Tag Archives: analysis

‘A Conflict of Beliefs’ — a bad document for Orthodox Anglicans and differences with The Episcopal Church

Update: See this post about the leader of a Bible-based cult who was given two consecutive life sentences in Durham, N.C., on July 5, 2013.

Sustain your “Orthodox Anglican” identity by embracing Bible-thumping primitivism.

Ignore each chance for thoughtful engagement and instead force the false choice of heretical liberalism or fundamentalist quote-mongering.

I want to explain why these are the take-away lessons from the document entitled “A Conflict of Beliefs: Orthodox Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church.”

(The document isn’t especially new, although it was recently given some renewed exposure by someone in my county. I find the underlying lack-of-thinking especially annoying.)

Read the document, linked above, or briefly revisit it. Consider the possible reasons why The Episcopal Church leaders make some of their statements. Then, consider these brief points:

1. Scholarship — yea, even conservative, traditionalist scholarship — has illuminated and contextualized books of the Holy Bible and its (human) writers. “A Conflict of Beliefs” pits liberal, progressive, yea even heretical scholarly views against the primary source material.

In other words, the document is a comparison of apples to apple fritters and apple tarts and artificially-flavored-10-percent-real-fruit-deep-fried-pre-packaged apple pie snacks.

Why not answer scholars with scholars? Because the Bible is adequate? Sure it is — read No. 2.

2. Snake-handlers in the Appalachians support their practice with Scripture, with Biblical authority, taking the language in its plainest sense and applying it to their lives. What does that have to do with “A Conflict of Beliefs”? Well, having gone to various types of Christian schools and churches my entire life, I would like to testify that snake-handlers have everything to do with the silliness behind “A Conflict of Beliefs.” That’s because in less audacious areas of life, evangelicals (and “Orthodox Anglicans”?) do the same types of things based on the same near-drought levels of Scriptural warrant, and encourage others to do so, too. Should the snake-handlers interpret things differently? Really? So you’re making an interpretive move against the plain sense of Scripture? Kind of like The Episcopal Church leadership quoted in “A Conflict of Beliefs”? Sure, it’s not the same thing, is it?

So why not provide some context from contemporary scholars or theologians — pick your favorite seminary, heck, pick your favorite Presbyterian — who can use context and explanation for “Orthodox Anglican” views? 

By the way, the Appalachian snake-handlers are not fully compliant with Luke 10:19, which in the New International Version reads, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” I’m not sure if snake-handlers trample on snakes, but at least they’ve obtained the means for obedience. But I’ve never seen or heard of them messing with scorpions. Perhaps grace-filled living would spur me to realize scorpions don’t live in the Appalachians.

3. Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus (Luke 4:9-11). Satan encouraged Jesus to take the Scriptures authoritatively. How funny that the only thing “A Conflict of Beliefs” encourages us to do is to follow Satan’s lead, with only three brief exceptions of the 39 Articles and a quotation from an ex-Episcopalian minister. Honestly, the inclusion of the 39 Articles and the minister’s quotation seem out of place — they aren’t Bible verses! After so many Bible verses, who even needs the 39 Articles or the minister?

For that matter, who needs anything in the Book of Common Prayer? Who needs any commentaries? Who needs any scholarship? Who needs any sermons or homilies? Who needs a Bible dictionary or a concordance?

These things just get in the way of Bible-thumping primitivism.

And let’s face it. Once you’ve made liberalism and liberals the target, you can use the Bible to usher-in all kinds of not-liberalism. The Bible can say anything you want it to say, and I guess that’s fine by “Orthodox Anglicans.”

Knowledge-worker productivity

Paul Reiser of "Mad About You" at 20...Paul Reiser once said historians will one day record that our cities were built as construction workers stood around and whistled at women — and the buildings just appeared.

Now I realize how “knowledge workers” get their tasks done. They sit in meetings, and books are written, reports are filed, youth are educated, projects are planned — just like that, as if the pressure between the posterior and the chair yields paper print-outs and computer codes.

‘The dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking rich’

“The rich are a class of clones, an elite cabal of likeminded individuals, an assembly bonded in groupthink, a gaggle of Republican gangsters. Therefore, George Soros isn’t rich.” Read the rest here.

