Monday, June 30, 2008

GAFCON in a Nutshell

The Jerusalem Declaration is admittedly problematic on many levels, including the apparent elevation of the XXXIX Articles above the Prayer Book and Apostolic Tradition* and the subtle refusal to accept the male character of Holy Orders, and essentially leaves the GAFCON/Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans group in formal communion with Churches that have abandoned the Catholic Faith in either or both the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. The ecclesiola in ecclesiae formed by GAFCON within the Anglican Communion is an almost entirely evangelical protestant entity which may very well be devoid of meaningful or substantial theological space for or apprehension of the Catholic Movement in Anglicanism. Have lasting solutions been created, or only deferences and delays of the inevitable practical dissolution of the Lambeth Communion structure? Does GAFCON possess any direct ecclesiology or sacramental theology of communio or koinonia? The discerning Catholic will most probably be compelled to answer these questions in the negative. FOCA is essentially a body of protestant ethos bearing an Anglican historical link. Many, if not most, Anglican Catholics will likely not in conscience be able to adhere to it for the long-term.

This analysis may seem overly pessimistic or cynical, but it is how I have observed the proceedings and read the documents up to this point. Let us pray a greater future lies ahead for Catholics and evangelicals alike in the new sub-church now in generation.

*For example, the Articles of Religion are not a Creed, nor have they ever heretofore functioned as a protestant Confession like that of Augsburg or Westminster: they are Articles of peace and of theological boundaries for a national Church, conditioned historically by the times in which and the controversies for which they were written, and were never intended to be a sweeping or comprehensive dogmatic statement of Anglican theology. Better yet, they are in fact Catholic Articles in protestant language, rightly interpreted by the Book of Common Prayer, and never intended to supplant the Prayer Book or Apostolic Tradition as a doctrinal magisterium.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Jerusalem Declaration and the Affirmation of Saint Louis Compared

The Jerusalem Declaration - 2008
The Affirmation of Saint Louis - 1977

The GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration dogmatically affirms: the Canonical Scriptures, the first four Ecumenical Councils and the three Catholic Creeds, a novel doctrinal authority and necessity for the XXXIX Articles of Religion, the 1662 English Prayer Book as locally adapted, the threefold Apostolic Ministry and the Anglican Ordinal, and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

It does not affirm: the Ecumenical Councils of Constantinople II (AD 553), Constantinople III (AD 680) and Nicea II (AD 787), the explicit role of Holy and Apostolic Tradition, the 1928 American and 1962 Canadian Prayer Books, the male character of the Apostolic Ministry and especially of the priesthood and episcopate, the dominical Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist and the ecclesiastical Sacraments of Confirmation, Penance, and Unction, and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.

We affirm that the Church of our fathers, sustained by the most Holy Trinity, lives yet, and that we, being moved by the Holy Spirit to walk only in that way, are determined to continue in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church, doing all things necessary for the continuance of the same. We are upheld and strengthened in this determination by the knowledge that many provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion have continued steadfast in the same Faith, Order, Worship and Witness, and that they continue to confine ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate to males. We rejoice in these facts and we affirm our solidarity with these provinces and dioceses.

1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

In the firm conviction that "we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ," and that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," and acknowledging our duty to proclaim Christ's saving Truth to all peoples, nations and tongues, we declare our intention to hold fast the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith of God. We acknowledge that rule of faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins: "Let us hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all, for that is truly and properly Catholic."

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the authentic record of God's revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands - a revelation valid for all men and all time.

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

The Nicene Creed is the authoritative summary of the chief articles of the Christian Faith, together with the "Apostles' Creed, and that known as the Creed of St. Athanasius to be "thoroughly received and believed" in the sense they have had always in the Catholic Church. The received Tradition of the Church and its teachings are set forth by "the ancient catholic bishops and doctors," and especially defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, to the exclusion of all errors, ancient and modern. We disclaim any right or competence to suppress, alter or amend any of the ancient Ecumenical Creeds and definitions of Faith, to set aside or depart from Holy Scripture, or to alter or deviate from the essential prerequisites of any Sacrament.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

We repudiate all deviation of departure from the Faith, in whole or in part, and bear witness to these essential principles of evangelical Truth and apostolic Order: The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance and Unction of the Sick, are objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and His covenanted means for conveying His grace. In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had) -- Baptism as incorporating us into Christ with its completion in Confirmation as the "seal of the Holy Spirit", and the Eucharist as the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

We recognize that man, as inheritor of original sin, is "very far gone from original righteousness," and as a rebel against God's authority is liable to His righteous judgment. We recognize, too, that God loves His children and particularly has shown it forth in the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that man cannot be saved by any effort of his own, but by the Grace of God, through repentance and acceptance of God's forgiveness.

