An Evangelical Anglican bishop reflects on the recent synod

This is the Caravita parish where I attended Mass, then later in the day an ecumenical evensong with some Anglican archbishops later that day when  I was in Rome last spring

This is the Caravita parish where I attended Mass, then later in the day an ecumenical evensong with some Anglican archbishops later that day when I was in Rome last spring

This is most interesting!  The Bishop of Durham writes:

On the middle Sunday I chose to worship at the English language ‘Caravita’ Catholic service. Someone described it to me as ‘the best Anglican worship in Rome’. It was ecumenical as members of the Catholic-Methodist dialogue were also present and we sang two Wesley hymns (from the Catholic hymn book). What was most notable though was the sermon. It was one of the clearest and best straight Bible expositions I have heard in quite a while, and it lasted 25 minutes. My Reformed Presbyterian fellow fraternal delegate was bemoaning later that day that the sermon at the Presbyterian Church had been ‘all stories and no Bible’. Indeed the amount of use of the Bible, including occasional detailed debate on the Greek text, was a feature of the Synod itself. Yes, reference to the Magisterium was strong, but so too was the desire to get people reading their Bibles and continually remembering that the Scriptures are our foundation.

During the Synod and in times of worship I remain perturbed by the Marian doctrine and how it is expressed. I struggle with the apparent unwillingness to consider changing anything withinHumanae Vitae, and indeed some other parts of the magisterium. I find the insistence on the sacramental nature of marriage which leads to indissolubility and the strange handling then of annulment baffling and unconvincing. But I rejoice in the commitment to trying to help ensure marriages work and stick rather than the all-too-easy acceptance of divorce and remarriage which I fear we have slid into ourselves. I find the idea of the family home being a ‘domestic church’ rich in possibility and one that we as Anglican evangelicals (as well as Protestants of all shades) would do well to reflect on and develop further. Indeed I think we are actually in a stronger position to look to the Holy Family as a model than are our Roman friends. I say this because we believe Mary and Joseph had a full sex life which produced other children. The idea of perpetual virgin risks promoting an unhealthy view of God’s good gift of sexual intercourse within marriage.

-snip-

Which leads me finally to Pope Francis. He is truly a remarkable man. He listened so intently and summarised not just what was said but how it was said and the attitudes from which it was said in a masterly way. He is unfussy and unhurried. He is warm and prayerful. He is passionate for the poor and needy. He is insistent on going to the margins and accompanying people in need. He is clear that the good news is all about Jesus Christ and he wants people to know God’s love for them found in Jesus Christ the Lord.

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7 Responses to An Evangelical Anglican bishop reflects on the recent synod

  1. Richard Grand says:

    It would be better if the whole comment was available. Perhaps a link to the original might be provided when the text has been edited. Here it is (from another Blog). Thanks for including this on yours.
    http://kiwianglo.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/evangelical-anglican-reflections-from-rome/

  2. William Tighe says:

    “I say this because we believe Mary and Joseph had a full sex life which produced other children. The idea of perpetual virgin risks promoting an unhealthy view of God’s good gift of sexual intercourse within marriage.”

    A view which all the magisterial Protestant Reformers would have found abhorrent and detestable. And how is it compatible with either the “Vincentian Canon” which many Anglicans were once wont to brandish against what they regarded as “popish innovations” or with this 1571 Canon of the Church of England:

    https://history.hanover.edu/texts/ENGref/er82.html

    ” … Preachers shall behave themselves modestly and soberly in every department of their life. But especially shall they see to it that they teach nothing in the way of a sermon, which they would have religiously held and believed by the people, save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old or New Testament, and what the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected from this selfsame doctrine …”

    What “Catholic fathers and ancient bishops” ever “collected” what people like this bishop have concocted?

  3. John Walter S. says:

    Nothing from this protestant is worth taking into account.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      John,

      Nothing from this protestant is worth taking into account.

      Really?

      Is your objective here to be an accomplice in the sin of schism by acting in a manner that sustains it, or to do what we can to bring us closer to reconciliation and healing of schism?

      The magisterium has said quite clearly that we must enter into sincere dialog with those who are in schism, which entails listening to them and learning what we can from their perspectives and their circumstances.

