Archive for the ‘Phillip Cary’ Tag

Schism and Reconciliation   1 comment

Above:  Wittenberg in 1540

Image in the Public Domain

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The Feast of the Reformation, celebrated first in the Brunswick church order (1528), composed by Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), died out in the 1500s.  Initially the dates of the commemoration varied according to various church orders, and not all Lutherans observed the festival.  Original dates included November 10 (the eve of Martin Luther‘s birthday), February 18 (the anniversary of Luther’s death), and the Sunday after June 25, the date of the delivery of the Augsburg Confession.  In 1667, after the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Elector of Saxony John George II ordered the revival of the commemoration, with the date of October 31.  Over time the commemoration spread, and commemorations frequently occurred on the Sunday closest to that date.

The feast used to function primarily as an occasion to express gratitude that one was not Roman Catholic.  However, since 1980, the 450th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement) and the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau have favored observing the feast as a time of reconciliation and of acknowledging the necessity of the Reformation while not celebrating the schism.

This perspective is consistent with the position of Professor Phillip Cary in his Great Courses series of The History of Christian Theology (2008), in which he argues that Protestantism and Roman Catholicism need each other.

I, as an Episcopalian, stand within the Middle Way–Anglicanism.  I am convinced, in fact, that I am on this planet for, among other reasons, to be an Episcopalian; the affiliation fits me naturally.  I even hang an Episcopal Church flag in my home.  I, as an Episcopalian, am neither quite Protestant nor Roman Catholic; I borrow with reckless abandon from both sides–especially from Lutheranism in recent years.  I affirm Single Predestination (Anglican and Lutheran theology), Transubstantiation, a 73-book canon of scripture, and the Assumption of Mary (Roman Catholic theology), and reject both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin Birth of Jesus.  My ever-shifting variety of Anglicanism is sui generis.

The scandal of schism, extant prior to 1517, but exasperated by the Protestant and English Reformations, grieves me.  Most of the differences among denominations similar to each other are minor, so overcoming denominational inertia with mutual forbearance would increase the rate of ecclesiastical unity.  Meanwhile, I, from my perch in The Episcopal Church, ponder whether organic union with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is feasible and wise.  It is a question worth exploring.  At least we are natural ecumenical partners.  We already have joint congregations, after all.  If there will be organic union, it will require mutual giving and taking on many issues, but we agree on most matters already.

Time will tell.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people.

Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial,

defend them against all enemies of the gospel,

and bestow on the church your saving peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 46

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 58

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Revelation 14:6-7

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36 or Matthew 11:12-19

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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Adapted from this post:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/devotion-for-the-feast-of-the-reformation-october-31/

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Two Encounters   Leave a comment

snapshot_20161031_1

I dressed up as a priest for Halloween this year.

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Last year, on the quadrangle of the Oconee Campus of the University of North Georgia, I noticed the presence of individuals from an Evangelical campus ministry.  They were from elsewhere, for they were unfamiliar with the campus.  One young man from the organization found me and asked me a seemingly simple question:

Do you believe in God?

I asked him what he meant by that.  He obviously did not expect that answer, so I elaborated.  I explained that, if he meant,

Do you affirm the existence of God?,

the answer is always “yes.”  However, I continued, in the historic creeds of the Church, belief is really trust.  Therefore, if the question is

Do you trust in God?,

the answer is “usually.”  He approved of that answer.  I perceived that he had not thought of that distinction with relation to the question he had asked me.  Then he handed me a slip of paper with some basic Christian theological questions on it.  My answers met with his approval, and we parted company on pleasant terms.  The encounter did me no harm and might have given him something edifying to contemplate.

If the people who have knocked on my front door in hopes of converting me were like that young man, I would not have objected to speaking to them.  Usually I just ignore the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons until they give up and leave.  I have, on occasion, argued with them when they have caught me in a bad mood.  I have even slammed my door in their faces when I have been in a really bad mood.

Last night, however, I was merely being cautious.  Shortly after 8:00 I heard knocking on my front door.  I looked through the peep-hole and saw two men standing outside.  I ignored them until one of them announced that they were from the Churches of Christ.  Then I opened the door and commenced to have a pointless conversation which never ceased to be polite.  We were all civilized men, after all.  The conversation ended with one of the men (the only one who did much speaking) informing me that he regretted that I refused to accept the true religion and would therefore go to Hell.  He was especially unimpressed with my religious affiliation and my affinity for Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.  I should have just ignored these men, for the conversation accomplished nothing productive.