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

In the continuing Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer is and remains one work in two editions: The Canadian Book of 1962 and the American Book of 1928. Each is fully and equally authoritative. No other standard for worship exists. For liturgical use, only the Book of Common Prayer and service books conforming to and incorporating it shall be used.

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.

The Holy Orders of bishops, priests and deacons are the perpetuation of Christ's gift of apostolic ministry to His Church, asserting the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession or priest ordained by such as the celebrant of the Eucharist - these Orders consisting exclusively of men in accordance with Christ's Will and institution as evidenced by the Scriptures, and the universal practice of the Catholic Church. The ancient office and ministry of Deaconesses is a lay vocation for women, affirming the need for proper encouragement of that office. Bishops are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers, as well as their duty (together with other clergy and the laity) to guard and defend the purity and integrity of the Church's Faith and Moral Teaching. In affirming these principles, we recognize that all Anglican statements of faith and liturgical formulae must be interpreted in accordance with them.

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.

The God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman is God's loving provision for procreation and family life, and sexual activity is to be practiced only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony. We recognize also that, as keepers of God's will and truth for man, we can and ought to witness to that will and truth against all manifest evils, remembering that we are as servants in the world, but God's servants first.

9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

We gather as people called by God to be faithful and obedient to Him. As the Royal Priestly People of God, the Church is called to be, in fact, the manifestation of Christ in and to the world. True religion is revealed to man by God. We cannot decide what is truth, but rather in obedience ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church is created by God, and is beyond the ultimate control of man. The Church is the Body of Christ at work in the world. She is the society of the baptized called out from the world: In it, but not of it. As Christ's faithful Bride, she is different from the world and must not be influenced by it.

10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

All people, individually and collectively, are responsible to their Creator for their acts, motives, thoughts and words, since "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . ." Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful. All people are bound by the dictates of the Natural Law and by the revealed Will of God, insofar as they can discern them. We believe, therefore, it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world.

11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

We affirm our continued relations of communion with all faithful parts of the Anglican Communion. We declare our firm intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who "worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity," and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in accordance with the foregoing principles. The continuing Anglicans remain in full communion with all other faithful parts of the Anglican Communion, and should actively seek similar relations with all other Apostolic and Catholic Churches, provided that agreement in the essentials of Faith and Order first be reached. We recognize that the World Council of Churches, and many national and other Councils adhering to the World Council, are non-Apostolic, humanist and secular in purpose and practice, and that under such circumstances, we cannot be members of any of them. We also recognize that the Consultation of Church Union and all other such schemes, being non-Apostolic and non-Catholic in their present concept and form, are unacceptable to us, and that we cannot be associated with any of them.

12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

WHEREFORE, with a firm trust in Divine Providence, and before Almighty God and all the company of heaven, we solemnly affirm, covenant and declare that we, lawful and faithful members of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches, shall now and hereafter continue and be the unified continuing Anglican Church in North America, in true and valid succession thereto.

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

We affirm that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, by their unlawful attempts to alter Faith, Order and Morality (especially in their General Synod of 1975 and General Convention of 1976), have departed from Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We affirm that all former ecclesiastical governments, being fundamentally impaired by the schismatic acts of lawless Councils, are of no effect among us, and that we must now reorder such godly discipline as may strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness. We affirm that the claim of any such schismatic person or body to act against any Church member, clerical or lay, for his witness to the whole Faith is with no authority of Christ's true Church, and any such inhibition, deposition or discipline is without effect and is absolutely null and void.

14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

In this gathering witness of Anglicans and Episcopalians, we continue to be what we are. We do nothing new. We form no new body, but continue as Anglicans and Episcopalians. NOW, THEREFORE, deeply aware of our duty to all who love and believe the Faith of our Fathers, of our duty to God, who alone shall judge what we do, we make this Affirmation. Before God, we claim our Anglican/Episcopal inheritance, and proclaim the same to the whole Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Altars and Images

