Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who is in charge?

One aspect of the gospel for this time in Christchurch rumbling in my mind is that the gospel is the announcement of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. N. T. Wright (as I understand him) in recent times has been pushing this understanding. The sermons in Acts often say little about what (say) evangelicals have emphasised in the last few centuries, the gospel is about grace and forgiveness, but do a lot of announcing: God said through the prophets that his anointed would come, he has come, Jesus is the Christ, this Christ is - contrary to Roman ideology - Lord. Essentially this is what Romans is about: Jesus is Lord and the gospel is announcing that with power in order to bring Gentiles into obedience alongside the Jews (the ones who are also obedient). Or so I understand Wright.

That there is something very important to reckon with here about the gospel is obvious, not because of Wright's scholarly brilliance, but because of the preaching of Jesus himself. What was the preaching of the kingdom of God but an announcement that God reigns - despite signs otherwise, God really is in charge of the world. As time went by the power of Jesus to produce signs of that reign, culminating in the sign of the resurrection itself, disclosed to his followers that Jesus was identified with God in reigning. Thus, "Jesus is Lord" was the great confession of the church whether responding to Paul's or another expression of the gospel.

For Christchurch, in the midst of death, destruction, and (increasingly these days) despair, it is good news that God is in charge, Jesus is Lord. A tad difficult to believe, but an important gospel fact nevertheless. The earthquakes are not in charge of us and our future: God in Jesus Christ is boss.

Last night was a challenge to faith in this God, incidentally: a hefty 5.3 at 10.34 pm, just prior to going to bed, and then a whole series through the night, including a 4.4 at 3.28 am which woke us up. A cheeky friend texted me at 11.03 pm asking if I still had an office. I shall check soon. Not to worry if I don't. Neither did the Son of Man who has graciously called me to follow him without pack, blanket or jacket.

Who is in charge? is also a good Anglican question. I notice a brilliant post on Catholicity and Covenant which explores Anglicanism's original sin.

(Reformulated from original post). That 'original sin' (i.e. original to the 16th century re-forming of the Church of England) was its joining the right to make a local decision about divorce the marital status of its then Sovereign to the re-establishment of a national church (through releasing itself from its international commitment to a Roman-led West European church). This re-establishment (like a series of aftershocks) rumbles through the Communion to this day in the form of the right to autonomy being invoked on matters which undermine the catholicity the Reformers retained, 'catholicity' here meaning our common doctrine, specifically in our day concerning our doctrine on marriage and holiness of life for the ordained. This 'catholicity' has been under threat for some decades, including on the matter of marriage as Western churches have grappled with the issue of divorce and remarriage. The last decade, arguably, has been a salutary reminder that catholicity is the essential principle of attempting to be a communion and not an association. The more we have asserted the right to autonomy to include the right to self-determine doctrine the more fragmented we have become, and thus the less appropriate it has been to retain the term 'Communion' in our global self-description.

That is, our Communion troubles are related to our Canterbury (NZ) challenges: what is the gospel? If the gospel is "Jesus is Lord" then we might expect the Communion to be more rather than less united under its single leader.


Anonymous said...

Greetings Peter,

I think we cannot be sure that the Son of Man didn’t have an office. The direct reading of the text would have his having a home in Capernaum, which certainly appears to have functioned as a headquarters and central planning place for his movement.

You can find scholarship that would have builders as being middle class, and others that would have them poorer than poor – with him simply a labourer in the class that had even lost its land. Similarly, you can find scholarship that insists on his high education and reading standard, and others that it’s unlikely he could read.

As to Anglicans continuing the RC creation myth of how the CofE came to be. Please don’t. The English Reformation had nothing to do with a divorce. Charles couldn’t marry Camilla in the CofE because she is divorced. As to your continuing to use the word “catholicity” in its Roman/international church version – well we’ve talked enough about that. It appears to continue your default meaning, without the alternative getting even a bracketed allusion.



Brother David said...

and others that it’s unlikely he could read.

Sorry, I could not resist!

It would seem that Luke 4:16 would put the lie to that claim, because the passage says that he stood up to read. What fool who cannot read would stand up to read?

Brother David said...

Peter, becasue you are so hung up on the name of the AC and the word communion, I am now inclined to accept that the founders of the AC were in error. They should have picked a different word for the name, because the definition of a communion was clearly not what they intended us to be. We are a grouping of autonomous, self-governing, regional and national churches. That is what we have always been and that is what many of us wish to remain. So rename us if you must; Anglican Federation, Anglican Confederation, Anglican Fellowship, Anglican Confraternity, Anglican whatever.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks for your reflection this morning, Peter. Having shared the experience of yet another disturbed night in Christchurch, one can only reiterate the fact that, in a disordered world (such as we are still experiencing) Jesus is still 'Lord' - and it is to Him we bow, not necessarily to the Princes of the Church - whether of Canterbury (U.K.) or of Rome.

