Friday, December 21, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

The Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, Saturday 21st December 1996, on bright clear glistening snow-covered morning in Lexington, Virginia, I was ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church at Saint Paul’s Church by the Most Reverend John Thayer Cahoon, Junior of the Anglican Catholic Church. What a glorious day it was!

You go with me to the Altar of God today as the Holy Sacrifice is offered in thanksgiving for sixteen years of participation in Christ’s Holy Priesthood. Please pray for me on this day. Thank you very much and God bless you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmastide at Saint Barnabas Dunwoody

The first extant icon of Mother and Child - Saint Priscilla catacomb, Rome, 2nd Century AD.

Please remember to keep CHRIST in Christmas - and to keep MASS in Christmas as well!

The Nativity of Our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas Eve

Monday 24th December

Family Holy Communion (hymns and carols) - 7pm

Sung Holy Communion (incense) - 10pm

The Nativity of Our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas Day

Tuesday 25th December

Sung Holy Communion - 10am

The Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

Wednesday 26th December

Holy Communion - Noon

The First Sunday after Christmas Day
Sunday 30th December

Holy Communion - 9am
Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmastide - 11am

The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ
Tuesday 1st January

Holy Communion - Noon

Please join us if you are in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

God bless you and Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Appeal from the Continuing Anglican Churches to the ACNA and Associated Churches

The Continuing Anglican Church movement began with the Congress of Saint Louis in 1977.  The Anglican Church in North America was born in 2010. Between these two ecclesial movements there are points of contact, but there also is a great gulf fixed. 
In regard to points of contact, both of the entities concerned are movements composed of a number of imperfectly united ecclesial jurisdictions rather than perfectly united dioceses or Churches.  Both understand themselves to be Anglican and to relate in positive ways to a common history and shared theological and cultural influences.  Both understand themselves to have left former Church homes as an act of fidelity to the teaching of Scripture and in the face of grave aberrations in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.  Both are challenged by the need to present the gospel in compelling and attractive ways to an increasingly secular and indifferent Western society.
The gulf between us concerns mostly the changes accepted in the Episcopal Church (and the Canadian Church) between the mid-1970s and 2010.  Those of us who left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in the 1970s did so due to the adoption in those years of the ordination of women to the priesthood by General Convention (1976) and General Synod (1975).  More generally, in the roughly 30 years between the Congress of Saint Louis and ACNA’s formation, the people who eventually formed ACNA lived in ecclesial bodies which increasingly abandoned elements of classical Anglicanism.  The precipitating cause of the founding of the ACNA was TEC’s abandonment of orthodox Christian teaching concerning homosexuality.  But prior to 2010 many of those now in ACNA accepted liturgies and prayer books with few connections to classical Anglican worship and accepted female deacons, priests, and bishops contrary to the mind of all Anglicans prior to the mid-20th century. 
One of our number, in an earlier letter to Archbishop Duncan of ACNA, wrote in regard to these matters as follows:
The notion that women can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders in any of its three parts constitutes, in our view, a revolutionary and false claim:  a claim false in itself; a claim destructive of the common ministry that once united Anglicans; and, finally, a claim productive of an even broader and worse consequence.  That worse consequence is the claim that Anglicans have authority to alter important matters of
faith and order against a clear consensus in the central tradition of Catholic and Orthodox Christendom.  Once such a claim is made it may be pressed into service to alter any matter of faith or morals.  The revolution devours its children.  Many of the clergy represented at GAFCON and now joining the ACNA seem to us to accept the flawed premise and its revolutionary claim in one matter while seeking to resist the application of the premise in the matter of homosexuality.  This position seems to us to be internally inconsistent and impossible to sustain successfully over time.
All Continuing Anglicans accept this analysis.  We note that ACNA has not abandoned the putative ordination of women and that this issue deeply divides the dioceses which compose ACNA. 
While we recognize that the Churches through history and today are free to adopt a variety of liturgical forms, as they are not free to accept the ordination of women, yet we also agree that any sound Anglican body today needs to relate more positively to the classical Books of Common Prayer than is the case in many ACNA dioceses. 
Many in ACNA effectively accept elements of the revolution since the 1970s.  If orthodox Anglicanism in North America is again to unite, then it can only do so on the basis of the pre-1976 state of the Church, without women clergy and with classically Anglican liturgies.