Your sensus catholicus is absolutely correct and always inspiring; indeed, it is certainly not only permissible but laudatory to erect a shrine or altar in one's home for the purpose of Christian devotion, as such practice goes directly to the heart of orthodox Christian theology and spirituality and reinforces powerfully the reality and effect of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The God Who became Man dwells in us and in the Church by His Holy Spirit as in a temple, and certainly it is always and everywhere correct to consecrate our homes and dwelling places to Our Lord by the use of sacred Images and other sacramentals. The honour given to the Christian icon passes to its prototype, and the possession and veneration of icons communicate the fact and the graces of Incarnation of the Word of God - the God Who was once invisible became forever permanently visible in the Person of Our Lord, and thus the Holy Icons defend and teach, and what is more, confer in a mystical way, the mystery of the Eternal Son of God made Man. Icons and statues are actually necessary to orthodox Christian worship, for without them the Incarnation cannot be realised in a personal and tangible manner. The miracles and actions of Our Lord pass, upon His Ascension, into the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church. If you have not had your home blessed by a priest, please consider that sacramental as a splendid way of offering your lives and your home to God in a profound way.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, a corner of the most prominent room of the home or the most comfortable and familiar area is set apart as an 'icon corner' in which icons of Christ, His Mother and Saints are set-up for private prayer, devotion and veneration. In the Roman Catholic tradition, statues and images of Christ, Our Lady and the Saints adorn most rooms of a devout person's home, and the crucifix is particularly used, being as it is the great Sign of Salvation. A actual small altar with an enshrined Image or Images on it is common in many RC places. Anglicans are free, in the natural spirit of liberty so cherished by us, to follow either path or to combine them. The Prayer Book and other Anglican formularies give no direction regarding such practice, nor do they prohibit or recommend any one course of action. You are free to do what you believe is most edifying for you and your family. Personally, we primarily collect and use icons of the Byzantine Orthodox tradition and sprinkle them around our home. Celtic crosses are popular too. We always keep a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Patroness of the British Isles, in every room or section of the house. A crucifix is prominently displayed in each bedroom and office space. Please feel at liberty to choose those styles of Christian art that most appeal to you. The only objectionable or inappropriate images are those that do not accord with the Sacred Tradition of the Church or whose artistic value and merits are in question! The Orthodox tradition of the East prohibits, 1. images of Our Lady without the Christ Child, as they tend to separate the Holy Virgin from the reason for her exaltation, namely the Incarnation, and 2. images of God the Father, Who is invisible and for that reason cannot be depicted in an icon. Only icons of canonised Saints, recognised by the Church and honoured at her Altars, should be kept and venerated. If you have any questions about an image, please know you are always most welcome to ask.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Most Interesting News From GAFCON Thus Far...

From Ruth Gledhill of The Times:

'I also took the chance to ask Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen, who is part of the Gafcon leadership team, if he hoped that one day the entire Anglican Communion would adopt lay presidency, or lay administration as he prefers to call it. He said the issue was not comparable to that of homosexuality because the question of administering communion is never addressed in the Bible, while homosexuality is. "It [lay administration] is a subject we have been talking about in our diocese for 30 years," he said. But he was aware there was "considerable disagreement" about it around the Communion, and to date his diocese had held back from engaging with it formally.'

The de facto head of GAFCON and the burgeoning neo-evangelical movement within the Anglican Communion does not believe that Our Lord constituted the Twelve Apostles priestly stewards of the New Testament at the Last Supper and in the Resurrection and uniquely commended to them and their successors in the episcopate-priesthood alone the commission and authority to celebrate Mystery of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, in spite of the perspicuous teaching of Scripture and primitive Tradition and the perennial instruction of the Book of Common Prayer. What can one say?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Theosis and The Way of A Pilgrim

Thank you for your note and your ideas and critiques concerning the admittedly esoteric and mystical theology of The Way of A Pilgrim. There are certainly aspects of the book and the mystical practices it endorses which easily puzzle and even befuddle Western Christians, given our penchant for a more carefully expressed and examined explication of the theology and practice of the Catholic Faith. Since the time of Saint Anselm of Canterbury and especially Saint Thomas Aquinas, we in the West have certainly preferred having theological and mystical concepts explored and articulated in a way that leaves Eastern Orthodox mysticism alien and somewhat frustrating to our deeply Western Christian ethos. And I assuredly agree that, given my own deep Westernisation, some of the expressions in The Way appear to me at least to be hyperbolic and loose-ended at best, and at worst, reckless and negligently sloppy.

Given those problems, one can understand how The Way is understandably interpreted in a Western context to smack of pantheism or panentheism. But given the strict doctrinal standards of orthodoxy in the Eastern Churches, I would purposely hesitate to attach such labels to the mystical and ascetical theology of the Orthodox. Orthodox dogmatic theology, the content of necessary and salvific doctrine, like Anglicanism's, is contained in the Liturgy and the consensus of the Fathers, which in turn interpret the Holy Scriptures: Scripture and Tradition fit hand-in-glove and support and interpret and fulfill each other. The Orthodox, like Anglicans, believe in the absolute primacy and infallibility of Scripture. So the seemingly wild expressions in The Way must be subject to both Scripture and the consensus patricum of the Undivided Church, and that even the Pilgrim should know quite well.