      Note that listening and learning do NOT entail compromise of the Truth.

      Norm.

      • John Walter S. says:

        False ecumenism is a compromise of the Truth, and if a dialog’s objective isn’t to tell that protestant is wrong, because you can’t be both Catholic and Protestant and be right, then there’s something wrong with you and your interpretation/understanding of magisterium.

        If you want to completely waste your time, try talking about the faith with the committed protestant. If you want to be frustrated beyond all telling, try talking about the faith with the committed protestant. Let’s remember one important fact: Protestantism is a heresy. That doesn’t mean every individual protestant is a heretic, but the system of belief they subscribe to is a heretical system deficient in faith, knowledge, and logic. Protestantism is founded on the unintellectual; it is simply faith without reason.

        “Progressives” within the Church for decades have been pushing a distorted notion of ecumenism. For them, ecumenism is some process by which we arrive at some compromised version of Christianity, and it’s always a call to “dialogue” that these people mask their intentions. No thanks. Even if the magisterium calls for dialogue, the place these dialogues end up is compromise to avoid any accusations of wrong-doing, because we have to respect every religions, because all religions are equal somehow, and so the mission of the Church, to baptize all nations, is hampered by sycophantic approach fostered by “dialogue” with other religions. It’s a mere avenue for oikophobic clergy and theologians to justify changes in the Church. Being more open-minded, being more welcoming, we’re not allowed to convert people now, according to a priest I’ve heard last Sunday. The implication is, St. Paul was wrong to preach to the Gentiles, and so was St. Thomas in India, along with all those Catholics who worked to convert people to the Church for the last 2,000 years.

        The true goal of real ecumenism is to evangelize protestants, among other peoples, and show them the intellectual and spiritual deficiencies they labor under. With hope and prayer of seeing their errors, they turn to the one, true Faith established by Jesus Christ. That’s it. Anything else is a waste of time. No doubt those who foster false ecumenism will object to this, and cry “how judgmental!” or “how uncharitable!” but truth is truth, and if you dilute the truth, then it is more uncharitable to prevent people from the fullness of truth. Protestantism is an error, and those trapped in it deserved being reached out to, not coddled or defended in their error. It’s a heresy the celebrates ignorance. It glorifies the unintellectual, and causes separation and pain in the Body of Christ as does every heresy.

        If the Bishop of Durham is right, and all we Catholics are wrong, then why can’t Anglicans agree amongst themselves? Isn’t that the reason why the Ordinariates were established, and you have your Anglican Alphabet Soup? How many Anglicans even believe in God and not just “doing good”? Now, the alternative is to say it’s all good, and no wonder the Bishop of Durham is still Anglican, it seems easier to accommodate to every point of view and still expect everyone to get to Heaven. But it doesn’t sound like what Jesus Christ Himself taught. The only thing I can do is to pray for the Bishop of Durham, but in the system the Bishop of Durham subscribes to, and those in the Catholic Church who agrees with him, it’ll be a pointless act.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        John,

        You wrote: False ecumenism is a compromise of the Truth, and if a dialog’s objective isn’t to tell that protestant is wrong, because you can’t be both Catholic and Protestant and be right, then there’s something wrong with you and your interpretation/understanding of magisterium.

        You are correct about false ecumenism.

        Authentic ecumenism is a walk together to discover the truth more deeply and precisely in a spirit of fraternal charity. This will lead to an acknowledgement of deficiency of understanding, or even of error where it exists.

        That said, the manner of approach is critical. If you come into dialog with an attitude of arrogant superiority and tell a Protestant bluntly that (s)he is wrong, that will be the end of the discussion, the schism will endure, and you will be culpable. Here, I refer you to No. 11 of the decree Unitatis redintegratio on ecumenism promulgated by the Second Vatican Council:

        11. The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.

        At the same time, the Catholic faith must be explained more profoundly and precisely, in such a way and in such terms as our separated brethren can also really understand.

        Moreover, in ecumenical dialogue, Catholic theologians standing fast by the teaching of the Church and investigating the divine mysteries with the separated brethren must proceed with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility. When comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a “hierarchy” of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith. Thus the way will be opened by which through fraternal rivalry all will be stirred to a deeper understanding and a clearer presentation of the unfathomable riches of Christ.