According to tradition, the Gospel has gone out to and through "ALL the Churches" not just 1 of them.
Our unity in in Christ Jesus - not just 'The Church'.

Bryden Black said...

Indeed; many thanks Peter for this emphasis as how the 1st C would have heard the word “Gospel”, especially in its Roman address. BTW: those who are using the lectionary and RCL - those set readings organized for use Sunday by Sunday - will be into Romans for quite a while; brilliant stuff!

One of the troubles is the difficulty we have of seeing with clarity those equivalent “gospels unto salvation” (Rom 1:16b) from our own day. For Caesar, with his capital in Rome, had a very clear understanding and practice of “power” and “salvation” and “gospel”, over against which Paul’s entire Letter stands. Nor do we need necessarily to import the whole argument from 1 Cor 1 - 4 & 2 Cor to appreciate the kind of Way Messiah exercises his Lordship, in contrast to Caesar’s, in Romans - though the Corinthian correspondence surely resonates especially well. Messiah Jesus’ rule ‘allows for’ the “groaning” of this age/creation apparently, like last night’s jolly effort, again apparently because God ain’t finished yet! So Romans 8. However, integrating such a macro view of things in the second half of that chapter, with the first half’s greater emphasis on individual persons as well, might have to continue to speak into “Anglican Theology” in order to make it more genuinely comprehensive ...

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for comments. Some attempt at clarification in response to Bosco's comment:

Yes, the original establishment of the church in England preceded the English Reformation by 1500 or so years. But the establishment of the Church of England with specific self-reference as a national church (cf. 39A) separating itself from membership of the international church led by the Bishop of Rome was enacted through a series of Acts of Parliament in the 1530s. To that establishment I refer. This set of Acts was set in motion by the need, international means and appeals having failed, to make a local decision granting Henry's divorce. This particular part of the re-forming of the C of E had everything to do with Henry's troubles. Subsequent re-formation had nothing to do with it, but conveniently worked from the separation enacted by parliament.

By 'catholicity' here I mean that commitment to believing as much as possible of what other Christians believe, in Western Christianity, that is a considerable sharing of doctrine between Protestants, Anglicans and Romans. Minus the filioque clause and one or two other points, that considerable sharing includes Eastern Christianity.

Anonymous said...

David is of course correct - here. (Ay caramba! yo soy de acuerdo con David!)
Jews have always had a high level of literacy - comes from being the people of the Book and taking the injunctions of Deuteronomy ('Teach your children this.. write this on your doorpost..')seriously. For a scholarly insight into first century literacy, see the excellent little book by Alan Millard, former professor of Hebrew at Liverpool University, called 'Reading and Writing in the time of Jesus' (or something like that), which groups together all the data of 'ordinary' reading and writing (i.e. of ordinary folks, not scribes and scholars, note-taking on ostraka etc) from the period. The significance of his finding for gospel studies is to bolster the case for the contemporaneous nature of the synoptic (and Johannine) materials.
The historical pedant in me likes to point out that Henry VIII was in fact never "divorced"; the four marriages he found inconvenient were all annulled, not dissolved, because Henry, remember, was a good Catholic to the end; the Defender of the Faith, in fact.
There were weightier, underlying issues that drove England and rome apart: already in the late 14th century the 'Morning Star' Wycliffe and then the Lollards rejected transubstantiation and clerical abuse, and Luther's ideas had made their way far into the universities and beyond, not least through Tyndale.

Keeping you daily in prayer as you witness to the Gospel in Christchurch.

liturgy said...

David, you and I of course know that every verse in the Bible is absolutely historically accurate; some scholars appear not to have our assurance. ;-)

Peter, you continue to support a CofE creation myth that has no basis in history (it is not even taught in the RC NZ NCEA textbook nor is it the version in Catholicity and Covenant you link to) and ignore my point that your suggestion of it having to do with divorce is totally refuted by the ongoing attitude to divorce as I highlighted in the case of Charles and Camilla.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
Either I am completely wrong, or we are talking at cross-purposes.

I would be interested in the answers to the following questions, whether from you or other commenters here.

(1) Setting aside various rumblings through the preceding centuries, what was the beginning point to the English Reformation in the 16th century?

(2) Henry VIII had a desire to see his first marriage ended. Did this desire lead to any action which had any bearing on the cessation of Roman influence and control over the affairs of the Church of England?