Cautionary note on the use of the word ‘secularism’

Some people seem to use “secular” or “secularism” to describe some aspects of governmental, political, and cultural institutions that scare them. But those same people have no concerns about using various social, political, and technological instruments that represent the bluntest ends of worldliness.

Four Ways to Celebrate Reformation Day

As always, Reformation Day coincides with Halloween. But as our Catholic brothers and sisters know, Christian celebrations and leftover paganism work together quite well.

Here are some thoughts on how to wed Halloween and Reformation Day.

1. Instead of playing Ring-and-Run, try Nail-and-Run.

You remember the old ring-and-run trick: sneak up to someone’s doorstep, ring her doorbell, run, hide, and watch the hapless lady of the house come to the door and look around.

To celebrate Reformation Day, take a page from Martin Luther.

Instead of ringing the doorbell and running away, nail some profound thoughts to the door and then run away.

2. Give Reese’s Theses to trick-or-treaters.

Using your home printer and PhotoShop, recreate the Reese’s Pieces bag as Reese’s Theses.

Now open a few bags of Reese’s Pieces. Count out 95 candies and insert them in a Reese’s Theses bag. Seal and set by the front door.

Image how cool it will be if someone comes to the door dressed like the Pope.

3. This year, try the un-costume

As many Protestants believe today, robes and mantels and cassocks are all Romish trappings.

Roman Catholic priests wear these offensive costumes of robes as a statement against justification by faith.

There is only one fully adequate, completely satisfactory act of defiance in the face of these vestments.

You guessed it. You must dis-robe. You can’t be justified by boxers — or briefs.

4. Instead of handing out evangelistic tracts, preach sound theology.

When you hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, tell them, “This is an example of unmerited favor.”
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Happy Reformation Day! Happy Halloween!

A parable of a Biblical Literalist & an Ordinary Man

Unfortunately, I have been in conversations and have overheard conversations much like the fictitious one rendered below. Of course, in writing this parable, I’m chosing a certain type of example to make a subtle, common problem more obvious.

Two men are walking along a path in a city park during the late morning hours. It is a sunny, cool autumn day, and the moon is still visible in the blue sky.

Ordinary man: Wow. I think the moon becomes more beautiful when the seasons change.

Biblical literalist: The moon is beautiful. The Bible says God made “the lesser light to govern the night.” I enjoy taking nighttime walks, too!

Ordinary man: Yes, me too. And look at it right now. Isn’t that great?

Biblical literalist: You can’t see the moon right now.

Ordinary man: Yes, you can. Look!

Biblical literalist: No, you can’t see the moon right now. The Scriptures say God made “the lesser light to govern the night.” Now, is it nighttime right now?

Ordinary man: Well, no, but —

Biblical literalist: The Scriptures also say God made “the greater light to govern the day.” Is it daytime right now, buddy?

Ordinary man: Of course, but —

Biblical literalist: Is the greater light shining this fine morning?

Ordinary man: Obviously, but I —

Biblical literalist: Well, then, the moon can’t be visible now.

Ordinary man: Oh my. Have a good morning. I gotta go.

Biblical literalist: Some people just don’t trust the plain teaching of the Scriptures.

Everything about our witness to the watching world is compromised if we treat the Scriptures as a darkened room into which we must walk.

Bishop Lawrence: ‘Making Biblical Anglicans…’

Bishop Mark Lawrence said the vision for the (Episcopal) Diocese of South Carolina should be, “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.”

Bishop Lawrence was speaking at the 218th Convention of the diocese at Christ Episcopal in Mount Pleasant.

He also said, for now, based on the diocesan constitution, the Diocese of S.C. should remain in The Episcopal Church. He also said there are still benefits to traveling along with the national church.

Several U.S. Episcopal churches have re-aligned themselves with Anglican provinces overseas because, in recent decades, many bishops and priests in The Episcopal Church U.S.A. have articulated radical departures from historical teachings on the Incarnation, the Trinity, and sorteriology.

People who choose to be Christians tend to find these historical teachings valuable, regardless of what their leadership might decide is more important.

However, journalists in most media outlets do not understand controversies related to theological and doctrinal formulations and therefore have decided to focus on Episcopalian debates regarding human sexuality. That way, the journalists don’t have to think too hard, and they can push the hot button.

I add this commentary as a current member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Book Critics Circle, and the Committee of Concerned Journalists.