We recognize that the Continuing Church has failed to present a united front, has failed to grow as we should, and in general has failed to present an attractive alternative to the growing heresy and absurdity of the Episcopal Church.  However, we also note that against furious opposition, and often against obstacles set up by those who later formed ACNA, we have built hundreds of congregations in North America, many of which are thriving.  We have established works of mercy, publications ministries, and international missions, and we have trained and ordained a new generation of able clergy. 
The Continuing Churches are said to be riven by constant conflicts and to be increasingly divided.  This is not true.  Those of us who are undersigned below represent the great bulk of the Continuing Church.  We have among ourselves cordial relations.  We cooperate on many levels and have at least as great a level of
communion as that which exists amongst the disparate groups of ACNA.  Our tendency is towards greater unity and cooperation, whereas we observe within ACNA a tendency, just beneath the surface, to divide along the fault line we have identified above (between many in ACNA and classical Anglicanism).  We have no wish to deny or to minimize our own failures or divisions.  But our divisions are largely matters amenable to improvement.  The divisions facing ACNA are fundamental and essential.
We call upon ACNA to heed our call to return to your classical Anglican roots.  We commend to your prayerful attention the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which we firmly believe provides a sound basis for a renewed and fulfilled Anglicanism on our continent. We urge you to heed the call of Metropolitan Jonah, whose concerns we share.  Anglicanism in North America cannot be both united and orthodox on a partially revolutionized basis.  We call upon you to repudiate firmly any claim to alter doctrine or order against the consensus of the Catholic and Orthodox world.  We call upon you to embrace the classical Prayer Book tradition.  The 30 years between our formation in 1977 and yours in 2010 were years of sharp decline in TEC numbers and of growing aberrations in all areas of Church life.  We call upon you to look upon all the works of those years with a much more critical eye, and to join us in returning to the doctrine, worship, and orders that preceded the intervening decades.
Yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Paul Hewett, SSC
Diocese of the Holy Cross
The Most Reverend Walter Grundorf
Anglican Province of America
The Most Reverend Brian Marsh
Anglican Church in America
The Most Reverend Mark Haverland
Anglican Catholic Church
The Most Reverend Peter D. Robinson
United Episcopal Church of North America

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayers for Connecticut

Let us pray for the victims and their families in Connecticut:

O God, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Jesus, mercy. Mary, pray.

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Conception of Our Lady

O GOD Most High, who didst endue with wonderful virtue and grace the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Lord: Grant that we, who now call her blessed, may be made very members of the heavenly family of him who was pleased to be called the first-born among many brethren; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. (1962 Canadian Prayer Book)

O ALMIGHTY God, who didst endue with singular grace the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Lord: Vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to hallow our bodies in purity, and our souls in humility and love; through the same our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. (1929 Scottish Prayer Book)

The Church affirms that Mary is Full of Grace (St Luke 1.28) and therefore has no room in her life for sin, as she, the Woman whose Son is the Seed that crushed the serpent's head and who Himself was bruised by the serpent, the Mother of the Redeemer (Genesis 3.15), is perfectly faithful and obedient to the will and plan of God. 'I am the Handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy Word' (St Luke 1.38). Mary, in essence, is the Second and New Eve, who, freed from the power of sin, reverses the disobedience of the first Eve by her own obedience and fidelity to God. 'She loosed by her obedience the knot first tied by the disobedience of Eve' (St Iraneaus of Lyons). 'In the name Theotokos is wrapped-up the whole mystery of the economy of the salvation of God' (St John of Damascus).

The most ancient opinion about original sin in Our Lady was that which celebrated her freedom from original sin at the moment of the Annunciation, in which by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, Mary conceived Our Lord in her now-immaculate womb. This was called Our Lady's purification or katharsis and is still generally believed in the Eastern Churches today. 

'Conceived by the Virgin, who first in body and soul was purified by the Holy Ghost - for it was needful both that childbearing should be honoured, and that virginity should receive a higher honour, He came forth then as God with that which He had assumed, One person in two natures, flesh and Spirit, of which the latter deified the former.' (Oration 38, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus). 

This view is consistent with Scripture. We can summarise the whole subject with St Augustine of Hippo, who said so beautifully, 'Where sin is concerned, I do not even discuss it in relation to Mary.' All the Catholic Churches, including the Anglican, regardless of belief about the details of her conception, celebrate the Feast of Our Lady's Conception with great solemnity on December 8th. What all Catholics adhere to faithfully is the pious belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculate - negatively, free from sin, positively, full of all grace and virtue. So, as the Bible implies it and does not require it, the Church piously and simply calls Mary, the Spotless One.