You offer the excellent and very observant question - What does the Pilgrim mean when he refers to the inner self, or entering into oneself? If such sentiments were gesticulated in a pagan or heathen context we should surely say he has fallen prey to the New Age movement or gnosticism. But he is an Orthodox Christian. The answer to the dilemma is found in the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of theosis or deification, divinisation, which emphasises the fact that God is Light and the Christian, regenerated by the Holy Ghost and infused with the divine life in Baptism and the Eucharist, is capable of participating in the life and light of God to such a degree that he may have a mystical vision and communion with the Light of God. Many of the great Eastern Fathers, including Saint Gregory Nazianzus (4th c.), Saint Maximus the Confessor (5th c.) and Saint Symeon the New Theologian (11th c.), directly and explicitly describe the Vision of Light they experienced through hesychasm and the Prayer of the Heart. II Saint Peter 1.4 is the locus classicus for this doctrine in the New Testament, 'we are partakers of the divine nature.' In the Old Testament the Fathers emphasise Psalm 82.1,6, which refers to the children of God as being like God Himself. 'ye are all gods and children of the Most High'.

Therefore the mystical tradition of the Eastern Churches does not intend to convey some gnostic self-centred new ageish assertion that man is a spark of the divine or a manifestation of a god-force or other such nonsense. Quite the opposite is intended - Orthodox anthropology sees the human person united to Jesus Christ as one who has been made by grace to become what God is by nature, or to use the Athanasian formula, 'God became Man so that man may become God.' Saint Gregory the Theologian writes along the same lines: 'The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men may become the sons of God.' The 'inner self 'or 'entering into oneself' to which the Pilgrim makes reference is the participation of the soul in the divine grace, and union of the human person with the Trinitarian Communion of the Godhead. The Pilgrim is not worshipping himself as some piece or part of God, nor is he trying to find a self-emanation of a god-force by self-meditation or self-contemplation. He moves into the heart in prayer because it is there, in his heart sanctified by the life-giving Trinity, where the miracle of the union of God and man in Christ is revealed in all of its power, grace and glory. God living in the heart is not merely metaphor; it is reality.

In theosis, man in Christ becomes truly, intrinsically and ontologically, and not only nominally, forensically or exteriorly, the Likeness of God, and shares in the energy and life of the Holy Trinity, although he does not share in or know the essence of God, which essence is inaccessible and unknowable. Or so says Saint Gregory Palamas! In Eastern Orthodoxy, grace is nothing short of God Himself graciously and gratuitously working is us to make us the full and complete Likeness to God in moral and spiritual virtue, in holiness, by Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Prayer of the Heart, in Orthodox theology, is permitted to look in the self and enter the self only, and strictly only, because the Holy Ghost lives there, Jesus Christ lives there, and has made the Christian the Temple and dwelling-place of the Trinity.

In theosis, what we Westerners usually call the process of sanctification, God conforms us more and more closely and intimately to Himself, and makes us really to share in His life, His grace, His holiness and His attributes, the most tangible of which is the Divine Light. The concept of God as Light is, of course, Scriptural and found as well in the Constantinopolitan Creed. In theosis, we enter into the energy and life of God, His Light, so that like Our Lord on the Mount of Tabor in His Transfiguration, and in the resplendent glory of His Resurrection and divinised Body, we are made to participate through our human nature in the glorified human nature of Jesus Christ. Theosis is our own transfiguration, the foretaste and preparation of our own resurrection and glorification in the Risen Lord, Who gives us His own Light and Life by the Holy Spirit.

The Fathers use the analogy of iron plunged into fire to describe what happens to us in theosis: although we remain completely and immutably human, we take on by grace the properties of God, Who causes us to partake of Him in such a mysterious and ineffable manner that we can be said to be entered indissolubly into His self-giving and self-offering existence of love. The iron remains iron but takes on the property of the fire; Christ in the Incarnation remained God but truly assumed human nature in every way; the Christian remains human but is caused by grace to share the life of God. Deification is the extension of the Incarnation and the purpose for which the Incarnation happened. 'Only that which is assumed is redeemed,' and thus man's whole nature is freed from sin and made incorruptible, immortal and like unto Christ, the Imago Christi, 'we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is' (I St John 3.1-2).

In the sixteenth century, the protestant revolt rejected the possibility that man could, by grace, interiorly, intrinsically and ontologically become one with God, a holy one, a Saint, a 'God by grace', and hence it developed a generally lop-sided view of justification by faith alone as being an alien and external righteousness legally imputed to the believer solely on the basis of his personal assent of faith (Luther) or predestination (Calvin). Vindication not transformation. Luther says that justified man is a dung heap covered in snow - his sins are only covered over, not washed away and replaced by divine life, and man is still inherently sinful, not healed, restored and recreated in nature. In all protestant systems, the idea that grace is objectively infused and imparted so as to make man objectively a genuine partaker of the divine nature is refuted in favour of the doctrine of total depravity and its concomitant view that justification is a matter of subjective faith alone, which changes one's legal status before God but does not divinise from within. We maintain, of course, that both elements of justification and sanctification are necessary, the objective and the subjective...