(3) Did the cessation of Roman influence and control over the affairs of the Church of England through three major acts of parliament in the 1530s have any connection to the Reformation of the Church of England?

Looking forward to enlightenment ...!

Anonymous said...

Lo siento - "estoy", no "soy".

Who seriously doubts that Jesus could read? Dan Brown? (Who seriously believes that Dan Brown can write?) "Have you not read....? It is written..."

Peter remarks: "Yes, the original establishment of the church in England preceded the English Reformation by 1500 or so years."

Yes, if you believe the Glastonbury stories of the past (or breathe the Glastonbury air of the present).


liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

Others can respond to your other points. I will only address (2) which is the hub of the point I was making.

From the CofE perspective the answer to your question in (2) is clearly “no”. Henry’s desire to see his first marriage ended led to her execution and had absolutely no bearing on the cessation of Roman influence and control over the affairs of the Church of England.



Peter Carrell said...

So, Bosco, the Wikipedia entry for Catherine of Aragon is quite wrong:

" By 1525 Henry was infatuated with his mistress Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as heiress presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. He sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England's break with the Roman Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgement of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and considered herself, as did most of England and Europe, the King's rightful wife and Queen until her death. Now acknowledged by Henry only as Dowager Princess of Wales, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January 1536."

Was Catherine of Aragon dead through natural causes or execution?

Did Henry's search for a way out of the marriage lead to cessation of Rome's control over the Church of England.

I respond: she died of natural causes; and the search for an end to the marriage did lead to the acts of parliament.

liturgy said...

Peter, I would prefer to be discussing at a slightly deeper level but even at a Wikipedia-level of discussion, your quote from there is quite good and supports my point, not yours. Your construction of the questions to make them fit your creation myth is of the “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” level of validity. The whole point of Henry’s & CofE’s understanding, even at the Wikipedia-level of discussion, is that this was not validly a marriage. It is you who project divorce anachronistically into the creation myth – even Anglicans in NZ have not been allowed to divorce & remarry until very recently and, I’m repeating myself once again, CofE manifestly still doesn’t.



Anonymous said...

Oh dear, Bosco seems to have mixed up Henry's wives. The childhood rhyme goes "Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived"; although it must be pointed out that according to English law, Henry divorced nobody, all his marriages except to Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr being declared annulled - useful info if you want to win a sly bet against someone.
Of course the so-called Henrician Reformation was meant to maintain the Catholic character (as Henry saw it) of the Church in England, but even he put the Bible in English in parish churches. Certainly Mary Tudor didn't think her father a good Catholic, not least for putting away her mother (and possibly making her a bastard) and for robbing the Church of its great estates in the Dissolution of the monasteries, an act she attempted to atone for when she returned England to the True Faith, after her little half-brother Edward had well and truly reformed the Church under Cranmer - who was duly punished by Mary for dissing her mother.

Brother David said...

I have to admit Peter, the story that you have shared from the Wiki, is the one that I recall from Church History.

Do you know why Catherine lived out her life as the Dowager Princess of Wales? Because that was her station prior to Henry being pressured into marrying his older brother's, the Prince of Wales, widow.

Brother David said...

OK, Bosco, I am now getting the point that your concern revolves around the word divorced, as opposed to annulled.

But is not the history of the union, that they originally sought the Vatican's consent to the marriage even though it was forbidden?

It seems a wee bit of a case of having your cake and eating it too.

Bosco, I recommend that you edit the Wiki entry to show the more factual specifics of the history to the situation.

Bryden Black said...

Hi there Bosco! Eavesdropping on your discussion with Peter C and others: a question.

What do you mean by “catholic”? How might you understand the four marks of the creed - assuming you say the creed without crossing your fingers!

Answering this/these questions might help others find a way through this historical and contemporary minefield ...

liturgy said...


Peter Carrell sets his Anglicanism’s original sin within the context of his Anglican creation myth of a divorce – an act of a national church going against scripture and tradition, defying international church authority, and breaking communion. This, he says, rumbles through our Communion’s history – clearly TEC is a significant aftershock; following Peter’s metaphor, a February quake following our September one.

I am saying that Peter’s creation myth is not useful as a myth – it is false. There was no divorce, at least from the CofE/Henry perspective, no going against scripture and tradition.

I do not think, Bryden, that my writing a tome on how I might understand the four marks of the creed will help at this juncture. Remember we had a good discussion about that here in April and my perspective was even used as the main source for a post. As to crossing fingers when affirming, I’m more of a Matt 5:37 kind of guy. Speaking of which, how are your own efforts going to bring your parish into line with the church’s teaching? I do notice that signing on to the “Anglican Covenant” is coming with a lot of finger crossing!