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not accept the teaching that the Mother of God was exempted from the consequences of ancestral sin (death, corruption, sin, etc.) at the moment of her conception by virtue of the future merits of her Son. Only Christ was born perfectly holy and sinless, as St Ambrose of Milan teaches in Chapter Two of his Commentary on Luke. The Holy Virgin was like everyone else in her mortality, and in being subject to temptation, although she committed no personal sins. She was not a deified creature removed from the rest of humanity. If this were the case, she would not have been truly human, and the nature that Christ took from her would not have been truly human either. If Christ does not truly share our human nature, then the possibilty of our salvation is in doubt.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Anglican Province of America


Please join us at Saint Barnabas Church Dunwoody on Thursdays each week after the 7pm Eucharist for a new six-week course on the heresies condemned by the Seven Ecumenical Councils. What does the orthodox and catholic Faith teach on these matters?

We should be very careful to avoid any sense in which we might inadvertently imply that Our Lord was adopted as the Son of God by the Father - and that we are not therefore different from Christ in nature or kind, but only degree. Early adoptionists and the Arians held the view that Christ was different from us only in degree, for Our Lord was a created being adopted and loved by God, to whom God imputed divine status and adoption. The Christ of the Arians was thus deuteros theos, a second God, or a God by grace and in name only. But that, of course, is what we are by theosis - adopted by God to 'be God' in a relative and secondary sense, by grace and adoption (II Peter 2.4, Saint John 10.33-38). Jaroslav Pelikan and John Henry Newman both remind us that the Arian Christ takes the place of the Orthodox Catholic Mary - that for the Arians, Christ, a created being made perfect by divine grace, replaces the role that God has in fact reserved to Mary, the first human hypostasis fully to receive divinisation. We should make it clear that Christ is the Son of the Father in nature, being and essence, consubstantial with the Father, and that we live as Christ only because we share Our Lord's divine sonship through justification and grace only. 
Arianism, like one form of protestantism, was essentially the rationalizing spirit -- the inability to accept or see things beyond reason. - Hillaire Belloc

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Church of England Postpones Bishopesses

Final approval of the legislation to allow women to become 'bishops' in the Church of England was defeated by the General Synod today, because the vote in the House of Laity was less than the necessary two-thirds majority.
The main motion before Synod was
That the Measure entitled 'Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure' be finally approved.
and this required a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each of the three houses. [Abstentions are counted but not included in the calculation.] The votes were:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Year-Ending and Year-Beginning

For our reflection as we embark on a new year of grace and salvation, and as we celebrate the Mystery of the Incarnation, Nativity and Manifestation of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ! Saint Barnabas has grown in remarkable and inspirational ways since its inception on 11th June 1979 – we celebrated this year our 33rd Anniversary and we note with thanksgiving to Almighty God what He has done in our midst. Beginning with rented space and a small faithful group of people, today Saint Barnabas has its new building complex and an official membership of 487 people. The actual number is higher, for many have not officially registered with the parish. Please do register your membership with the parish office if you have never done so before! Since 2008 we have grown 24% in membership. We are moving to a new level spiritually and numerically, as we have progressed from being a small parish to a larger parish. Saint Barnabas is one of the top five of the largest Continuing Churches in North America and one of the largest in the southeastern United States. We remain in the midst of a critical time of growth and expansion. I want to turn our gaze to what lies ahead and what opportunities exist for our future ministry and service. We are definitely entering the next phase of the life and witness of Saint Barnabas Church, and today we begin to look afresh at the challenges before us. A true axiom is that a Church that is not growing is dying; a Church can do only one of two things, move forward or fall behind. We are definitely growing, and we are called to keep up the momentum. The membership growth of our parish has in recent years been so significant that the time has come to evaluate that growth and develop a new plan for our future together.

In September 2012, the new ‘Planning for Growth’ Committee of Saint Barnabas chaired by Rette Ledbetter first met to begin its work on behalf of the parish: as our Church continues to grow in spiritual formation and membership, we are planning for the future! We have a fantastic collection of volunteers for this committee. We shall in the coming weeks and months create a strategic vision and plan for future development. We shall consider our needs for building space and facilities; yes, we need more space, for Sunday school, Christian education, social events, music, administration, and so forth. The time is soon coming when we shall need to contemplate another building programme. We are running out of room, a great problem to have! But we shall also consider how best to use our current resources and abilities to accommodate our increasing needs and challenges. Our strategic plan will not only consider our physical plant requirements, but most importantly, it will identify those areas of spiritual, pastoral, ministerial and theological growth which call for greater attention and the creation of new ways to address them. Saint Barnabas is graduating to a new stage in our corporate life together. Please watch our publications in the coming months for news of our progress and proposals to come.

