Monthly Archives: March 2012

All Things Barth

Thanks to Darren over at Out of Bounds for pointing us to this treasure: a website devoted to Karl Barth, which includes video clips of Barth.

Barbara Zellweger, Karl Barth’s great-granddaughter, has just launched an astonishing new Web site devoted to her great-grandfather, at KBarth.org. Go browse it and bookmark it now!
Included in the Multimedia section is a large collection of photos, and those audio clips of Barth’s “Evangelical Theology” lectures in Chicago and Princeton that a few of us have heard before. But brand new are three video clips of Karl Barth in the flesh, extracts from the documentary film JA und NEIN, Karl Barth zum Gedaechtnis (1967), directed by Heinz Knorr and Calwer Verlag.

Check it out!

Women of The Reformation: Jeanne D’Albret

Jeanne D’Albret was Queen of Navarre in France. In 1560 she publicly professed her faith in Calvinism. Jeanne’s confession of faith appears to be more genuine than that of her husband. Antoine de Bourbon had converted to Calvinism, but it appears that he did it only for political purposes. Later, when the King of Spain offers him more land and power, he would denounce Calvinism and return to the Catholic faith. Anotoine made Jeanne a prisoner in her own home. Catherine de Medici wrote to Jeanne and urged her to concede to her husband and renounce her Calvinist faith.

Jeanne answered that were she in possession of her son and her kingdom she would plunge them both to the bottom of the sea rather than go to mass. Antoine took their son, Henry, into custody. Jeanne enjoined the boy never to go to mass on pain of being disowned.**

In 1564 Jeanne issued an edict declaring that Huguenot (Protestant) marriages should be considered equally valid under the law, and that heads of households could not dictate the faith of their children or servants. In 1566, Jeanne issued an order suppressing Catholic processionals. This edict caused three revolts. Jeanne’s method for dealing with these revolts was to quash them, and then offer amnesty. Of course, she became jaded when the insurrectionists whom she had pardoned twice would rebel the third time.

While in La Rochelle, she convened a Synod, and Theodore Beza, a student of John Calvin, moderated. She signed off on all the decisions made by that Synod, and even posed her own question to the Synod: Could she employ Catholics in the civil administration of Navarre? The answer given back to her was that she was to prefer “the Reformed, and to reject the obdurate Catholics, to employ those amenable to instruction.”

In 1571 there was a brief peace between the Huguenots and the Catholics with the signing of the Peace of St. Germain. In 1572 Jeanne agreed to a marriage treaty between her son Henry (who would become Henry IV of France) and Margaret, a Catholic, (the sister of Charles IX). Jeanne died shortly after the signing the marriage treaty and rumours began to fly that Catherine de Medici had had her poisoned. Two months later, Henry and Margaret were wed, and in the glow of the wedding celebration, six days later the Huguenots who had descended on the city to witness the wedding were all slaughtered in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. While Catholic reports would say only a few hundred to few thousand died, Protestant reports put the death toll in the tens of thousands. The massacre would cripple the Huguenot movement in France.

**See Roland Bainton, Women of the Reformation in France and England. Minneapolis: Ausburg Publishers, 1973.

Anglican Week — Writers Who Influenced My Walk

It’s interesting to look back through my sixteen years as a Christian and to see how many of the writers and scholars who helped deepened my faith were Anglicans. Why is that? I don’t know. But I think it might have something to do with the fact that Anglicanism encourages the life of the mind, and does not promote an anti-intellectualism that is common with other forms of Christianity.

In the first year after I became a Christian I devoured books by C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity. The Great Divorce. The Problem of Pain. And then someone pointed out that he was the author of the Narnia series that I had grown up reading, so I went back and read them again. (How did my atheist dad let me read Narnia? Aslan is so very much a Christ character.) My favourite book: The Screwtape Letters.

As I began studying theology in college, I was introduced to the writings of Alister McGrath, and I continue to put his newest books on my ever-growing “to read” list. (Have you seen how many books he has published the last couple of years? It’s hard to keep up!). My favourite book: The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind.

Speaking of my ever-growing “to read” list, I’ve added some books by John Polkinghorne. Polkinghorne explores the relationship between science and faith, and at some point I would like to get into that literature.

And of course, I think the Anglican author that has had the biggest impact on my faith is N.T. Wright. From his Christian Origins and the Question of God series, to his interaction with John Piper on the issue of justification, and of course his books written to a broader audience, my theology has been profoundly challenged and shaped by Dr. Wright. My two favourite books: After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters and Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church.

So who is your favourite Anglican writer?

