Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nashotah House: There the Atomic Heresy Prevails, "When wild in woods the noble savage ran"

The latest news of the impending trip down the slippery slope of one of the two remaining conservative Anglican seminaries in the U.S., Nashotah House, should serve as a lesson to all of us that when it comes to religion, those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it. What makes the error of the Dean of the House more remarkable is the fact that he, if anyone, should be well informed about the past. So now the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church, the woman who once delivered the worst sermon ever, the woman who has deposed more priests and bishops than any previous Presiding Bishop, the woman who has sued fellow Christians in secular courts including some members of the Board of Nashotah House, will deliver a sermon from the pulpit at Nashotah.

If any seminarians choose to boycott the P.B.'s sermon, I came across one the other day that might serve as a suitable replacement.

If we try to follow C.S. Lewis' advice and read several old books for every new one, we don't have to make a special trip to the library anymore since we have the advantage of the new internet libraries in which one can find a large number of old books, and where one can also find lots of old sermons. Taking a cue from Lewis, let me suggest that for every new sermon we hear, we should pull up three old ones to help build a better foundation and to gain examples with which to compare our modern preacher's efforts.

I was browsing the old sermon section the other day and came across "A little one shall become a thousand" : a sermon preached at the opening of the Cuddesdon Theological Institution, on Thursday, June 15, 1854 by the Right Rev. G. A. Selwyn, D.D.. Bishop of New Zealand. (1854). In it, I found the "atomic heresy" reference. Tracing this backwards forces one to dredge up more old works as I have footnoted for you.
"The first step in the improvement of mankind, has been to bring him out of that state, described by the poet, 
'When wild in woods the noble savage ran.'[1]  
It was to combine the separate atoms of mankind into one system; for religion, to unite them in a Church; for government, to combine them into a state. But every advance of  knowledge or of feeling tends to draw men back again to the state of independent egotism from which they were rescued. What is called in art the division of labour, distributes to each workman his own small part and wheel of the great machine, and by constant practice each becomes perfect in his own branch of the work; but this alone does not give the absolute perfection to the engine. There must be a presiding power to demand from every workman his finished piece, and to unite them all in one body, 'compacted with that which every joint supplieth.' [2] 
That power is found least where it is wanted most, in the Church of Christ. It is found working in government, in law, in science, in medicine, in trade; but it is not found in religion: there the atomic heresy still prevails; and the result so far as it is not overruled by Divine Providence is a tendency to return to chaos.  
This retrograde tendency is the more dangerous, because it is often the direct result of high principle and great earnestness in work, and real advancement in knowledge."  G. A. Selwyn (pp 8-9.)    
What a great warning to a new theological institute. I wonder if they got it?

This question pulled me back to the web and to research what has become of Cuddesdon Theological Institution. It is now Ripon College, Cuddesdon and its web page sums it up in the following,
"Our strength today comes from the acceptance of diversity" 
Acceptance of diversity is coded language at its best. The CofE is the force behind this clear tendency for the atomic heresy to be at work at Cuddeson. Witness the recommendations of the 2009 CofE inspection,

Recommendation 9
We recommend the student handbook include a policy statement on gender, ethnicity and inclusivity with regard to community life. (para 54)
Action Plan:
The revised handbooks for 2009 include policies relating to behaviour in a diverse community, and the use of inclusive language. Draft policies specific to the issues of gender, ethnicity and inclusivity will be prepared for the 2010 handbooks.
This remains an item for follow-up in a future inspection.  The College have committed themselves to including these policies and have begun a process of drafting and consultation.  As noted, it is planned to complete the implementation of this recommendation in the 2010-11 Handbooks.

Recommendation 10
We recommend that specific opportunities for theological reflection on the diversities within the life of the community should be created, so that experience of diversity may be integrated into learning and formation. (para 61)

Action Plan:
A thorough discussion of the challenges and opportunities of diversity within the community was held at the Governors’ meeting in June 2009. The Governors commended the subtle and unobtrusive process of continuing reflection on diversity which is woven into every aspect of the college’s life, worship and teaching.
The commendation for "the subtle and unobtrusive process of continuing reflection on diversity which is woven into every aspect of the college’s life, worship and teaching" is particularly alarming. Selwyn must be turning over in his grave (many of the old timers I quote seem to be doing that lately).

The message to today's seminarians should be clear, and I don't think they need to hear more from me, and certainly they shouldn't listen to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church, but instead they should look backwards, and study the old books.