The youth are our future, the future of the parish and of the Church at large. We have established and expanded our youth ministry, especially ministry to teenagers and young adults. In time we hope to expand our Sunday school classes as the anticipated need demands. We should make this expansion a priority for future service. Associated with the concern for greater opportunities for youth ministry is the need to increase the involvement of younger families in every aspect of Church life. To this end, we hope to see more social events geared toward younger families in the months ahead. Greater participation and involvement of young families will propel our efforts to see more Christian education and formation programmes for the young fill up. On a related note, I have been appointed director of the Diocesan summer camp, the Anglican Life Adventure Camp, in North Carolina! More information on that to come…

We continue our mission to support charitable work throughout the Church and the world; the Pregnancy Resources of Doraville, the Anglican Church in the Philippines, the Anglican Church in Haiti, the Norcross Cooperative Ministry, the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs Community Assistance Centre, the APA Dalit School in India operated by Operation Mobilisation, and Saint Peter’s Church in Nigeria have all been beneficiaries of our mission ministry. We continue in-house voluntary work at the Cooperative Ministry, PROD and the Assistance Centre as part of our outreach. May our future goal be a more vigorous, active and visible participation in these and other outreach ministries. Let us strive to obtain more personal involvement and interaction with outreach ministry – it would be wonderful if we could in the future boast that 10%, 20% or 30% of our membership were personally volunteering in the service of others. We need volunteers to join with us, and we ask you today to consider giving of yourself, your time, talent and energy to the service of those in need, those around us in our community. Ministry, service, the love of Christ in action, belongs not just to clergy or to a specialised group of lay-people, it belongs to all of us, to every baptised person. The early days of the Continuing Church understandably saw a concern and a need to preserve our heritage and to defend the catholic and orthodox faith. That focus was and is certainly right. But our parish, and the Continuing Church as a whole, has now matured and grown to the stage where our focus should not be solely inward, but outward. The authenticity of a Church is revealed by how she ministers to others outside the Church in the Name of Christ. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Please join us in the exhilarating newer phase of our life as a parish family. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. As the great 20th century Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, declared:  The Church is the only organisation that exists for the wellbeing and fraternity of its non-members.'

The Year of Grace 2013 will be a rousing year for our parish as we look to the future, just as 2012 has been a year truly filled with God’s graces and blessings. May the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Lord, the true God born of Mary, bless and keep you all during this holy season!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ecclesiastical Secession in South Carolina

On Saturday, November 17, 2012, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina met in Special Convention at the 'mother church of the Diocese,' historic Saint Philip’s Church in Charleston.  There, an overwhelming majority passed three resolutions....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anglican Church of Saint George Installs New Rector

The Rev. Paul Rivard (second from right) has been installed as the new rector at Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr, in Simpsonville.

With a large gathering of members and friends of the Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr, the Rev. Paul A. Rivard was installed this past weekend as the church’s new Rector, the church announced. 

The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, Presiding Bishop, Anglican Province of America, presided. The Rev. William Martin, of Mills River, NC, and the Rev. Peter Geromel (Diocese of the Holy Cross), in Landrum, SC, assisted during the service. Other APA clergy as well as friends and family of Rivard were also in attendance.

Rivard is a 2010 graduate of Erskine Theological Seminary, located in Due West, S.C. He was previously a Curate at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody, Ga.  His wife, Sarah, and their 4 children reside in Greenville.

As Rector, Rivard will shepherd the congregation of St. George as it reaches out to help area communities in times of need and "to spread the good news to the un-churched," the church said in a release.  

The Parish has strong community outreach and foreign missions teams, as well as Bible studies and Sunday School classes for all ages, with Sunday services at 10 a.m. and weekday services as scheduled to celebrate Church seasons and Feast Days, the church noted.

The Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr welcomes visitors and is located at 427 Batesville Rd., Simpsonville.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk congratulates newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,
I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.
You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 15th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.
Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.
We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.
I wish you God’s help in your important work.
‘May the God of love and peace be with you’ (2 Cor. 13:11).
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

Monday, November 12, 2012

Not Fit For Purpose

Women Bishops Legislation: Not Fit For Purpose - A briefing by members of the Conservative Evangelical and Catholic groupings in the General Synod of the Church of England.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Archbishop Justin Welby

The Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, has been appointed the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop-designate strongly supports the purported ordination of women and is pressing for the admission of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, and yet has opposed until now purported homosexual marriage, a profoundly inconsistent position.

It appears that his theological outlook may be loosely defined as liberal evangelicalism or evangelical modernism, an emphasis on personal conversion and faith and contemporary popular-culture based worship styles over received consensus, historic liturgy and sacraments and Sacred Tradition. 

Christian orthodoxy has never been in a process of 'reception' concerning the ordination of women and is unprepared to admit that the universal Church has erred or been misguided about something as important to the Gospel as the sacramental essence of the Church and her Apostolic Ministry instituted by Jesus Christ. For Traditional Anglicans, as for the Patriarchates of East and West, the maleness of Holy Orders is a settled issue because it is a dogmatic truth revealed by God in Scripture and Tradition. Women's ordination, for this reason, has been a church-dividing issue and is not a second-tier concern or problem.

The purported ordination of women and the blessing of purported marriages of persons of the same sex are hermeneutically inseparable: they are both constitutive of the religion of pansexual inclusivism, a gnostic anti-material assertion of human autonomy in which one may indulge any desire no matter what Scripture or Tradition or natural law may dictate. This radical humanism/secularism began in earnest in 1970's and 1980's when a number of bodies in the Anglican Communion abandoned the clear Scriptural, Apostolic, patristic and traditional dogma regarding the Sacrament of Holy Orders and permitted, contrary to universal and biblical teaching, the purported ordination of women. Today we see that the creation of a new synthetic system of marriage is the direct result of the creation of the new synthetic priesthood. Those religious organisations which follow in the same path believe themselves masters over the sacraments, and therefore masters over the created order sanctified by the sacraments, free by fiat to change what God has created, redeemed and revealed. The Church of England has followed this path.

Purported women's ordination and homosexualism share the same flawed interpretation of Holy Scripture, or biblical hermeneutic, a modern historical-critical revisionist approach to the Scriptures. Both are based on the same reading and interpretation of the Bible, as both undermine the basic anthropological revelation concerning the nature of God, Man and the Church contained in the Word of God. Both doctrines are equally heresies of the Christological and anthropological order.

Let us pray earnestly for Bishop Welby as he begins his new ministry, and let us pray for the restoration of the Church of England.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

His Holiness Tawadros II

Congratulations to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the ancient Church of the Egyptians founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist, upon the election of His Holiness Tawadros IIPope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle that is, in EgyptPentapolisLibyaNubiaSudanEthiopiaEritrea and all Africa, 118th in succession to Saint Mark.

For Anglicans, the most recent advance in relations with the Oriental Orthodox Churches is our Agreed Statement on Christology reached by the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission, November 2002:

  1. We confess that our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God who became incarnate and was made human in the fullness of time, for us and for our salvation. God the Son incarnate, perfect in His divinity and perfect in His humanity, consubstantial with the Father according to His divinity and consubstantial with us according to His humanity. For a union has been made of two natures. For this cause we confess one Christ, one Son and one Lord. [Based on the Formula of Re-union, AD 433].

  2. Following the teaching of our common father Saint Cyril of Alexandria we can confess together that in the one incarnate nature of the Word of God, two different natures continue to exist without separation, without division, without change, and without confusion.

  3. In accordance with this sense of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be Theotokos, because God the Word became incarnate and was made man, and from the very conception united to himself that perfect humanity, without sin, which he took from her. As to the expressions concerning the Lord in the Gospel and in the Epistles, we are aware that theologians understand some in a general way as relating to one person, and others they distinguish, as relating to two natures, explaining those that befit the divine nature according to the divinity of Christ, and those of a humble sort according to his humanity. [Based on the Formula of Re-union, AD 433].

  4. Concerning the four adverbs used to qualify the mystery of the hypostatic union: "without commingling" (or confusion) (asyngchtos), "without change" (atreptos), "without separation" (achoristos), and "without division" (adiairetos), those among us who speak of two natures in Christ are justified in doing so since they do not thereby deny their inseparable indivisible union: similarly, those among us who speak of one incarnate nature of the Word of God are justified in doing so since they do not thereby deny the continuing dynamic presence in Christ of the divine and the human, without change, without confusion. We recognize the limit of all theological language and the philosophical terminology of which it makes and has made use. We are unable to net and confine the mystery of God's utter self-giving in the incarnation of the divine Word in an ineffable, inexpressible and mysterious union of divinity and humanity, which we worship and adore.