********
So ends Anglican Week here at Cheese-Wearing Theology. I hope you enjoyed it. A big shout out of thanks to Dell, Erin and Dustin who contributed posts. Now back to our regularly scheduled program!

Anglican Week — A Few Anglican Blogs

A few Anglican blogs from a variety of countries and perspectives.

Anglican Essentials. This is also a Canadian Christian blog.

Creedal Christian by Bryan Owen. Bryan currently serves as the Canon for Parish Ministry at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi.

Fr. Jonathan’s blog.


Crusty Old Dean
by Tom Ferguson. Tom currently serves as Dean of Bexley Hall Seminary, one of the eleven accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church.

Musings of a Hardline Moderate by Carson Clark. Check out one of his recent posts on The Question of Ultimate Commitments Raised by AMiA’s upheaval.


Refractions
by Doug Chaplin. Check out his post Anglicans and the Authority of Scripture.


New West Anglican Blog
from the diocese of New Westminister.

Thinking Anglicans.

Anglican Samizdat by David Jenkins.

KiwiAnglo Blog. A blog from New Zealand.

Preludium by Mark Harris. Mark is a priest in the Episcopal diocese of Delaware.


What Anglican blogs are you reading?

Anglican Week — From Steep Learning Curve to Blessing

One of the biggest challenges we had when we first started attending the Anglican church was the prayer book. The prayer book, in this case the Book of Alternative Service, is THE book that is used in the service. It contains all the prayers and liturgy. And so for the first several months, Chuck and I would be madly scrambling through the green book trying to figure out where we were supposed to be. It helped that the church bulletin had the order of service printed in it, along with the page numbers where we were supposed to turn, but it was still a challenge. And then, add on top of that the hymnal and the pew Bible, and we ended up trying to balance three books open to different pages all at the same time.

I didn’t understand why we had to flip/skip through so many pages in the prayer book. Why were we starting on page 190 and then jumping ahead thirty pages? And then flip back to page 200, and so forth. The format didn’t make any sense. And so, finally, I took a BAS home and started reading from the beginning. I couldn’t believe how much stuff was in this little book!

I wish I had had this video when I was so confused over the prayer book. This is probably the clearest (and shortest) presentation of the contents of the prayer book. In this video, he’s talking about the Book of Common Prayer, but the content and structure is basically the same to the BAS.

As we became more familiar with the prayer book, three things happened: First we eventually stopped clumsily navigating the prayer book. We learned when we didn’t have to necessarily flip pages, that sometimes only the priest had to flip pages to say a collect (prayer), while we could stay on the page we were at. Second, we began to memorize parts of the liturgy, which allowed us to not open the prayer book at all in certain parts of the service. Third, it became a valuable resource that helped structure our family devotions.

I have written about our family devotions before, but to sum up, we’ve adapted the Evening Prayer service to become our family devotional time. We regularly say the Apostles’ Creed (or ‘Hear O Israel’ to change it up a little bit). We sing the Lord’s Prayer, and we follow the Daily Office Scripture readings. It has given our family devotion time structure and continuity, and it has been the longest lasting devotion time in our house. We’ve tried umpteen different devotional systems/books and none of them have lasted more than a few weeks. Not only has using the Prayer book stuck, it has also produced some amazing fruit. Here is just an example of the devotional fruit that has resulted from using the prayer book.

Do you use a prayer book like the BAS or Book of Common Prayer? What do you like about it?

Anglican Week — Guest Post: “10 Things I like About Going to An Anglican Church”

Welcome Erin Ortlund! Erin is one of my heroes. She’s an amazing woman of God. In her spare time, she also blogs, and besides some great recipes it’s also THE place to get information about Americans living in Canada.

******
10 things I like about going to an Anglican Church

My family has been part of St. Aidan Anglican Church in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for over 5 years now. I grew up Presbyterian, with a foray into the Vineyard Christian Fellowship during my college years, so I’m rather surprised to find myself here! I can’t say much about the wider Anglican Communion, or even other congregations in the Anglican Church of Canada, but here are 10 reasons I like worshipping with our specific body of believers:

The liturgy: Our church uses the Book of Alternative Services (BAS), which is similar to the Book of Common Prayer, but with more modern language. I have grown to love it, as the liturgical prayers have become familiar and soul-nourishing

The Eucharist: The Eucharist (communion) is the central part of the worship service, and it happens every week. It starts with one of several Eucharistic prayers, either spoken or sung. This blog post, about one of my favorite parts of Eucharistic prayer 3, gives a sense of the rich and transcendent language.