Anonymous said...

Bosco writes: "There was no divorce, at least from the CofE/Henry perspective, no going against scripture and tradition."

But there was from Rome's, which is why Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, was deemed a bastard and excommunicate in 1570 - when she had made it clear she wasn't going to return England to Roman ways. Of course, Rome's response had nothing to do with politics .... :)
As far as Henry was concerned, he WAS the Church of England, so of ocurse there could be "no divorce". But if his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was null and void, how then could Mary have acceded to the throne?
Well, that was a problem for Protestant England. English pragmatism, y'know.
The English reformation wasn't like the Continent. It was much more nearly a top-down affair driven by politicians. And Henry's marital problems were indeed the catalyst, because they broke the political power of Rome over the English Church, allowing Cranmer and others to act as they wished in Edward's reign. The beginnings were nothing as glorious as Luther at the Diet of Worms.
But Catherine of Aragon did keep her head! On this at least you can trust Wikipedia.


Father Ron Smith said...

"Speaking of which, (Bryden) how are your own efforts going to bring your parish into line with the church’s teaching?

I'm all agog with expectation of not having this question answered!

I believe Saint Christopher's is inconsolable that the appointed Vicar is unable to answer the call at this time of seismic disruption.

Peter Carrell said...

For clarification re Ron Smith's last comment:

Bryden Black is Priest-in-Charge of a parish which learned on Sunday that its Vicar-designate, due late August, is not now coming to that parish.

Whether that parish is 'inconsolable' or not is not for me to speculate about. Most of us in Christchurch at the moment are difficult to console!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I have now changed the post so that no false creation myths are involved. As far as I am concerned what is written now responds to your criticism as far as I agree with it, and otherwise concurs with the facts as far as I understand them.

liturgy said...

Thanks, Peter. That reads much better IMO now. I’m sorry to read here about the vicar-designate of St Christopher’s now not coming, for that parish which will remain in my prayers, and also for our diocese which looked to be enriched by someone with particular skills in ethics as a scholarly discipline. In my comment to Bryden I had, of course, no idea of this information. Blessings, Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks, Bosco!

Yes, there were a particular set of skills in view which are lost now, both to that parish and our diocese ... another casualty of the quakes.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Bosco and Ron; your concern for St Christopher’s is touching. I am however rather curious as to what element(s) of “church teaching” either of you might consider to be out of “line”, and so worthy of my attention and specific “efforts” - or that of the bishop, come to think of it (see below!).

By far the grand majority of parishioners recite the Creed in a way that does not echo that of the current Regius Prof of Divinity, Oxford, which is to say (in her words) “loosey - Lucy?! - goosey”. The ordained ministry of word-&-sacrament is conducted according to the BCP 1662 twice a week, the NZPB once a week, and in a slightly abbreviated form of NZPB once a week, given its family orientation. One Sunday @7, being the Youth Service, last month was attended by +VM, who emailed the leader afterwards to congratulate him on his leadership. True; it was an awesome service, with great music, rich sermonising, and solid praying!! She also attended last Sunday’s evening service and had to suffer my own ministrations - without murmur or complaint! So guys; “please explain” - with every nuance and tone of that creature from QLD, Pauline Hanson ...!

As for “consolation’. To be sure; there were some audible gasps last Sunday morning when it was announced at each of the three morning services that the vicar-designate would no longer be coming. And Peter C is correct: this will be a real loss for us all. But by 5:00 pm, when we met for an hour and a half with +VM, who was scheduled to come anyway as part of her tour of diocesan parishes re the earthquakes, folk were restored enough to be engaged and engaging. Some 200 filled the main body of the church, and I noticed many single members of wider families in attendance, who thus represented a far wider number again. Not least, we took the Rev Englishman’s two sermons to us, delivered during his recent visit, as the foundations of our now recollected response(s): “A Way in the Wilderness” (Mk 6), and “Rejoice in the Lord” (Phil 4). Our “courteous Good Lord” (Julian) is ever non-plussed by these kinds of events, or any other event for that matter, such is his Providence and sovereign freedom (witness only the timing of +VM’s scheduled visit!). Yet we certainly need your continued prayers, please, in order that “morning by morning” (Isa 50) we’d hear with clarity, together with The Servant of Yahweh, what might be the steps that would walk down the Father’s purposeful Way now for us. Thanking you in anticipation!

Bryden Black said...