This tendency of mine to research things in a somewhat retrograde fashion is intended to combat the retrograde tendency to chaos, and I apologize if I sometimes create greater chaos in the minds of my readers. Today's exercise is an effort to demonstrate that the atomic heresy is an ever constant danger as real to us now as it was to Selwyn in 1854, and as it was to the fictional character of Almanz in Dryden's 1672 classic that Selwyn referenced (footnote [1]).

To combat the pull of the heresy, one must depend on the "presiding power" of the Word of God to keep things bound together otherwise, wild in the woods we shall run.

[1] Almanz:
"No man has more contempt than I of breath,
But whence hast thou the right to give me death?
Obeyed as sovereign by thy subjects be,
But know, that I alone am king of me.
I am as free as nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began,
When wild in woods the noble savage ran." - John Dryden, The Conquest of Granada, 1672 Part 1, Act I, scene i. [p_040]

[2] Ephesians 4:15-17
15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Missing Verses Weaken the Foundation: The Final Jeopardy Answer is...


Today's lectionary readings contained another two of those curious gaps which I have labelled as "missing verses" in various blog posts on this site.

In the first, Leviticus 19, verses 3-8 get cut from Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18.
3 You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.
4 Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the Lord your God.
5 When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable in your behalf.
6 It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day; and anything left over until the third day shall be consumed in fire.
7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination; it will not be acceptable.
8 All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to the Lord; and any such person shall be cut off from the people.
I find the deletion of verses 4-5 particularly troublesome as it seems that lack of respect for parents and the rise of idolatry are important problems in the present age. Let me be overly generous and assume that the lectionary editors desired to avoid causing pain to the many fatherless children of our time, children who have no cause to respect their fathers. I would beg them to reconsider this omission because of the importance of transmitting God's guiding word with confidence so that there would be hope for future generations to regain the wisdom of God's teaching and to put it into their child-rearing practices.

The deletion of verses 6-8 is in keeping with the typical pattern of the lectionary editors to remove references to abominations, punishment, or being cut off from the people as the consequence of acting against God's commandments, and other similar things that are too scary for the common folk to hear on Sunday morning.

The reading from 1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23 cuts out
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—
13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.
14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.
15 If the work is burned, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
It would appear that the lectionary committee shaved off parts of today's lessons in order to steer the minds of congregants and preachers alike to a common theme of loving the poor and all others including one's enemies, all of which should be rather simple stuff for the average preacher to communicate and for the average congregant to digest. Admittedly, 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 might be the most difficult part for the typical homilist or pewsitter  to tackle.

If we aren't going to hear it preached, at least let us take the time to try to sort it out and maybe find out what the lectionary editors found troubling enough in these verses to get them the axe. Time to pick up the old Matthew Henry (1662-1714) commentary (h/t Churchmouse Campanologist),

Re: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
"This is building well upon a good foundation, making all of apiece, when ministers not only depend upon Christ as the great prophet of the church, and take him for their guide and infallible teacher, but receive and spread the doctrines he taught, in their purity, without any corrupt mixtures, without adding or diminishing. Others build wood, hay, and stubble, on this foundation; that is, though they adhere to the foundation, they depart from the mind of Christ in many particulars, substitute their own fancies and inventions in the room of his doctrines and institutions, and build upon the good foundation what will not abide the test when the day of trial shall come, and the fire must make it manifest, as wood, hay, and stubble, will not bear the trial by fire, but must be consumed in it..."
 "...Those who spread true and pure religion in all the branches of it, and whose work will abide in the great day, shall receive a reward. And, Lord, how great! how much exceeding their deserts! There are others  whose works shall be burnt (1 Corinthians 3:15), whose corrupt opinions and doctrines, or vain inventions and usages in the worship of God, shall be discovered, disowned, and rejected, in that day - shall be first manifested to be corrupt, and then disapproved of God and rejected..."
"...Observe, Those who hold the foundation of Christianity, though they build hay, wood, and stubble, upon it, may be saved. This may help to enlarge our charity. We should not reprobate men for their weakness: for nothing will damn men but wickedness. He shall be saved, yet so as by fire, saved out of the fire. He himself shall be snatched out of that flame which will consume his work. This intimates that it will be difficult for those that corrupt and deprave Christianity to be saved. God will have no mercy on their works, though he may pluck them as brands out of the burning." Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible 
Henry goes on to note that the doctrine of purgatory may have come from these verses, and he proceeds to lay that doctrine on the ash heap.

Henry focuses his attention on Church leaders, and this is because Paul is directing his letter to those in Corinth who are responsible for building upon the foundation of Christ which he has preached. The problem of false doctrine is not new, and we will forever be faced with new constructs not just of straw, but of plastic, and of fanciful novelties and shiny innovations linked to the desires of modern culture.

