Evangelical Anglicans warn they might walk away if CofE departs from ‘apostolic truth’ | Christian News on Christian Today

Canterbury Cathedral

“Our desire is for the Church’s teaching and practice to offer a vision of human flourishing which is faithful to Scripture.”

Source: Evangelical Anglicans warn they might walk away if CofE departs from ‘apostolic truth’ | Christian News on Christian Today

“In a document entitled Gospel, Church & Marriage: Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life released to its supporters and organisational representatives, CEEC says: ‘As we face many changes in British society and forceful challenges within the Church of England on matters of human sexuality and marriage, we believe it is important not simply to focus on these contentious areas of disagreement but to set them within a wider and deeper theological vision.

“‘Our desire is for the Church’s teaching and practice to offer a vision of human flourishing which is faithful to Scripture.’

“While the document does not explicitly mention homosexuality or same-sex marriage, its context is the continuing turmoil in the CofE about how far it should go in accommodating changing social mores. The ongoing controversy has effectively already split the Anglican Communion and the CofE’s unity is under pressure.

“The document stresses the ‘gift of singleness’ and the House of Bishops’ affirmation that sexual relations are ‘properly conducted only within heterosexual marriage’.

“This teaching is not an ‘optional extra’ or ‘adiaphora’ but is ‘apostolic and essential to the gospel’s transforming purpose’, it says.”

The determination by many or most “mainstream” Christian churches in America – and indeed, the West – to be “open” and “welcoming” to persons who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and (increasingly) transgender, often with a few more categories added on, as well as an overall weakening of traditional sexual mores, seems grounded for the most part (a few hardcore Leftists aside) in compassion, the desire not to exclude anyone from communion with Christ, or the benefits of full inclusion in the Christian faith.

“Radical love,” even “Christ-like love,” seems to be the catch-phrase. And this is admirable – to a point. There are a couple of things that are missed in this, however. Continue reading “Evangelical Anglicans warn they might walk away if CofE departs from ‘apostolic truth’ | Christian News on Christian Today”

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Commemoration of Charles I of England, King and Martyr (1649)

Sanctus Carolus Defensor Fidei

Charles I of England and Scotland, King and Martyr: 30 January 1649

(from today’s entry in the late James Kiefer’s excellent series of hagiographies)

At the end, when Charles was Cromwell’s prisoner, he was required to assent to a law abolishing bishops in the Church of England. He had previously given his consent to such an abolition in Scotland, where the Puritans were in the majority, but here he dug in his heels and declared that Bishops were part of the Church as God had established it, and that he could not in conscience assent to Cromwell’s demand. His refusal sealed his doom, and it is for this that he is accounted a martyr, since he could have saved his life by giving in on this question. He was brought to trial before Parliament, found guilty of treason, and beheaded 30 January 1649. On the scaffold, he said (I quote from memory and may not have the exact words):

“No man in England is a better friend to liberty than myself, But I must tell you plainly that the liberty of subjects consists not in having a hand in the government, but in having that government, and those laws, whereby their lives and their goods may be most their own.”

That is to say, one may reasonably ask of a government that it establish justice in the land; so that judges do not take bribes, so that innocent men are not convicted of crimes, while the guilty are convicted and punished, so that honest men need fear neither robbers nor the sheriff. One may further ask that taxes be not excessive, and that punishments be not disproportionate to the crime. Charles would have said,

“Do not ask whether the laws were made by men whom you elected. Ask whether they are reasonable and good laws, upholding justice and the public weal.”

He would have invited comparison of his record in this respect with that of the Long Parliament (which sat for twenty years without an election, and whose members came to think of themselves as rulers for life, accountable to no one) and Cromwell (who eventually dissolved Parliament and ruled as a military dictator, under whose rule the ordinary Englishman had far less liberty than under Charles).

In his struggle with his opponents, Charles considered himself to be contending for two things:

(1) the good of the realm and the liberty and well-being of the people, which he believed would be better served by the monarch ruling according to ancient precedent, maintaining the traditional rights of the people as enshrined in the common law, than by a Parliament that ended up denying that it was either bound by the law or accountable to the people; and

(2) the Church of England, preaching the doctrine of the undivided Church of the first ten centuries, administering sacraments regarded not as mere psychological aids to devotion but as vehicles of the presence and activity of God in his Church, governed by bishops who had been consecrated by bishops who had been consecrated by bishops… back certainly to the second century, and, as many have believed, back to the Twelve Apostles and to the command of Christ himself.