Professor Phillip Cary, in his Great Courses series The History of Christian Theology (2008), speaks of religious traditions, the members of which do not think of them as human traditions.  He does this with a particular reference to the Reformed churches.  The two men with whom I conversed last night were like that, only from the Stone-Campbell tradition.  Tradition is simply that which people pass down from generation to generation; there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful about that.  The question of being wrong or sinful pertains to the content of any given tradition.  I know that I, as a religious person, keep certain human traditions; I cannot be religious and do otherwise.  I know that I as a Christian, keep certain human traditions; I cannot do be one and do otherwise.  I know the human traditions that I, as an Episcopalian, keep.  I also know that all of them are not identical to the traditions that my fellow Christians of different backgrounds keep.  So be it.

I am also much less likely than my recent visitors to say that someone will go to Hell.  That is God’s call, not mine; this is as matters should be.  I also expect that my visitors and I will go to Heaven.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWIN HATCH, ANGLICAN PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEO THE GREAT, BISHOP OF ROME

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Posted November 10, 2016 by neatnik2009 in Episcopal Church

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A Great Mutuality of Blessing   1 comment

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003689379/)

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

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The Collect:

O God, our leader and guide, in the waters of baptism

you bring us to new birth to live as your children.

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world through

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Micah 7:18-20 (9th Day)

Isaiah 51:4-8 (10th Day)

Psalm 121 (Both Days)

Romans 3:21-31 (9th Day)

Luke 7:1-10 (10th Day)

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Some Related Posts:

Micah 7:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/sixteenth-day-of-lent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/week-of-proper-11-tuesday-year-2/

Isaiah 51:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-december-26-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/devotion-for-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-first-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/proper-16-year-a/

Romans 3:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/devotion-for-january-11-and-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/proper-4-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/week-of-proper-23-thursday-year-1/

Luke 7:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/proper-4-year-c/

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I lift up my eyes to the hills;

from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

–Psalm 121:1-2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Recently I finished watching Professor Phillip Cary’s Teaching Company DVD series, Luther:  Gospel, Law, and Reformation (2004).  He is a well-informed scholar who has no qualms about stating his opinions plainly, therefore not feigning a disinterested objectivity.  His stance is one of academic hospitality while standing his ground.  Thus one learns, for example, how John Calvin’s theology differed from that of Martin Luther and where Cary comes down on those issues.  That is fair.

A point Cary made in one lecture applies to the readings for these two days.  Everyone, he said, receives his or her blessing from someone else.  God blesses the Jews, the Chosen People.  They benefit, yes, but so do Gentiles, through whom other blessings flow to Jews.  There is a great mutuality of blessing.  This principle remains true in other, smaller settings–communities, families, congregations, et cetera.  I can think of examples of it in my life.  And perhaps you, O reader, can do likewise.

Blessings–such as forgiveness of sin  via God–especially Jesus–are wonderful.  They are for the benefit of the forgiven, of course, but they also serve a greater purpose.  With great blessings come great responsibilities to function as conduits of grace for others.  The reality of God does nothing to detract from the human need for physical means of grace, such as other people and the sacraments.  Blessing others can range from a simple task to a more involved one and prove perilous to oneself.  Sometimes the latter is what love requires of one.  Yet whatever grace demands of us, may we respond affirmatively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/devotion-for-the-ninth-and-tenth-days-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted January 14, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 51, Luke 7, Micah 7, Psalm 121, Romans 3

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We Are All Heretics (And Many of Us Are Also Orthodox)   1 comment

Episcopal

Above:  Part of the Nicene Creed, According to The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Below:  Part of the Nicene Creed, According to The Orthodox Study Bible (2008)

Eastern Orthodox

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Great indeed, we confess is the mystery of our religion:

He was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated in the Spirit,

seen by angels,

preached among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory.

–1 Timothy 3:16, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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Recently I completed the viewing of The Teaching Company’s 2008 thirty-six-part course, The History of Christian Theology.  The professor, Dr. Phillip Cary, of Eastern University, did an excellent job.  He was very well-informed.  He also expressed his opinions, labeling them as such.  I noticed that I disagreed with some of his subjective points.  That, however, did (and does) not bother me, for I never agree with anyone on everything;  I think too much to do that.

The bottom line regarding that course is that I look forward to watching it again and picking up details I missed the first time.  Cary is a skilled academic and an engaging speaker, one whom I like to watch.  I am, in fact, working my way through his 2004 course, Luther:  Gospel, Law, and Reformation.  Cary, a scholar of St. Augustine of Hippo, possesses an impressive grasp of comparative Christian theology.