As we take on the false Gospel and the false teachers so prevalent in today's church, we should remember that we are all in danger of the same fire, and we are all dependent of God's mercy to save us from the fire to which false doctrine condemns us, or should I say, "Final Jeopardy."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

COTUB: Communion of the Unbaptized as Practiced in Upper South Carolina

At a recent funeral in our parish church, a priest from a neighboring town acted as the officiant. In the course of the service, in front of an overfilled church and parish hall, he invited all baptized Christians to come up for communion. This was a bit of a change from the invitation given by our rector (who was our of town) at recent large services such as Christmas and Easter where "all" were invited to share in the bread and wine. Sharp eyed observers saw this coming when the new rector (then acting as Priest-in-Charge) removed the old instructions (that the baptized are to partake of the communion) from the service bulletin.

During the walk-abouts in the days preceding the election of Andrew Waldo as the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, it became known that he practiced Communion of the unbaptized (COTUB) at his parish church in Minnesota. When my question was pulled from the hat and presented to him, Bishop-candidate Waldo claimed that he only did it because his assistant priest wanted it. He assured everyone at the walk-about that he WOULD NOT "foist it" on us if elected Bishop of Upper South Carolina.



Since it is apparent that communion of the unbaptized is now accepted practice in our parish, I would like people to be aware that there are a number of reasons why it should not be practiced besides that fact that it puts the lie to our bishop's promise. Here is one,

"The grace which we have by the Holy Eucharist doth not begin but continue life.  No man therefore receiveth this sacrament before Baptism, because no dead thing is capable of nourishment.  That which groweth must of necessity first live."
~ Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity V.lxvii.1 h/t Creedal Christian

So the next time you hear your priest(ess) toss around the old "Hooker's three legged stool" line as if Hooker is an authority that she/he respects, fire the above quotation right back at em. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is Pulling One's Punches Part of Reconciliation?

In today's lectionary readings we heard several messages about God's commandments, and how wonderful it would be to follow them,
Happy are those whose way is blameless,
   who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
   who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
   but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts
   to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
   in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
   having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
   when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I wil
l observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me. Psalm 119:1-8 
and that it is a free will choice kind of thing in,
Sirach 15:15-20
If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water;
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
Before each person are life and death,
and whichever one chooses will be given.
For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power and sees everything;
his eyes are on those who fear him,
and he knows every human action.
He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
and he has not given anyone permission to sin.
and in Jesus' clarification of the commandments in Matthew 5:21-37 we see how difficult it is to follow the commandments perfectly or for our righteousness to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (last week's lesson Matthew 5:13-20),
‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one. 

Matthew 5:21-37
In her sermon today, the Diocese's new Canon of Christian Formation focused on the subject of Christian reconciliation as revealed in Matthew 5 and in her work in youth ministry when she had to deal with teenage drama queens in Youth Group.

In so doing, I think much of the punch was pulled from the Gospel text, and I was left without the body blows to my feelings of self righteousness that Jesus is attempting to beat out of me. How can I be reconciled to the Lord when I am not taught that I need to be?

Must our newly ordained clergy follow in the footsteps of the last generation of Episcopal preachers and shy away from any mention of Hell, or of the consequences of Sin, or of our utter inability to abide by the depth of God's commandments? How hard is it to give wise counsel to the person who sees in these lessons their own lustful, wandering eyes, or to answer the one who is divorced and facing the fact that in God's eye, remarriage would be adultery? How hard is it to preach on the subject of our universal guilt and the need for repentance as well as reconciliation?

How lovely indeed it would be to be blameless and to walk in the law of the Lord (Psalm 119) or to choose to keep the commandments (Sirach). Is it even possible?

Jonathan Edwards was right, we are sinners in the hands of an angry God. Alas, Edwards' generation of preachers is gone.

How can two Christians be reconciled to one another if they do not both understand the simple fact that they are both sinners and in desperate, desperate need of a Savior? After one Christian has redefined God's commandments so that what was considered to be a sexual sin has now become a blessing from God, how can they be reconciled with a Christian whose says, "No, no, you can't change that"?

Is the former still a Christian?

Is the latter responding in a Christian manner?

The Christian who has abandoned the Apostles' teachings as regards sexual sin is in danger of being labeled a non-christian by the other, and therefore reconciliation is not possible until repentance and renunciation of whichever teaching proves to be false occurs.