The Church Catholic has always held that righteousness and grace are not only imputed but really given, really infused into the body and soul, and man, once fallen and deprived of the divine life, is given the capacity to be renovated and renewed into the Image and Likeness of God. Image of God in creation and soul, Likeness to God in holiness and virtue. The Orthodox believe in this synergy of man and God and this transformation of human nature through Christ's assumption of human nature very strongly, and Anglicanism has always, on some level, followed their lead. We believe it too, and thus our doctrine of the Church and Sacraments as means of sanctifying grace.

In the end, I believe we do need to be very careful about expressions of mystical experience and communion with God, and we need to be very theologically and doctrinally precise with our language so as to avoid error or misunderstanding, but with those caveats offered, I do not believe in the instance of The Way we have any heretical or unbiblical perspective being presented. The context of the Eastern patristic and conciliar tradition is here all important. Rather, in language we Westerners find bizarre and even troubling, the Orthodox are expressing the ancient belief of the whole Catholic Church that those who are adopted as the children of God by grace and regeneration, and transformed inwardly by the Sacraments, are made to participate in God and to live the life of God in the communion of the Holy Trinity, which mystery both East and West call theosis or God-likeness.

My ability to elucidate these mysteries is very limited indeed and I appreciate your patience in bearing with me! Please feel free to send along your thoughts and comments. God bless you and keep you!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement

Finally online...

The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement

The publication of The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement concludes the third phase of the Anglican-Orthodox international theological dialogue. The Statement sets out significant material on the life of the Church which is timely and pertinent to many of the current debates within Anglicanism. It will be offered for consideration at the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.

FIFNA: On Priestesses and the 1954 South African BCP

The Forward in Faith North America Assembly has called on the CCP to suspend the purported ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate pending a promised study of the problem in the Partnership and has also, rather curiously, endorsed the 1954 South African Book of Common Prayer and the 1929 Scottish BCP Canon of the Mass as FIFNA's official standard of worship as opposed to the more natural choice of the 1928 American or 1962 Canadian Prayer Books...

2008.2 Whereas the leaders of the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have declared their commitment to conduct a substantial theological study on the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, which has been subsequently reiterated as the intention of the Common Cause Partnership, Be it resolved that Forward in Faith North America calls upon the Common Cause Partnership to declare a moratorium on the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate pending the completion of the study.

2008.5A Resolution pursuant to the Articles of the Common Cause Partnership

Whereas Article 2, paragraph 1 of The Common Cause Partnership states that each Partner "accepts one of the historic Books of Common Prayer as the primary standard of worship"; Be it resolved that Forward in Faith, North America, accept as its primary standard of worship The Book of Common Prayer as set forth in 1954 for use in the Church of South Africa; But be it further resolved that, in observance of Bishop Seabury's promise to the bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland who consecrated him, the eucharistic prayer of the Scottish Liturgy, as set forth in that Church's Book of Common Prayer as approved in 1929 shall be used in place of the corresponding text in the South African book.

ALL glory and thanksgiving be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who, by his own oblation of himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memorial of that his precious death and sacrifice until his coming again.
For, in the night that he was betrayed, he took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you: Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this, for this is my Blood of the new testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins: Do this as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me.
Wherefore, O Lord, and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we thy humble servants do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion, and precious death, his mighty resurrection, and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same, and looking for his coming again with power and great glory.
And we thine unworthy servants beseech thee, most merciful Father, to hear us, and to send thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that, being blessed and hallowed by his life-giving power, they may become the Body and Blood of thy most dearly beloved Son, to the end that all who shall receive the same may be sanctified both in body and soul, and preserved unto everlasting life.
And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.
And here we humbly offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee, beseeching thee that all we who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, and be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us and we in him.
And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Board of Examining Chaplains Report to Synod 2008

What I've been up to lately...

To live in the midst of the world with no desire for all its pleasures;
To be a member of every family, yet belonging to one;
To share all sufferings;
To penetrate all secrets, to heal all wounds;
To daily go from men to God to offer Him their homage and petitions;
To return from God to men to bring them His pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity:
To bless and to be blest forever.
O God, what a life, and it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!