The gospel focus: Our church focuses on the essentials of the Christian faith. Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ working through us in the world. There is very little emphasis on secondary theological issues that, at least for me, can be more distracting than inspiring. I have never detected any arrogance or sense of superiority in relation to other Christian denominations. Of course, this may be due to general Canadian politeness!

The music: There’s a nice mix of hymns, contemporary worship choruses, Taize songs, and traditional Anglican music. Many parts of the liturgy are sung as well.

Emphasis on Scripture: Every week, we hear passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Gospels, and the Psalms. The sermon always relates to one or more of these readings.

The children’s ministry:
The preschool and elementary age children at our church use the Godly Play program for Sunday school. Every few months, St. Aidan has an intergenerational worship service, where the kids stay for the whole service, participating in music, prayer, skits, and Scripture reading. We also have an Advent Brunch every year.

Connection to history: I like being part of a church that’s been around for a very long time. Also, many of my favorite authors are/were Anglicans: C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, Madeleine L’Engle, and Alister McGrath.

Connection to the world: The Anglican Communion is worldwide. Our church has a special relationship with dioceses in Malaysia and England.

Outreach to the world: Our church has done a wide variety of outreaches, such as Operation Christmas Child, clothes drives, Vacation Bible School, outreach lunches after our church service, Habitat for Humanity projects, and ministry to immigrant high school students.

Diversity:
We have college students, singles, families, and many elderly people. Some are lifelong Anglicans, and others have come from other faith traditions, or from none at all.

As Robert Webber explains in Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals are Attracted to the Liturgical Church, this can be a spiritual path well worth exploring!

Anglican Week — Guest Post “Why I Am an Anglican”

Welcome to Dustin! Dustin’s Anglican journey began five years ago when he and his family found themselves as part of a parish in the Diocese of Niagara. They currently attend a wonderful little parish in the Diocese of Qu’Appelle. His day job is to serve as an administrator and teacher at a Christian liberal arts college and seminary.

******
Why I am an Anglican
By Dustin Resch

Why am I an Anglican? In short, I became an Anglican because I felt compelled to do so. I don’t believe that my “eternal salvation” necessarily hangs on my status as an Anglican. Nor do I think that Anglicanism is the only way of being authentically Christian. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to become an Anglican.

Where does this compulsion come from, then? I think it originated in a discovery of the fundamentally ecclesial (churchly) nature of Christian existence that is, to greater or lesser degrees, embodied in the Anglican Communion. In a sense, I am an Anglican because I am a Christian. Though again, let me say that I do not think that everyone who is a Christian must become an Anglican.

What do I mean by the ecclesial nature of Christian life? Quite simply, I am trying to express this idea that the union of the Christian with Christ, which is the very basis of Christian identity, necessarily involves a relation to a people. There can be no sense that the church is a bonus or an option or an add-on to Christian faith. The church is integral to salvation. To put it in even stronger terms, being part of the church is salvation. It is this because God has called to himself a people with whom he elects to have life-giving (saving!) fellowship. To exclude oneself from the church is to risk excluding oneself from the people whom God has brought into communion with himself.

How does the Anglican Communion embody the ecclesial nature of Christian life in such a way that I feel compelled to be a part of it? This is the most difficult element of what I have written thus far, I think. It is difficult because Anglican teaching is so notoriously diverse and does not lend itself to being used to shape air tight arguments. As I have thought about that, though, I’ve wondered if there isn’t already a faithful witness to the truth of the church being made in the very open-endedness of Anglican theology: the church is ultimately a theological mystery, the contours of which we can speak about faithfully, but whose essence we can never master or contain in doctrinal formulae. Specifically, though, here are some elements of the Anglican tradition that aid its witness to the ecclesial character of Christian existence.

First, Anglicanism attests to the history and embodied nature of the people of God. Episcopal succession, I think, illustrates this point nicely. Anglican views on episcopal authority appear to me to be quite diverse. Some in the Anglican tradition have thought of episcopalianism simply as a matter of efficiency, while others have viewed it as an essential element in the church’s claim to apostolicity. By maintaining the episcopate while also acknowledging that other Christian groups are still legitimate churches, Anglicanism attests to the mystery that the faithfulness of the church is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit, but that the Spirit’s work takes place in the embodied structures of human community.