Unfortunately, in the Episcopal church, in the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, and in the Church of England through the words of Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canturbury, we see a concerted effort to pull the punches from Christ's warnings of the dangers of sexual sin, and we are being asked to reconcile with teachers of a false Gospel which claims that what was once sinful is now blessed.

The ultimate question of Christian reconciliation as regards to specific issues of Gospel importance seems to be whether or not the adherents of one particular view have slipped into non-christian thinking, for if they have, then we are no longer dealing with a question of reconciliation and conversation, but instead it becomes a question of conversion.

When delivering the Gospel to the congregation, please pull no punches lest we not see the urgent need for reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When delivering the Gospel to the non-christian, please pull no punches for you are not doing them any favors by soft selling the message of repentance and salvation. When working the work of reconciliation between warring factions in the Church, if you see heresy, punch it in the mouth!  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shepherd Behavior: A Model for Today's Shepherds

When one engages in the discipline of daily Bible study, there are times when the familiarity of the verses seems to be more of a hindrance than a help. The mind drifts off as the eyes scroll down the page, and before you know it you are at the end of a chapter, and you realize that you took nothing away from the page or screen. At other times, something either jumps out or steps in and brings you back into focus giving you pause to reflect. A structured way to help develop this focus is lectio divina, but most of us probably will never make the effort to do anything more than letting our eyes rest from time to time as we read the Bible, and we will more than likely stop and think only about those verses we are least familiar with or those parts with which we struggle the most.

What could be more familiar than the following passage from Luke Chapter 2,
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, 
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.   Luke 2:8-20 NKJV

I found myself scanning through this section of Luke on Epiphany. The Christmas stories were all fresh in my mind from hearing them in church, so I found myself drawn to the story of the shepherds and how Luke might be giving us a pattern upon which shepherds of the Church might model their behavior.

  • 1) "... and they were greatly afraid." Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, Psalm 111:10). 
  • 2) Listen to what angels say when they speak to you.
  • 3) Verify, go ahead and prove for yourself that which the Lord has revealed. Find Him where the Gospel stars point. 
  • 4) Make this revelation widely known.
  • 5) Return to the Lord and praise him for all the things you have heard and seen. 

It all seems rather simple doesn't it? Note that there is nothing in there about the shepherds creating a new revelation more in keeping with the current worldview, and then trying to place that in the manger all the while pointing to it and saying,

"Look at what we have found! Let us write a book, get it into the Episcopal church Publishing Catalog, and maybe get asked to speak at a Kanuga conference, or make a video for the Discovery Channel." 

Nope, none of that. Maybe I should add,

  • 6) Expect no financial reward from the owner of the sheep. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Salt of the Earth, Think of the Love God Savors If it Holds its Flavor

Today's sermon focused on the Gospel reading which contained Matthew 5:13,
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."

I never thought that salt could literally lose its flavor, and I realize that Jesus was referring to people and their faithlessness, but can salt really lose its flavor?

Common salt occurs when one atom of sodium and one atom of chlorine join up in an ionic bond. The resulting compound is referred to as sodium chloride or NaCl. A pile of crystalline salt may get contaminated with something that spoils the taste, and Jesus may be referring to this as salt that has lost its savor, and that is a scary thought for the world is always trying to stir in things, additions, novelties, or new teachings to spoil the faithful.

Thankfully, we have the Master Chemist who can separate wheat from tares, and who can restore the savor to salt that has lost its flavor.

Pray, Lord Jesus, save us, restore our faith, and preserve us as we swim in this salty world.

Just a little drop [atom] of chlorine, valence minus one
Swimming through the sea, diggin' the scene, just havin' fun
She's not worried about the shape or size of her outer shell--
it's fun to ionize
Just a little atom of chlorine with an unfilled shell.

Somewhere in that sea lurks handsome sodium
With enough eletrons on his outside shell plus an extra one
"Somewhere in this deep blue sea, there is a negative
for my extra energy
Yes somewhere in this foam, my positive will find a home"

Then unsuspecting chlorine felt a magnetic pull
She looked down and her outside shell was full!
Sodium cried "What a gas, be my bride,
And I'll change your name from chlorine to chloride!"

Now the sea evaporates to make the clouds for rain and snow,
Leaving her chemical conpounds in the absence of H2O
But the crystals that wash upon the shore are happy ones,
so if you never thought before,
Think of the love that you eat ... when you salt your meat!

by Kate and Ann McGarrigle

Ye are the salt of the earth. Think of the love God savors if ye keep your flavor.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Foundations Built On the Shifting Sands of the Heart

As I lay awake one long and restless night pondering how to get a boat off of a beach that it had grounded itself upon during a storm, I devised many ingenious solutions. I thought about how to jack the boat up so that it could be hoisted it onto a trailer, and I envisioned the construction of ramps to help slide it into the water. I realized that the main problem in any engineering solution I came up with was the sand on the beach. I would have to deal with the friction and damage caused by sand scraping the hull, but what I needed most was a firm footing on this sandy beach in order to get anything done. Even if I were to try to bring in a crane, its base would need to be secure before any kind of lift could be attempted.