Words of the famous Father JPH Lacordaire regarding the responsibility of the Board of Examining Chaplains, the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. With the truth of these profound words in mind, it continues to be my highest privilege to serve as Chairman of the Board and to present once again this year this report to the Diocesan Synod. I am deeply grateful to the Bishop for the confidence and trust he has placed in me by assigning me to this task, and I pray that I have in the past year discharged this weighty charge with fidelity and determination.

In September 2007 the Bishop graciously bestowed upon me a tremendous honour and responsibility in naming me the Canon Vocations Director of the Diocese. ‘What does a Vocations Director do?’ you may astutely ask. He serves as the official adviser and assistant to the Bishop for the formation and training of the future clergy of the Diocese of the Eastern United States. His principal role is to serve the Church in the process of attracting, cultivating, encouraging and forming vocations of men to the Sacred Order of Priests and the Sacred Order of Deacons and of women to the lay ministry of Deaconess. The ministry of the Canon Vocations Director includes the creation of projects and gatherings designed to promote an increase of vocations to the Ministry and to equip Church leaders, clergy and lay, for ministry and service. He serves as a facilitator for interest in vocations and a liaison for the Board of Examining Chaplains to the wider Church. The Canon Vocations Director, a ministry for building-up the spiritual lives of all the baptized, is available to the whole Diocese, both clergy and laity, to provide information and offer counsel to all interested in the formation process. His ministry is also that of a spiritual director, who is available to supply spiritual companionship, assistance and guidance to any who wish to explore or deepen their sense of vocation to Christian service of whatever kind or form. The Canon Vocations Director serves in a particular way the spiritual and personal needs of seminarians and their families and of those engaged in formation in the Diocese. Please pray for me as I persevere in this new aspect of my ministry.

At this time, I wish to thank the other Examining Chaplains of the Diocese, who sacrifice much of their personal time and energy in the crucial work of this august body. Working with them is the greatest privilege one could have in the Church, and I remain in awe of their knowledge of and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have these Reverend Fathers to thank for the excellent standards now in place in our Diocese for the formation of Priests, Deacons and Deaconesses for the twenty-first century. I have never seen a finer group of dedicated and hard-working priests: Father David Eastes of the Central Florida Deanery; Dean Douglas King of Saint Paul’s Church, Melbourne, Florida; Dean Glenn Spencer of All Saints’ Church, Charlottesville, Virginia; Father Michael Ward of Saint Mark’s Church, Vero Beach, Florida; and Father Raymond Unterburger of Saint Alban’s Church, Joppa, Maryland, who joined the Board at last year’s Synod. Father Paul Blankinship remains on a leave of absence from the Board. Additionally, we are grateful for Deaconess Tina Jenkins, who has been assigned to assist us in Deaconess formation. It continues to be a joyful blessing for all the Examining Chaplains to serve the Church and Diocese in this ministry, and we again thank the Bishop for our appointment.

Since last Synod, 2 men were ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests, 1 man was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons and 1 woman was set-apart for the lay ministry of Deaconess. The following men are now Priests forever after the Order of Melchizedek: Father Edward Moore of All Saints’ Church, Charlottesville, Virginia and Father David Chatel of Holy Spirit Church, Mobile, Alabama, who received ordination sub conditione to the Diaconate and Priesthood. Deborah Kidd of Saint George the Martyr Church, Simpsonville, South Carolina was set-apart as a Deaconess.

Currently and splendidly, there are 19 persons enrolled in the diocesan ministry process, from 5 in the beginning application mode to others who fall into different stages on the way to approval for Orders. We should be infinitely grateful to God for the ongoing increase of vocations in our Diocese. Let us continue to pray for a great harvest of vocations to the Sacred Ministry of the Holy Catholic Church and let us beseech the Lord for truly holy, good and godly Priests and Deacons.

At last year’s Synod we received approval from the Bishop and Diocesan Standing Committee to expand over time the current technology at our disposal for the creation of the Diocese of the Eastern United States House of Theological Studies, to begin as soon as possible. This virtual seminary will serve as a training institute for the Diocese in which the training process for ordinands will be formalised according to our own standards. A legal corporation will be created for the structure and organisation of the House, Dean Douglas King serving as administrator/president of the corporation. Once the formal incorporation and organisation of the House have been accomplished, we shall then formally produce the list of courses which we wish to make available on Webex and in print for the seminarians and clergy of the Diocese. We shall also assign instructors for each course: the content, policies, teachers and texts for the courses and the House in general will be determined by the consensus of the Examining Chaplains, which serves to supervise all aspects of the House under the authority of the Bishop.
The first instalment will focus on the formation of future Priests and Deacons in the particulars of the Anglican Tradition, a process of 'Anglicising' in which men will be taught the distinctives of our Anglican patrimony, liturgically, theologically, historically and pastorally. The later instalment will provide continuing education for the clergy of the Diocese. We anticipate a small fee for each student to cover our operating costs, tentatively $200-300 per student per course. We shall administer the House ourselves as the Board of Examining Chaplains and will report to the Bishop and Standing Committee on our activities. The Examining Chaplains will serve as the Board of Directors. The Bishop, of course, serves ex officio on our House Board. We shall administer the finances and bookkeeping of the Board as well. There will be no initial additional costs unless we expand the Webex system beyond its current parameters. We look forward to reporting next year that we have fully implemented the first stage of our plan!