I have spent time pondering the history of Christian theology regarding a series of disputed points and widely agreed-upon ones.  Hence topics ranging from imputed grace to baptismal regeneration to filoque (“…and the Son”) to details of Incarnational theology have been dancing vigorously upon my neurons.  (Please, O reader, do not tell the Free Lutherans that theological matters have been dancing inside my head; they would disapprove of the metaphor.)  I tell you, O reader, such material has been doing the Charleston and the Jitterbug upstairs.  (I am devout and punchy simultaneously.)

My standard of theological orthodoxy is God.  By that standard all of us are, to some extent, heretics.  I stand with the Eastern Orthodox on various points, including the insistence that we ought not to try to explain too much about certain points, such as some aspects of the Atonement.  Attempting to explain too much opens the door to heresy (as in trying to make sense of every detail of the Trinity) and minimizes the beauty of divine mystery.

Yet there is heresy and there is heresy.  Whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father or from the Father and the Son, for example, is a minor point.  One of those positions is erroneous.  I do not know or care which is correct.  My brain, however, is accustomed to prompting my mouth to say

and the Son

reflexively.  Crucial, however, are other points, such as affirming the Incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth.  A great and magnificent mystery surrounds that theological reality.  I would not have it any other way.

Regardless of how orthodox we are relative to God, we are all somewhat heretical.  That is unavoidable.  Yet, as Martin Luther understood well, we stand on the sure promises of Christ, which we have no right to disbelieve and in which we must trust faithfully if they are to benefit us.  Those promises, I argue, deal with matters weightier than filoque.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 12, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSAPHAT KUNTSEVYCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF POLOTSK, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SIMEON, ANGLICAN PRIEST

Grace Demanding a Decision   1 comment

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Above:  A Roman Oil Lamp

Image Source = Rama

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The Collect:

Lord God, with endless mercy you receive

the prayers of all who call upon you.

By your Spirit show us the things we ought to do,

and give us the grace and power to do them,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 22:3-20 (Monday)

2 Kings 23:1-8, 21-25 (Tuesday)

Psalm 119:105-112 (both days)

Romans 11:2-10 (Monday)

2 Corinthians 4:1-12 (Tuesday)

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Your word is a lantern to my feet

and a light to my path.

I have sworn and determined

to keep your righteous judgments.

I am deeply troubled; preserve my life,

O LORD, according to your word.

Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips,

and teach me your judgments.

My life is always in my hand,

yet I do not forget your law.

The wicked have set a trap for me,

but I have not strayed from your commandments.

Your decrees are my inheritance forever;

truly, they are the joy of my heart.

I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes,

forever and to the end.

–Psalm 119:105-112, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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One of the recurring biblical themes is the coexistence of divine mercy and judgment.  It is evident in 2 Kings, where King Josiah deferred yet did not cancel out via national holiness (however fleeting) the consequences of successive generations of national depravity and disregard for holiness.  The Hollywood tacked-on happy ending, in the style of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) after the studio took the film away from Orson Welles, would have been for forgiveness to wipe away everything.  Yet judgment came–just later than scheduled previously.

I would like to be a Universalist–a Christian Universalist, to be precise.  Yet that would be a false choice.  No matter how much grace exists in Jesus, the reality of the Incarnation does demand a response to the question,

Who do we say Jesus is?

(Thanks to Professor Phillip Cary, in his Teaching Company course on the History of Christian Theology for making the point that the Synoptic Gospels pose that question to audiences.)  And, as C. H. Dodd, while explaining Realized Eschatology in The Founder of Christianity, wrote of Jesus in that book:

In his words and actions he made men aware of [the kingdom of God] and challenged them to respond.  It was “good news” in the sense that it meant opportunity for a new start and an unprecedented enrichment of experience.  But when a person (or society) has been presented with such a challenge and declines it, he is not just where he was before.  His position is the worse for the encounter….The coming of the kingdom meant the open opportunity of enhancement of life; it also meant the heightening of moral responsibility.

–1970 Macmillan paperback edition, page 58

So, regardless of the number of challenges and severity thereof we might face due to our fidelity to God, may we find encouragement to continue to follow Christ, our Lord and Savior, who suffered to the point of death and overcame that obstacle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF YORK, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF VIDA DUTTON SCUDDER, WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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