In his Declaration at Newport, in the last year of his life, he said:

“I conceive that Episcopal government is most consonant to the Word of God, and of an apostolical institution, as it appears by the Scripture, to have been practised by the Apostles themselves, and by them committed and derived to particular persons as their substitutes or successors therein and hath ever since to these last times been exercised by Bishops in all the Churches of Christ, and therefore I cannot in conscience consent to abolish the said government.”

In a day when religious toleration was not widespread, King Charles I was noteworthy for his reluctance to engage in religious persecution of any kind, whether against Romanists or Anabaptists.

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/92.html

King Charles I – Anglican Martyr | Anglican History Blog

charleyboy

30 January: Commemoration of Charles I of England, King and Martyr

Source: King Charles I Anglican Martyr | Anglican History Blog

“A devotional cult was established in Charles’ name and he is considered an Anglican martyr, especially by Anglo-Catholics. It is said that if Charles had been willing to abandon the Church and give up the episcopacy he might have saved his throne and his life. Charles would not give to either demand, and as Gladstone said, ‘it was for the Church that Charles shed his blood on the scaffold.’

“Charles was removed as a saint from the calendar in 1859 but his feast day continues to be observed in the Church of England. The Society of King Charles the Martyr continues devotional activities in his memory…

“Charles is commemorated in churches across England and his last word of ‘REMEMBER’ can be found on statues. A hymn written to St. Charles contains this verse:

“For England’s Church, for England’s realm (Once thine in earthly sway), Lest storms our Ark should overwhelm, Saint Charles of England pray!”

What was the Oxford Movement? – Pusey House

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“Catholicism is not confined to the Roman communion, nor Orthodoxy to the eastern churches.”

Source: What was the Oxford Movement? – Pusey House

“The term ‘Oxford Movement’ is often used to describe the whole of what might be called the Catholic revival in the Church of England. More properly it refers to the activities and ideas of an initially small group of people in the University of Oxford who argued against the increasing secularisation of the Church of England, and sought to recall it to its heritage of apostolic order, and to the catholic doctrines of the early church fathers… The rediscovered emphases on apostolic succession and the Catholicity of the church, on priesthood, on sacrament and sacrifice, on prayer, holiness and the beauty of worship, are the Tractarians’ gifts to their successors.”

Though some of them (and definitely some of their successors) became what I would consider excessively ultramontane (Romanist) toward the end of the era, I am largely in agreement with the major foci and accomplishments of the Oxford Movement – particularly the “rediscovered emphases on apostolic succession and the Catholicity of the church, on priesthood, on sacrament and sacrifice, on prayer, holiness and the beauty of worship” mentioned in this post.

And conversely, much though I love the simplicity and clarity of classical Prayer Book worship – and I do – it can sometimes be a bit too excessively austere, for my tastes, with too few seasonal variations: a few more antiphons and Office hymns would do it no harm, in my opinion! Nor would a few more words and actions that underscore the holiness of what we are doing, particularly in the Eucharist (Holy Communion). But, nothing is perfect! 🙂

In any case, the pastoral imperative underlying the Oxford reformers’ efforts cannot be underestimated. They were doing what they were doing, not for the sake of “playing church,” but to strengthen themselves and their parishioners in times of great need. That in the process, they managed to restore some of the “baby” which had been thrown out with some admittedly dirty “bathwater” during the Reformation was, in my opinion, an added bonus.

But perhaps their most lasting and significant legacy is that assertion which I posted as the opening caption above: that “Catholicism is not confined to the Roman communion, nor Orthodoxy to the eastern churches.” Indeed not!

Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials • ChurchLeaders.com

 

In the past we’ve touched on the delicate balance that churches must maintain while appealing to millennials without pandering or changing theology. But what if we’re focusing our efforts in the wrong places?

What if the loud music and fog machines are actually clouding the Holy Spirit and preventing people from connecting with God? What if, instead of adapting to a modernized culture with our church services, we kicked it old school?

Source: Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials • ChurchLeaders.com

“Well, that’s exactly what the Church of England is doing. Despite growing secularism in the country, the church has seen attendance grow over the past several years with the help of a centuries-old liturgical tradition: Evensong. Choral Evensong is an evening prayer service that is delivered mostly through song, offering a restful, reflective time to worship God and pause from the busy-ness of life. The choir performs live and is often highly skilled and well-trained…

“Neil McCleery, assistant chaplain at one of Oxford’s oldest chapels, recently said it is rare to see attendance below 150 at a weekend evensong, contradicting the idea that church is facing inevitable decline. Many clergy like McCleery see this as an opportunity to draw more people into a relationship with the church.