Second, Anglicanism attests to the authority of Scripture in the Christian community as a central element in God’s self-communication. Though Anglicans are hardly known for their monolithic presentation of biblical teaching, large portions of Scripture continue to be read and preached regularly at Sunday gatherings, in Morning and Evening Prayer, and Scripture is a touchstone for doctrinal and ethical reflection. With this commitment to the authority and use of Scripture, there is also an awareness of the diversity of its interpretation and the normative conclusions that are to be drawn from it. The self-revelation of God in Scripture is authoritative for the Christian community but this revelation in Scripture cannot be finally mastered by exegetical technique or hermeneutical savvy. Anglicanism’s practice of Scripture in the community and its open-ended posture toward interpretive diversity attest to the freedom of God’s Word that promises to speak amidst the community gathered by the Spirit.

Third, Anglicanism attests that worship and piety are primarily corporate practices in which the individual finds a voice. This is illustrated in the Book of Common Prayer itself. Not only is this book an order for public services, it is also a book for personal devotion. When the Christian prays these collects and psalms, reads these designated texts, follows this way of marking time and observing the saintly lives of men and women, they do so in concert and continuity with the broader church. The diversity of Anglican liturgical and devotional practice manifest both in the ongoing adaptation of the prayer book and in the way it has been contextualized in various ways mean that Anglican worship is not static. Anglicanism attests to the mystery of the God who is worshiped in spirit and truth and who also gifts the church with the help and structures to do so in human community.

In the Anglican tradition, self-understanding and, especially, corporate life, I see embodied the ecclesial nature of Christian existence in a way that can be instructive for other sectors of the Christian church. I’ve sometimes wondered if Anglicanism’s distinct vocation is to be a microcosm of the church itself. Here is a communion that exists only by the maintenance of the Spirit’s bond of love, but that also suffers the darkness of a human community deeply marred by sin. Persisting in this situation is to persist as a Christian.

Anglican Week — Ambiguous Anglicanism: Guest Post By Dell Bornowsky

Please welcome Dell Bornowsky! Dell is priest of the Big Country Parish in Saskatchewan, Canada, and is our first guest post here at Anglican Week.

******
Ambiguous Anglicanism
Ever since I decided to be a follower of Jesus I have been particularly interested in understanding THE church, which I presume consists of (as Anglican liturgy says), “all those who have served you [the God of Jesus etc.] in every age.” It may be supposed that as an Anglican priest I could easily summarize the Anglican portion of that church and my affinity for it. However this may be nearly as presumptuous as thinking I am one who can easily define a concept of brown-hairism (the behaviour and beliefs of everyone with brown hair), because I also have (used to have more) brown hair.

I suppose I could list aspects of Anglican tradition that I most appreciate: such as opportunities to express faith with symbols as well as words. But of course words themselves function as symbols so there is some ambiguity here. Indeed it seems anyway we look at it, whether in terms of its organization(s), or its tradition(s), there is quite a bit of ambiguity in Anglicanism. There are historical reasons why ambiguity is imbedded in Anglican thinking (no time to go into that here), but like many characteristics it may be seen both as a strength and as a weakness.

The Oxford Dictionary suggests ambiguity is the “ability to be understood in more than one way” (Oxford being a traditional center of Anglicanism, by the way). Ambiguity as it relates to Anglicanism also seems to mean “the ability to be misunderstood in more than one way”. But of course that particular ability can even be attributed to God. I know fellow followers of Jesus who equate ambiguity with confusion and inconsistency and presume that following Jesus should lead them out of ambiguity rather than into it. I encourage them to consider the saying that “a god small enough for our minds (small enough to be understand in only one way), is not big enough to be the God of everything else”.

As a strength I see the Anglican use of symbols (and the resulting ambiguity) as tools in the mission of proclaiming the truth of Jesus’ gospel to post-moderns. Here again, true to its ambiguous form, some Anglicans think more as Moderns and some as Post-moderns, and all this in a tradition that honours dozens of Pre-modern thinkers who were nonetheless also followers of Jesus. As a weakness, to be ambiguous means to be obscure, indistinct, indeterminate, and unreliable. There is danger in our attempt as Anglicans to be everything to everyone: that we thereby become nothing to anyone. Nevertheless, somewhere between nothing and everything, here we are!

Was The Reformation a Success?

“Was the Reformation a success?” requires a carefully nuanced answer. While the Protestant Reformation unquestionably transformed Western Christendom, the fuller story of the Reformation manifests many problems, failures, frustrations and difficulties. It proved to be a significant but flawed product, often victor over opposition but also victim of its own weaknesses. In this regard, the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century was much like any other movement or century in recorded history. Without doubt, what transpired in the sixteenth century was momentous. The claim, though, that it was a success — however vigorously asserted and desperately held by subsequent Protestants — is hard to sustain, if the whole story of the Reformation is kept in mind.

Jim Payton, Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings, pg. 233.