

Bishop Ruch and others.


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    Provincial Leadership Team