“‘We get a lot of people who perhaps come to faith or return to faith by being drawn into that worship experience,’ he said. ‘I do wonder if it might be related to the trend for mindfulness in this era where we are constantly bombarded from the Internet, from media, from mobile, which are hard to get away from.

“The varied musical forms and passages of spoken liturgy mixed with moments of contemplative silence lends balance and completeness to the form of the service, according to ChoralEvensong.org. The high percentage of music is what distinguishes it from other church services for most people and appeals to locals and tourists alike.”

Well, who’d-a thunk it…?

“So what can we learn from this unforeseen surge in attendance in the otherwise post-Christian culture of the U.K.? With millennials leaving the church and a severe decline in denominational membership in America, perhaps returning to a disciplined, reverent worship service would have newcomers lining up to get inside the doors of our churches rather than exiting through them en masse.”

I have said on a number of occasions and in a number of ways – both on and off this forum – that a culture, or a Church, is like a tree: separated from its roots, it is more likely to wither than to experience life and growth. Restoring that connection – grafting it back onto the living “stump” with its extensive root system – may well restore that life and growth.

And while our goal, as Christians, should always be to worship God, first and foremost, and then seek to edify the faithful – not necessarily to “attract” any particular demographic group – I am living proof that faithfully-rendered Anglican liturgy can be a powerful tool of evangelism, including and perhaps even especially to young people seeking a firm place to stand.

I myself can trace my entry into the Anglican tradition (from Methodism, which granted is not so far afield as some) to the experience of the liturgy – in my case, the Daily Office of Morning Prayer – back in 1989, at the age of 24.

So I do not find this the least bit surprising!

Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite

Continuing my sequence from Sounding the Seasons, the collection of my sonnets for the church year, published by Canterbury Press, the 29th September brings us the feast of St. Michael and All Angels which is known as Michaelmas in England, and this first autumn term in many schools and universities is still called the Michaelmas term.

Source: Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite

Today, September 29th, being Michaelmas – the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels – in the Western Christian calendar, here is a Michaelmas sonnet by the inestimable Malcolm Guite. Includes both the written sonnet, and a recitation of it by Malcolm, a priest in the Church of England, and a gifted poet. With commentary, including this excellent short sketch of Michael (whose name means “Who is like God?”) himself:

“The Archangel Michael is traditionally thought of as the Captain of the Heavenly Host, and, following an image from the book of Revelation, is often shown standing on a dragon, an image of Satan subdued and bound by the strength of Heaven. He is also shown with a drawn sword, or a spear and a pair of scales or balances, for he represents, truth, discernment, the light and energy of intellect, to cut through tangles and confusion, to set us free to discern and choose.”

John Mason Neale, Presbyter and Hymnodist, 1866 | For All the Saints

Neale was both a scholar and a creative poet whose skills in composing original verse and in translating Latin and Greek hymns into fluid and effective English verse were devoted to the Church. Composer of many original hymns and translations, he greatly enriched English hymnody.

Source: John Mason Neale, Presbyter and Hymnodist, 1866 | For All the Saints

“His Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862) included a number of Easter hymns, and their inclusion in a number of English hymnals introduced an important Eastern emphasis on the Resurrection into Anglican worship. Despite his poor health he was a prolific writer and compiler as well, and his output included such works on hymnody as Medieval Hymns and Sequences and [the aforementioned] Hymns of the Eastern Church as well as Liturgiology and Church History and a four volume commentary on the Psalms.

“He also founded, with longtime Cambridge friend and colleague Benjamin Webb, the Cambridge-Camden Society, later known as the Ecclesiological Society, the arm of the Oxford Movement devoted to recovering (sometimes going behind historic precedent) Catholic practice in Anglican church architecture, vestments, and liturgical acts.

“Gentleness combined with firmness, good humor, modesty, patience, devotion, and ‘an unbounded charity’ describe Neale’s character. Though he never received preferment in England, his contributions were recognized in the wide inclusion of his hymns in Anglican and other hymnals and in such actions as the presentation to him by the Metropolitan of Moscow of a rare copy of the Old Believers’ liturgy. He died on the Feast of the Transfiguration in 1866, having left a lasting mark on worship in the English-speaking world.

“Most hymnals since the late nineteenth century have included many of Neale’s compositions and translations. ‘Come, ye faithful, raise the strain,’ ‘Creator of the stars of night,’ ‘All glory, laud, and honor,’ ‘Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,’ ‘Jerusalem the golden,’ and ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ are just a few of the hymns that will long remain in the corpus of English hymnody.”