We received at last year’s Synod approval for the official sponsorship of an Annual Seminarians' Support Sunday for the entire Diocese and designated for it, beginning in 2007, the Second Sunday in Advent, Bible Sunday, a most appropriate time of the year to solicit financial support for our men and women. Monies collected that day are sent from all parishes and missions to the Diocesan Treasurer for the Diocesan Seminarian Fund. The first such Sunday was successfully sponsored in 2007. As a result of your generosity and contributions, the total Diocesan Fund reached a high-point of just over $10,000 last year.

Over the past year, the Examining Chaplains have enjoyed the opportunity of working with a number of men and women in varying stages of formation. Father Ernest Pinto, Deacon of Saint Mary’s Church, Delray Beach, Florida continues his seminary formation through the Theological Certificate Programme of the Reformed Theological Seminary virtual campus. Michael Cawthon of Saint Michael the Archangel Church, Charlotte, North Carolina continues the Reformed Theological Seminary virtual campus Master of Arts in Religion programme. Deborah Gravatt of All Saints’ Church, Arden, North Carolina continues her master’s degree programme at Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin. Matthew Harlow of Saint Michael the Archangel Church, Charlotte, North Carolina attends the Reformed Theological Seminary virtual campus. Linda Moritz of Saint Mary’s Church, Delray Beach, Florida has reactivated her status as a candidate for the Deaconess ministry. Paul Owen of All Saints’ Church, Arden, North Carolina continues his assigned formation programme. Paul Rivard of Saint Barnabas’ Church, Dunwoody, Georgia, is a seminarian at Erskine Theological Seminary, Due West, South Carolina. Donald Sackett of Saint Alban’s Church, Joppa, Maryland, is a rising senior seminarian at Nashotah House Seminary. Arthur Walker of Saint Michael the Archangel Church, Charlotte, North Carolina is enrolled in the Master of Arts in Theology track through the Distance Learning programme of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

At our official Synod meeting held Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 June here in Annapolis, we canonically examined Father LeRoy ‘Chris’ Gardner of Church of the Redeemer, Hilton Head, South Carolina for the Sacred Priesthood and we canonically examined Thomas Burr of Saint Paul’s Church, Crownsville, Maryland and Daniel Trout of Saint Alban’s Cathedral for the Sacred Order of Deacons. At this Synod we have submitted our reports concerning examinations to the Bishop and the Standing Committee for their consideration. One candidate for the Priesthood and two candidates for the Diaconate, all approved by the Board, have been presented to the Standing Committee for final approval for ordination at this Synod.

We also interviewed one man for postulancy for Holy Orders in the Diocese: David Keller of Saint Alban’s Cathedral and a transferred postulant from the Anglican Church in America. The Board has subsequently recommended him to the Bishop to begin the next stage of formation.

Father David Bottoms (Major, United States Army) of All Saints’ Church, Charlottesville, Virginia was ordained last week to the Sacred Order of Deacons by Bishop Peter Brewer on behalf of the Reformed Episcopal Church to serve as a chaplain in the Armed Forces. After his ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, he will, God willing, be transferred to our jurisdiction for service under the authority of our Diocese.

Richard Palmer of Saint Paul’s Church, Cincinnati, Ohio was interviewed at this Synod for recommendation by the Bishop’s Advisory Committee. The Committee has subsequently recommended him to the Examining Chaplains to begin the next stage of formation.

At our impending Autumn Meeting later this year, we look forward to having the opportunity to interview the following gentlemen for postulancy for Holy Orders: Mac Boney of All Saints’ Church, Wilmington, North Carolina and Scott Koszalinski of Saint Mary the Virgin Church, Delray Beach, Florida; Barry Messer of Saint Paul’s Church, Melbourne Florida and Leonard Vaughn of Saint Barnabas’ Church, Dunwoody, Georgia has entered the applicant stage of formation.

All Rectors and Vicars are reminded that they should have on file copies of the Diocesan Application for Ministry with its cover pages which provide the sequence of procedures for those contemplating a vocation to Holy Orders in this Church. These materials are available for you in an electronic format. Men who wish to offer themselves for the permanent Diaconate now have a specific programme in which to enter for that purpose. Men who wish to offer themselves for the Priesthood are now required to complete a master’s degree in theology before ordination.