Re other elements of this thread, and more on target. Your addendum/erratum Peter invokes the very reason for my asking Bosco for his understanding of “catholicity”. For it seems to me our ecclesiology is rapidly sliding into a form of International Congregationalism that is light years away from the strivings of a Hooker, so hell-bent are we to reflect our western culture’s sense of autonomy, over against the Church’s necessary interdependence, which the likes of Runcie was so keen to accentuate at Lambeth 1988.

Peter Carrell said...

One might quip, Bryden, that we are so concerned to ensure that no one is in charge (least of all anything that has even 1/1000 semblance of an Anglican pope) that we are unconcerned about the loss of catholicity in the Anglican style and substance of it.

liturgy said...

Possibly all has altered with your being priest in charge, Bryden. I am not going to list all the departures from the formularies, but since you insist on something, last I knew St Christopher’s used shot glasses of grape juice in its communion services not only contrary to the formularies but explicitly emphasised as unacceptable by the current and previous bishop in their teaching roles – most recently in a sermon to the diocesan synod by our current bishop explicitly stressing she said this in her role as bishop, teaching and leading. The practice included architectural alterations so that disks could be brought up to indicate one’s preference – these alterations not having a faculty, as required. As has been noted previously, the Covenant says nothing about sexuality, but quite a bit about liturgy – pro-Covenanters seem to do quite a bit of finger-crossing (using your terminology) when it comes to their vows and promises. As I said above, St Christopher’s continues in my prayers, and I express again my sorrow that the vicar-designate is not coming. Blessings, Bosco

Bryden Black said...

Dear Bosco; you've cited Matt 5:37 - might I mention Matt 23:24 ...?!

BTW: the present Bp knows full well what 'church' stuff goes down; and just may be, acknowledges too what Church remains!

Written with Bruckner's 4th in the background! Enjoy Rom 6!!!

liturgy said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, Bryden.

Lucy said...

re 'shot glasses of grape juice' and similar horrors perpetrated by St Christopher's, and others of their ilk:

I am utterly perplexed and considerably frustrated: why on earth do we care so much about this kind of trivia? Why are we so sure that such things are unanglican, but remain 'wobbly' on so many other topics that actually have substance and reality?
Other than a handful of keen liturgists,(similar to trainspotters in their eclectic hobby, I would suggest) who has any interest at all?

Does it not matter that 100s and 100s of people have come to faith in Christ and/or matured in that faith from churches just like St Chris's?

... and no, I'm not a parishioner. But Bryden, you can send the cheque anytime you like!

Father Ron Smith said...

Individual cups for the Wine of the Eucharist - doesn't sound very Anglican to me - more like the Presbyterians. Does such a thing really happen in an Anglican Church?

Does this strange practice (sic) have anything to do with the fear of 'gay cooties'.

Peter Carrell said...

To Recent Commenters!

(1) Single 'shot glasses' at communion in parishes is customary in some. It may be driven by an influx of non-Anglicans, by (reasonable, medical based) concern about spread of germs (more likely flu germs than anything else), or for other reasons (which I am not aware of).

(2) The question to ask of such practice (in my view) is not whether it is "Anglican" or "unAnglican" but whether it represents a reasonable response to the conditions of our day.

(3) In seeking to answer that question, were I involved in the discussion I would emphasise the importance of considering:

episcopal direction/instruction;
the instructions in our prayer book;
what constitutes "best practice" in the light of our Lord's own institution of his Supper;
what assists appropriate symbolism of our life together as the body of Christ.

(4) It would be appropriate for parishes not to change customs on their own, but to seek a diocesan wide (if not provincial wide) change of custom.

(5) There may be other considerations I have not included here.

liturgy said...

The problem with your anonymous put-down, Lucy, is that it doesn’t really address the actual issue. It is just an emotionalist denigration of something that the Anglican Church actually has thought about, discussed, and come to a common decision about. You are welcome to write to the Bishop of Christchurch that she is one of a handful of keen liturgists and similar to trainspotters in their eclectic hobby when she chose this particular practice to focus on in her Diocesan Synod sermon and stressing that she did so as our bishop in leading and teaching. It is not merely the single-shot glass practice as Peter implies, it is also the use of grape juice. If you struggle to see the problem, Lucy, in your ad hominem approach (and I’m surprised Peter doesn’t highlight the ad hominem nature of your tirade) let me translate it for you: Just replace it with the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, the Chalcedonian understanding of the nature of Christ, the debate here about the nature of marriage, or any other topic dear to some but not to others:

“I am utterly perplexed and considerably frustrated: why on earth do we care so much about this kind of trivia? Why are we so sure that such things are unanglican, but remain 'wobbly' on so many other topics that actually have substance and reality? Other than a handful of keen homophobes/theologians,(similar to trainspotters in their eclectic hobby, I would suggest) who has any interest at all?