        And we also should have the humility to acknowledge that our separated brethren might have uncovered some nuance in revelation that heretofore has escaped our notice, and by which our own understanding might be enriched.

        You wrote: If you want to completely waste your time, try talking about the faith with the committed protestant. If you want to be frustrated beyond all telling, try talking about the faith with the committed protestant.

        I have been a party to some pretty intense theological discussions with many Protestant Christians. The only group with whom I have encountered that sort of frustration were hard-core Fundamentalists — but I find similar frustration with both extreme liberals and hard-core Traditionalists who purport to uphold the true Catholic faith, even when they disagree completely with the pope.

        You wrote: Let’s remember one important fact: Protestantism is a heresy. That doesn’t mean every individual protestant is a heretic, but the system of belief they subscribe to is a heretical system deficient in faith, knowledge, and logic.

        There’s no doubt that most Protestant denominations omit certain aspects of Christian theology, but what they do teach is substantially correct and thus does not qualify as heresy. I rather find heresy to be more rampant among both Traditionalists and certain groups of extreme progressives (Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, etc.) who purport to be Catholic.

        You continued: Protestantism is founded on the unintellectual; it is simply faith without reason.

        Actually, this is more true of Traditionalism. Most Protestants study the scriptures and present their faith in a very intellectual way.

        You wrote: “Progressives” within the Church for decades have been pushing a distorted notion of ecumenism. For them, ecumenism is some process by which we arrive at some compromised version of Christianity, and it’s always a call to “dialogue” that these people mask their intentions. No thanks. Even if the magisterium calls for dialogue, the place these dialogues end up is compromise to avoid any accusations of wrong-doing, because we have to respect every religions, because all religions are equal somehow, and so the mission of the Church, to baptize all nations, is hampered by sycophantic approach fostered by “dialogue” with other religions. It’s a mere avenue for oikophobic clergy and theologians to justify changes in the Church. Being more open-minded, being more welcoming, we’re not allowed to convert people now, according to a priest I’ve heard last Sunday. The implication is, St. Paul was wrong to preach to the Gentiles, and so was St. Thomas in India, along with all those Catholics who worked to convert people to the Church for the last 2,000 years.

        This paragraph reflects very serious confusion.

        >> First, there can be no compromise of truth in authentic dialog, as explained in the preceding quotation from Unitatis redintegratio.

        >> Second, other Christian denominations do not adhere to another religion; they adhere to Christian faith manifest in the Nicene Creed (or, equivalently, the Apostle’s Creed). Even Protestant denominations that officially deny having a formal creed (Baptists, for example) nevertheless teach the tenets thereof. In this regard, there is a fundamental difference between ecumenical dialog (with other Christians) and interreligious dialog (with those who adhere to non-Christian religions).

        >> Third, the objectives of interreligious dialog and ecumenical dialog are fundamentally different. Ecumenical dialog is about healing schisms among believers, and fundamentally has nothing whatsoever to do with evangelism because the other parties thereto are already baptized believers. Interreligious dialog, by contrast, is ultimately about evangelism, though it may have more modest intermediate goals of building relationships of trust that stop people from using religion as a pretext for violence and that permit some level of collaboration (for example, for ministers of each faith to visit their sick in hospitals or other institutions operated by the other).

        These are two completely different animals.

        You asked: How many Anglicans even believe in God and not just “doing good”?

        Ah, before you go casting stones at another, how many Catholics believe in God and not just “doing good?”

        You wrote: But it doesn’t sound like what Jesus Christ Himself taught.

        That’s true.

        But, again, the question is whether you are going to be blunt and drive people away or use a bit of tact to lead them to discover the truth in a manner that lets them own it for themselves.

        Norm.

  4. EPMS says:

    St Paul was prepared to be all things to all men, as I recall. He engaged in some slugfests with committed Jews, not generally very successfully, and he pitched another kind of message to the randomly pagan. The point was by any means to save some, not to be able to say “Well I did my bit by pointing out where they’d gone wrong.”

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