On a personal note, please remember that all members of the Diocese and Province, clergy and lay, are most welcome to contact me at any time regarding any questions or comments concerning the Board of Examining Chaplains and our work. ‘Chad Jones University’ is always open and available for you. The ‘University’ has now officially relocated to Saint Barnabas’ Church in beautiful Dunwoody, Georgia and could be called Traditional Anglicanism’s UGA; please be well assured that the sign on the Curate’s door always says, ‘the Chairman is in,’ and I am at your continual disposal to provide whatever you may need from the Board for the formation and training of our future Priesthood.

Dear Bishop Grundorf, thank you for your loving and continual support of our work, and thank you, beloved members of the Synod, for your time and kind attention.

God bless you! Respectfully submitted: Canon Chandler Holder Jones, SSC, Chairman.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Reverend Father Brandon Holder Jones

Thou art a Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek!

Congratulations and blessings to Father Brandon Holder Jones, my identical twin brother, who, by the Imposition of Hands and the Invocation of the Holy Ghost, received the Sacred Order of Priests on Saturday 7 June 2008, at Saint Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ordaining prelate was His Excellency, the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. Please pray for Father Brandon as he begins his new ministry. It so happens that the date of his First Holy Mass coincides with the anniversary of my ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons, 8 June 1996, the Saturday in the Octave of Corpus Christi that year. What is most remarkable and providential, but certainly not coincidental, is that our anniversaries converge in a fascinating way: The anniversary of my First Mass is the anniversary of his ordination to the Diaconate; the anniversary of his First Mass is the anniversary of my ordination to the Diaconate. The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed.

It was an unutterable privilege to be present at Father Brad's Priestly Ordination and to be seated in the sanctuary for his first celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us pray that someday it may be possible for Anglican and Roman priests, restored to full communion with one another in the Faith of the Undivided Church of the First Millennium, to concelebrate the One Eucharist of the Lord and to communicate together in the One Mystery of the Altar. Let us also continue to pray fervently for a ever increasing co-operation and collaboration between the English Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches. Ut unum sint.

The Dissolution of Institutional Episcopalianism: Defending the Indefensible

TEC Bishop John Howe writes:

Common Cause is a confederation of Anglican-style entities that are not recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in my opinion, will not hold together. Their fatal flaw is their disagreement over the ordination of women. Common Cause cannot and will not recognize as valid the priesthood of Valerie Balius. It is not a Communion solution.

The characterisation/epithet of 'Anglican-style' for the bodies and organisations comprising the Common Cause Partnership is provocative and surprisingly dismissive. Is the Bishop calling CCP bodies vagantes? Many have thought that the Bishop of Central Florida was sympathetic to the CCP, but that is clearly no longer the case. What is clear is that he is a firm supporter of women's 'ordination' and perceives the CCP as a threat to the preservation or recognition of that innovation. Bishop Howe is, however, quite correct about the communion-dividing problem posed by the ordination of women, and indeed that obstacle does seem to be the potential origin and harbinger of a future break-up of the CCP. Unless the question of women's ordination is finally settled one way or the other to the satisfaction of all involved, it threatens to polarise and ultimately divide the CCP as it irrevocably split the Anglican Communion itself.

In leaving The Episcopal Church the options before you are to ally with a Bishop who is not recognized as such by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He alone defines who is and who is not "Anglican."

The Anglican Marian exiles of the sixteenth century, the British Catholic Church of the Non-Jurors, the faithful Anglican remnant during the English Commonwealth and Interregnum, the Anglicans of South India after 1947, the Continuing Churches past and present, and a fledgling American Episcopal Church after 1776 would all vehemently disagree with this sweeping over generalisation and assertion. It is flatly unhistorical and erects a disturbing precedent. The Archiepiscopate of Canterbury is not an Anglican Papacy, not has it ever attempted to define Anglicanism beyond what is canonically stipulated in the Church of England as allegiance to Catholic Faith and Order and the authority of the BCP, Ordinal and XXXIX Articles of Religion, and maintenance of communio in sacris with those Churches which have historically comprised the Anglican Communion. Bishops William Sancroft, Francis Turner, William Lloyd, William Thomas, John Lake, Thomas Cartwright, Thomas Ken, and even Robert Kilgour, Arthur Petrie, John Skinner and Samuel Seabury were all perfectly Anglican and orthodox, although they were certainly not always in communion with either the Church of England or the See of Canterbury.

It seems the apologia for TEC Institution has taken on a more desperate tone...

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -