Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Those who just don't get it" … Indeed!

Somewhere in Michigan, there's an Episcopal priest who, methinks, needs to spend just a wee bit more time with his Book of Common Prayer. It seems he saw and takes grave exception to the statement from The Episcopal Majority that was quoted in a recent ENS story.

Here's the full posting of this blogger who calls himself StJohnsPriest:

Quote from those who just don't get it....

Being a bishop is all about theology. They are to uphold the faith of the Church! Yet here is a quote from a group in the Episcopal Church that just doesn't get it. It is from an Episcopal News Service article.

Episcopal Majority describes itself as a “grassroots organization committed to the values and vitality of The Episcopal Church and working to neutralize the negative influence of the American Anglican Council (AAC), the Anglican Communion Network (ACN), and related groups.”

The group’s statement also noted, “There should be no ‘litmus tests’ for theology – no ‘litmus tests’ at all, beyond those already established in our canons and Book of Common Prayer.

Of course, no mention of the standards of SCRIPTURE, which involves THEOLOGY, which is the STUDY OF GOD!

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for these folks....

If he allowed comments on his blog, I would have made a comment there, but he doesn't, so I'll say my piece here.

I'm not sure what prayer book he uses, but here are the things that are in my BCP:

  • the Decalogue, the Psalms, and a great deal of Scripture spread throughout our liturgies
  • the Catechism (or Outline of the Faith), which specifies our fundamental theology and teachings
  • the Apostles Creed, which outlines our fundamental theology
  • the Nicene Creed, which outlines our fundamental theology
  • liturgies for baptism, the daily office, Holy Eucharist, pastoral offices (confirmation, marriage, penitence, burial, etc.), episcopal services (ordination and so on), and some of the richest prayers ever written in the English language [pp. 810ff] – all of which reflect and reinforce our theology and our understanding of God
I have participated in all these and can do so without crossing my fingers, even if I must confess that (like many Episcopalians) there are parts – and sometimes different ones in different seasons of my life – that make me wonder, "How can that be?"

As The Episcopal Majority statement said quite clearly, the only litmus tests for theology should be those "already established in our canons and Book of Common Prayer." The theology deeply embedded in our prayer book should be the "litmus test" for the election and consecration of a bishop. And the other litmus test should be a declared conformity to the canons of our church.

Now … what part of that does StJohnsPriest fail to grasp? By citing the Book of Common Prayer, the Episcopal Majority statement already encompasses the standards of Scripture and the core theology which undergird our faith.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if the Canons of the Episcopal Church are wrong? Just because a Church creates a Canon by which those in the church must adhere to, does not make the Canon a good one or a right one - it simply makes it a lawful one. General Convention may one day say that 15 year olds may become priests. This then becomes a Canon, and is thus part of church law. This process says nothing about whether it is right, true or godly to make teenagers priests. The Canons of the Episcopal Church are yet to be confirmed as good - that will only happen when we are before the Lord and he judges whether our man made laws of the church were good or bad, a hinderance or a help, heresy or Christ honoring.


3/19/2007 1:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Andy, without a doubt, there are surely parts of our canons that are wrong. There always have been parts that were wrong. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been amending them from time to time over the past 2+ centuries. But -- for better or worse -- these are our canons. If one doesn't wish to "bend the knee" to them, that's fine; but then one should not seek ordination or consecration within this church.

Our canons and our Book of Common Prayer are the fence we have built around "what it means to be an Episcopalian. Other churches have established different boundaries -- most of them much more confessional than ours.

I remind you, though, that my major point in my posting was that "StJohnsPriest" and others are just wrong when they say we're not talking about theology and scripture when we insist on our prayer book as one of the lynchpins of what it means to be an Episcopalian.

The prayer book is rooted in scripture and defines our theology. The canons define our polity. Both are important.

At least that's how it seems to me.

3/19/2007 7:08 PM  

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