Does it not matter that 100s and 100s of people have come to faith in Christ and/or matured in that faith from churches just like St Neonym?”

James said...

I'd suggest that "congregationalism" is a rather normal reflex for parishes in a situation where you have Mr. Cardy more or less broadcasting to the world that St. Matt's distances itself from the Church's teaching on the resurrection. It would be like, in the United States, for the Federal Government trying to call one state out on homologized parking signs while another state's governor had abolished the state's congress and elections in exercising sole authority in governance. It simply shows that our priorities are a bit messed up - how we choose our parking signs and what we put on them flow from our thoughts on democracy; and we do not adduce our democratic principles from our parking signs.

When I was a TEC parishoner in the 1980's, both congregations were very high church, but rather "congregationalist." We never heard anything about the diocese or national church. At this time, some problems similar to St. Matt's were already exhibiting themselves in TEC.

If bishops are not able to bring order regarding those things we regard the highest, it's much easier to ignore them as not really being bishops; or hold attitudes of distrust toward which are much more extreme. I'd say that if we're free to teach our flocks that Christ didn't rise from the dead, we should also be free to thumb our nose at bishops; the church's teaching with regard to bishops is not as clear and unassailable as that regarding the resurrection. I'm not advocating this attitude at all - I still find it a pity when a congregation isn't in a good relationship with the bishop. I'm simply arguing for a greater understanding of the rationality here.

This sort of attitude has become prevalent in TEC, with many members not acknowledging it as a church, but rather seeing it as simply an "organization."

If your bishops are to succeed at their task in defending the faith on basics, Bosco, it will be easier also to help those congregations see liturgy as something "catholic" and discourage every-parish-for-itself type thinking. Calling one parish out for individual communion glasses. I share your grief here, and find it sad that an Anglican church would do such a thing. To me it points to our splintering and disagreement on even liturgical commonalities.

It does make sense, though, that many Anglican congregations these days would explicitly put aside that which is "Anglican" due to various Anglican realities and associations. The message is heard: "Look, we're not like those other Anglicans; we might be trustworthy." In a few years, out go the kneelers and prayer books - in come the projectors, the guitars and synthesizers.

I detest this type of thinking but I can thoroughly understand it. It's time to wake up to the thought that we are a profound force in encouraging that which we call "Fundamentalism," and that we're doing a great deal to cast a shadow over those things Anglicans tend to love most: liturgy, a high sense of eucharist, a love for scholarship, a high sense of musical worship. And our pot-shots at the Fundamentalist camp are more like trying to fight radical Islam with Koran-burning, than they are meaningful, serious words addressing the problem with adequate field-work and enough respect to constitute constructive criticism - so in the end we fuel the anxiety and exacerbate the problem.

It's time for us Anglicans to see "catholicity" as it truly is, embodied in all faithfully Trinitarian churches. We must realize that as Anglicans, we have very little to say about "catholicity" if we do not respect our fellow churches; and to be less thin-skinned when others fail to take us seriously. If we do not acknowledge our Lord, why should they expect anything but blight and pestilence from us?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Lucy and Bosco and James,

Than you for your comments.

Yes, there is an element of ad hominem in your comment, Lucy ... I shall be more vigilant about 'put downs' of the trainspotting kind.

Thank you for your reply, Bosco, underlining some important aspects of what is not a trivial matter - especially when viewed against a wider spectrum of Anglican issues.

James, more than one parish hereabouts has the practice of small glasses.

Brother David said...

What about congregations which practice intinction? Any opines?

WV = herpruc
Certainly a good argument for shot glasses!

James said...

Peter, I'm sorry to hear about the grape juice in shotglasses amongst Anglicans, but it's perhaps a welcome wake-up call to other Anglicans about what we're becoming. Not: "Hey-ho, Fundamentalism amongst us! Someone hoist the flag and find the book of nasty epithets!" but rather: "If this is what we're inspiring in our midst ... what are we likely inspiring elsewhere in the body of Christ?" Very likely ... those very grapejuice in shotglass congregations are doing a lot to allay problems of "Fundamentalism" - i.e., prooftexting - insisting too strongly upon adiaphora - insisting upon denominational boundaries - if my own impressions of "more conservative Anglicans" is correct. I do hope they some day think differently about the eucharist; but I most definitely won't lose any sleep over it!

Bosco, can't you see how liturgy does seem a bit of a peculiar occupation in a church whose most high-profile parish is teaching its flocks things which imply, in plain language, that Jesus is dead? I'd insist along with you on the importance of liturgy in the formation of faith - but there are also other, highly important things to which we must tend. I love your attention to liturgy, and hope for a day that liturgical attention is better appreciated in NZ; and though Lucy may have chosen her words quickly, I do think she has a point.

liturgy said...

David: It would be interesting to know of intinction’s status in other provinces. Intinction is an option explicitly mentioned in our church’s formularies. For those who want to use shot glasses of grape juice we have the normal procedure for altering our formularies. Peter is incorrect in his point (4). As this is part of the teaching of our Province, solely a diocesan alteration is not possible.

No James: I do not accept Lucy’s anonymous deprecation of worship of God and the administration of God’s sacraments. It is tragic we are even debating the value of liturgy on an Anglican site. Anglicanism once centred on Common Prayer. That this is happening on a NZ site sadly does not surprise me. We have long ago abandoned systematic training, study, and formation in our province – including particularly in the area of liturgy. As the anonymous Lucy does not state what makes liturgy so irrelevant for her it is not possible for you to arrogate her issue to be yours – for all we know she is speaking of the context of world hunger, the second coming of Christ in October, the rapid loss of biodiversity in the Amazon, or shovelling silt in the Eastern Suburbs of Christchurch. As to your refrain about the “parish is teaching its flocks things which imply, in plain language, that Jesus is dead” might it be time to put your money where your mouth is and bring a case against this parish in the context of Title D?



Lucy said...

Hello Bosco – I’m really sorry that I have offended you, that was not my intention and my comments were not addressed to you personally. I wrote because I felt that some of the things that have been written here about St Christopher’s have been unkind, unreasonable and ignorant – in both senses of the final word.

Nor it is not my intention to be anonymous, my name is Lucy Eban; I signed my full name to early posts and will do so from now on.

I am unsure as to your reasons for suggesting I write to +Victoria. I’m not ‘under orders’ to her; my home is not in Christchurch, although I have been here for the shaky months; and while I respect and admire her in many ways, I do not feel that this requires 100% agreement with everything she says, nor that I need to give her the momentous news that Lucy Eban thinks she is wrong from time to time.

I don’t accept that my comments were ad hominem: I did not single anyone out; I think it is entirely reasonable to hold and express the opinions I did, (but I will revert to my more tactful self). We live in a world in deep turmoil and anguish, in a Communion almost rent asunder, and in a Diocese full of people who are devastated, stressed and hopeless. It is in this context that I find a fixation on the wine/grape juice issue to be profoundly frustrating and trivial. Incidentally, if we are all to be to be quite so sensitive Bosco, may I respectfully suggest that your use of the term ‘shot glasses’ could be understood as derogatory.

I believe individual parishes should be able to use grape juice freely and without bullying behaviour or derisive comments. This belief is based on a deep conviction that church should be a safe place, one in which we offer profound, inclusive hospitality and behave as a family. Under the current rules, this is simply not the case for a person who is an alcoholic or who has some kind of immune disorder. I understand that +Victoria teaches that Christ is equally present in the bread and the wine and so that a person who cannot, or should not, receive the wine isn’t ‘missing out’. We don’t behave like that in my family, we watch out for one another; when one of us is fragile, broken or frail those who are strong bear the cost and carry the load. We stand together in solidarity; we honour the ones who are weak. Perhaps it would be a good example if priests and bishops received only the bread and thus stood in solidarity with the ones who are pushed to the margins by the wine only tradition.

So, with my apology for speaking inappropriately underscored, I stand firm on my right to do and believe these things:
I retain the right to call myself an Anglican, and receive grape juice at communion. If I, or others, are bullied or derided for this, then I retain the right to speak against that behaviour. I believe that this is a reasonable position to hold in a Communion that allows priests and bishops to preach ‘another Gospel’, the one in which Jesus is a just good dead bloke, and also allows a flagrant flouting of the ABC’s moratoria.

I retain the right to say that I, and many others, hear the gentle zephyr of the Spirit leading the Church into a ‘fuller revelation of truth’, sound familiar? In saying this, I would understand that my position is consonant with both Scripture and reason, and that where the clash with tradition comes I am merely asking for tradition to stretch and flex.

Lucy Eban

Poppy Sarau said...

hey Bosco - I don't think Lucy was trying to rubbish the liturgy, seems to me she has a few points worth thinking about. A person can really appreciate the liturgy, be a thoughtful reflective Anglican and think that the grape juice option is worthwhile.