Sleepless nights are often times of prayer, and on this night the following words of Jesus came to mind:
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7:24-27 (AKJV)
After first securing a firm foundation, the solution to my problem became apparent and the job was accomplished with the barest minimum of hand tools, rope, and a few "Heave ho's".

Where am I going with this you may ask...

The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina has taken the past year and a half trying to solve the problem presented to it by the authorization of a rite of same-sex blessings approved by the General Convention of the Episcopal church. Right now, our Bishop is putting the finishing touches on his
"Biblical, Theological and Pastoral Reflection (not a letter to be read in church) and "six-week curriculum with 1-3 additional session options for deeper study and reflection" (overdue) which will purport to show how his solution will keep the diocese off the rocks with both oars in the water pulling in the same direction.  

A year and a half of work by the Bishop on top of a decade of efforts by TEc...  Shouldn't the solution be easier to find?

I suspect the problem of justifying the "facts on the ground" is that there is no firm ground upon which to build a theological argument to bless something the Bible condemns. Re-writing the Bible cannot be justified. Ramps, jacks, cranes, and slipways won't move Holy Scripture. A new foundation must be laid by those who would declare blessed what the Lord and his Apostles consider sinful. As we have heard in the past, we will probably hear a primary appeal to the heart as the foundation upon which our Bishop's solution to the same sex blessing problem is based.

Such an appeal would seem squishy to me.

Can a foundation of human hearts and emotions alone support a Church?

Can it keep the walls together?

What theological flying buttresses will our modern day Church engineers come up with to try to keep the whole thing from imploding?


Sunday, February 02, 2014

The Holy Game, The Eternal Dance

In the final chapter of "The Problem of Pain," C.S. Lewis develops several difficult to follow arguments when he tackles the subject of Heaven. For example, his thoughts about sentient animals and whether or not the family pet goes to heaven are admittedly speculative given the lack of a Biblical basis for his and our "old maid" desire to be in heaven with the animal that we cared for during life.

As Lewis plays with the subject of Heaven he scores some points when he writes about giving up the "self". His imagery makes me think of the Holy Trinity.
"The golden apple of selfhood, thrown among the false gods, became an apple of discord because they scrambled for it. They did not know the first rule of the holy game, which is that every player must by all means touch the ball and then immediately pass it on. To be found with it in your hands is a fault: to cling to it, death. But when it flies to and fro among the players too swift for eye to follow, and the great master Himself leads the revelry, giving Himself eternally to His creatures in the generation, and back to Himself in the sacrifice, of the Word, then indeed the eternal dance 'makes heaven drowsy with the harmony'." C.S. Lewis, "The Problem of Pain" 1940. Harper Collins  2001 edition p.158.

This seemed appropriate to post on a Candlemas/Groundhog Day/Theological Education/Super Bowl Sunday as one tries to juggle all the games that the false gods of the pantheists, the Presiding Bishop, and the NFL are throwing at us to try to keep us from focusing on the master of the revelry Himself.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
   to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
   my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house,
   ever singing your praise.
5 Happy are those whose strength is in you,
   in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca
   they make it a place of springs;
   the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
   the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
   give ear, O God of Jacob!
9 Behold our shield, O God;
   look on the face of your anointed.
10 For a day in your courts is better
   than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
   he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
   from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
   happy is everyone who trusts in you. Psalm 84

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Proof of Principle

As proof of the Pewster principle that,
"Theological and Biblical ignorance in the pews pays for and promotes theological and Biblical ignorance in the pulpit, in the House of Bishops, and in the seminaries all of which serve to perpetuate theological and Biblical ignorance in the pews."
...the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church has let it be known that, by virtue of General Convention Resolution 2006-D008, tomorrow is "Theological Education Sunday", and each congregation is asked to commit 1% of their annual discretionary income to the accredited theological education institutions of the Episcopal church.

How dumb does she think we pewsitters are? Pretty dumb I guess... asking us to send money to institutions such as the Episcopal Divinity School whose president and dean claims,
"These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done." (Link to StandFirm in Faith article)
Are we dumber than a box of rocks?

If the money rolls in, then we are, and the Pewster principle is validated.