  5. Both sides agree in rejecting the teaching which separates or divides the human nature, both soul and body in Christ, from his divine nature, or reduces the union of the natures to the level of conjoining and limiting the union to the union of persons and thereby denying that the person of Jesus Christ is a single person of God the Word. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NRSV). Both sides also agree in rejecting the teaching which confuses the human nature in Christ with the divine nature so that the former is absorbed in the latter and thus ceases to exist. Consequently, we reject both the Nestorian and the Eutychian heresies.

  6. In the Anglican tradition in the 16th century Richard Hooker witnesses to the continuing relevance of these concerns. In the fifth book of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, section 5e, he emphasizes the necessary mystery of the person in Christ. "It is not man's ability either to express perfectly or to conceive the manner how (the incarnation) was brought to pass." "In Christ the verity of God and the complete substance of man were with full agreement established throughout the world, until the time of Nestorius." The church, Hooker contends, rightly repudiated any division in the person of Christ. "Christ is a Person both divine and human, howbeit not therefore two persons in one, neither both these in one sense, but a person divine because he is personally the Son of God, human, because he hath really the nature of the children of men." (Laws 52.3) "Whereupon it followeth against Nestorius, that no person was born of the Virgin but the Son of God, no person but the Son of God baptized, the Son of God condemned, the Son of God and no other person crucified; which one only point of Christian belief, the infinite worth of the Son of God, is the very ground of all things believed concerning life and salvation by that which Christ either did or suffered as man in our belief." (Laws, 52.3). In the following consideration of the teaching of St Cyril, Hooker maintains, both the importance of St Cyril's insistence on the unity of the person of Christ while repudiating any Eutychian interpretation of that unity. Hooker quotes with approval Cyril's letter to Nestorius: "His two natures have knit themselves the one to the other, and are in that nearness as uncapable of confusion as of distraction. Their coherence hath not taken away the difference between them. Flesh is not become God but doth still continue flesh, although it be now the flesh of God." (q. Laws 53.2).

  7. We agree that God the Word became incarnate by uniting to His divine uncreated nature with its natural will and energy, created human nature with its natural will and energy. The union of natures is natural, hypostatic, real and perfect. The natures are distinguished in our mind in thought alone. He who wills and acts is always the one hypostasis of the Logos incarnate with one personal will. In the Armenian tradition in the 12th century st. Nerses the Graceful (Shenorhali) writes: "We do not think that the divine will opposes the human will and vice versa. We do not think either that the will of the one nature was different at different times, sometimes the will was divine, when He wanted to show His divine power, and sometimes it was human, when He wanted to show human humilty."

  8. The perfect union of divinity and of humanity in the incarnate Word is essential to the salvation of the human race. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16 NRSV). The Son of God emptied himself and became human, absolutely free from sin, in order to transform our sinful humanity to the image of His holiness. This is the Gospel we are called to live and proclaim.

  9. We also note the concerns of the Oriental Orthodox Churches about the Christology of the Assyrian Church of the East as expressed in its official and unofficial dialogues with other churches. A particular concern of the Oriental Orthodox is that the Assyrians consider the persons and teachings of Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius as orthodox and thus venerate them in the liturgies of their church.

    The Oriental Orthodox concerns were also addressed specifically to the report of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which made reference to the consent made towards the Christology of the Assyrian Church, based on the Lambeth Conference of 1908 and 1920 reports and resolutions 08.63/64 and 21. We have noticed that the report of the Lambeth Conference of 1930 was not addressed in 1998. While the Eastern Churches Committee of the Church of England did preliminary Christological work between 1908 and 1912 both in relation to the Oriental Orthodox Churches and to the Assyrian Church, this work was never brought to an agreed statement on Christology. With reference to the Assyrian Church, the 1930 Lambeth Conference reported "It has not been possible, owing to political and other conditions, to obtain the authoritative statement recommended in 1920 as to whether or not the present ecclesiastical authorities in the Assyrian Church adhere to the position of 1911". The Anglicans are therefore asking the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER) to take into account these Oriental Orthodox theological reservations in any further Christological work with the Assyrian Church of the East, which, in accordance with the Lambeth Conference Resolution of 1998, will be in local and regional discussions. The result of any such discussions will have to be evaluated by IASCER and any future Lambeth Conference, in the light of this Christological agreement.

  10. We submit this statement to the authorities of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion for their consideration and action.

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -