Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Revisionist Recipe and a Reasserter's Rhythmic Response

"Christian orthodoxy is a strange and wondrous thing,unknown to many scholars and to many conventional Christians." Rt. Rev. Dr. C. FitzSimons Allison "The Cruelty of Heresy" 1994 p.155

"The Revisionist Formulary and Operant Catechism" (Longer Form) was first posted five years ago today by a "Theodora" comment #12 over at StandFirm in Faith). Yes, I have been holding onto it for that long. A recent Facebook back and forth about the terms, reappraiser and reasserter and whether or not they were pejorative made me drag this out of my unfinished draft list. I have made a few revisions, and I will add a few points as to how this relates to our current woes with my revisionist bishop.

I. I have these feelings and desires.

II. They must certainly be God-given for God created pleasure, and he desires for us to be happy.

III. People will tell me that my feelings and desires disagree with the counsel of Scripture which is the very Word of God, the Gospels, the teachings of the Apostles, the Councils of the early Church, with 2000 years of teachings of Church fathers, theologians, Popes, Archbishops, Bishops, saints and martyrs. I shall ignore them and find people who believe as I believe.

IV. All who oppose me and my friends are evil, ugly, mean, phobic, vile meanies. You must agree with us.

V. If you do not agree, you are wrong, and you must listen to us until you agree (this is called the "Listening Process")...(repeat I-V ad infinitum)

VI. During step V., we will organize and propose resolutions to the General Convention of the Church asking for our beliefs to be recognized, blessed, ordained, and liturgised.

Note that the formula starts with feelings. These are the same feelings that led my bishop to attest to seeing the "fruit of the Spirit" in homosexual coupling.

How can Anglicanism respond to the revisionist formula?

The Rev'd Canon Dr. Ashley Null worked it out in his 2005 paper The Thirty Nine Articles and Reformation Anglicanism: Biblical Authority Defined and Applied. It is 29 pages long which is about the same length as the Bishop of Upper South Carolina's recent pastoral and theological letter on how same sex blessings are supported by the Bible. Canon Ashley's work might have been helpful to our bishop as he struggled with his theology. In part, modern revisionism in the Episcopal church is the result of placing the wisdom of the Articles in fine print in the back of our prayer books as Historical Documents and not keeping them in mind as we tackle new challenges to the Church.

"According to the Thirty-Nine Articles, as Christians we can wear shirts made of cotton and polyester, but two Christian men should not have sex with each other. Why? The first has no effect on our relationship with God in Christ, but the second puts us out of harmony with God and the rhythms by which he has created us to live." 

(Out of harmony with the rhythms we hear in the Bible)

"Music is a helpful analogy. Learning to distinguish between contrasting voices in the biblical witness is like developing an ear for the individual elements of Bach’s contrapuntal compositions. To appreciate fully the richness of both the Bible and Bach one needs to hear the distinct differences within each work. Yet, the intended ultimate effect of both Bach’s music and the biblical narrative is a harmonious resolution of those internal tensions which brings light and life to the soul. Those modern biblical commentaries which use contrasting elements in Scripture as a justification for choosing to follow only those parts that suit their authors’ prejudices are like many modern works of serious music. Their atonal, disjointed dissonance all too often reflects the disorder and deep sighs of a human heart struggling to find meaning in life apart from the abiding presence of Jesus Christ.  To avoid such a fate for Anglicanism, the leadership of the Edwardian and Elizabethan churches used the Articles both to define the Anglican understanding of that unifying vision and to defend it from the false teachings of both medieval Catholicism and radical Protestantism."  (p.21)
As far as today's Anglican troubles go, 
"As with the first reformation that began our life as an independent Church, our best way forward today requires reasserting the biblical wisdom of our past. " (p.28)
  Read it all.


  1. Pewster,
    So much of the Roman Catholic criticism of Anglicanism is that Anglicanism was born out of a spirit of disobedience by a king interested in his own pleasure. Perhaps this is a part of our spiritual DNA.
    Also,I think it's time for you to write your book.

    1. I was working on it, but the title "Guadalcanal Diary," was already taken.

  2. How about a book title that is takeoff on the Movie, "The Incredible Shrinking Man". TEC: The Incredible Shrinking Church."

    1. Not a book, but that would be a terrifying movie. I can already picture the giant spider having the superimposed face of she who shall be obeyed as one of our hero's foes.