Poppy Sarau

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bosco,
After all our exchanges you think I am capable of being "incorrect"? Really? I am hardly ever incorrect ... the merest improvement in my score and I shall be Bishop of Rome before you know it :)

Seriously: I spoke of 'custom' (generally), you speak of formularies. Of course a parish cannot change a formulary either on its own or persuading its diocesan synod to change. But there may be a custom in a diocese which is permitted by or consistent with the formularies which a parish wished to see changed.

On one point I would disagree with you re the formularaic status of communion instruction: we both know the bare minimum time for change of a formulary is two years; but we have had experience in recent years of anxiety about hygiene and the common cup, fuelled by sudden visitation of bird or swine or other killer flu. Though it be unconstitutional I think it appropropriate if the circumstances required a variation in the instructions of the prayer book for the bishops to issue a collective memo ... (I can't remember which flue, and whether they were all agreed on what to do, but I think something of this sort has happened in the past).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Lucy,
Thank you for your very fine argument in your last comment. I look forward to responses to it - not (might I encourage respondents) in pursuit of who is right/wrong but in pursuit of a deeper understanding of what it means to be Anglicans being faithful to Jesus.

On one matter I plead culpability and offer an explanation: I used the phrase 'shot glasses'. I did so with no intention of deprecation. In hindsight 'small glasses' would have sufficed ... I guess my mind also thought of kitchen cupboards in which glasses of both small and large kinds are stored, but none so small as to be as small as those used in communion ... unless they are 'shot glasses.'

Peter Carrell said...

On intinction: allowed by my church (ACANZP) and something I am supportive of BUT NOT (1) people intincting so much that their fingers touch the wine (2) with any form of bread other than wafers or pita bread ... I have had experience recently of ordinary "fluffy" or "soft" bread being used in communion in which intinction was taking place ...

liturgy said...

Lucy – if you have been following this thread at all, you will know that the practice of using grape juice was raised as one example of clergy “crossing their fingers” when making vows and signed promises. The formularies are perfectly clear that clergy sign up to that the wine should be good quality wine.

As far as I am aware no one has in any diocesan synod even put a motion for discussion that we no longer use wine. Alcoholics are not something that we’ve only discovered in the last year or so.

Other denominations use bread and water for communion; baptise in the name of creator, redeemer, and lifegiver; etc. etc. You are welcome to discuss and laud such alterations to our worship. But if you introduce them into an Anglican church and then demand that everyone else follow every other thing they have signed up to – is there not the possibility of someone pointing out some inconsistency is present here? That was the context of responding to a question with the grape-juice example not at all to be unkind, unreasonable and ignorant.

And if I wasn’t included in your liturgists, similar to trainspotters in their eclectic hobby, comment – who did you have in mind?



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I would distinguish between formulary breaking of one kind and formulary breaking of another kind.

Bear with me! (Examples below not confined to the diocese to which we belong).

If I change (say) the words of the creed, knowing full well that I am breaking long and wide Christian tradition, do not have the support of my bishop in doing so, and have no pragmatic reason for doing so relating to health or safety issues, then I am flagrantly in breach of my vows and commitments as a licensed clergyperson.

If I (say) introduce grapejuice into the communion practice of my parish (1) never having been taught that the rubrics of the services are as important as the contents of the prayers (2) believe I am following allowed practice because other parishes are doing so (3) have consulted my bishop who has not objected to it (4) am doing so because wide consultation in the parish suggests that this is an appropriate way to accommodate (a good Anglican word!) both alcoholics and Baptists who have joined in my worship services, then I am not flagrantly in breach of my vows and commitments as a licensed clergyperson.

I urge you to consider that some of our colleagues have not knowingly broken their ordination vows. I certainly did not know that when I was vicar of a parish for five and half years which always offered grapejuice as an alternative to wine (a custom begun before I was inducted).

I offer no advice here to clerical readers as to what to do in their parishes now that their rubrical obligations have been disclosed, save to urge that at the very least they follow the lawful directives of their licensing bishop.

But I do raise with you the question that not all our colleagues know what they are disobeying. That is the problem. Not crossing their fingers. Naturally I think the fault here lies with bishops other than our own, who is wonderfully clear on these matters :)

Bryden Black said...

Gentlemen, gentlemen - and lady!

Lest I like a trout rise and snap at these “gnats”, may I say only this.

Let us remember the advice given by the Didache centuries before the Church divided in the name of reformation - not that she truly sought such a division in the west; it became an imposition of sorts:

7. Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: after you have reviewed all these things, baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” in running/living water. (2) But if you have no running/living water, then baptize in some other water; and if you are not able to baptize in cold water, then do so in warm. (3) But if you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.”

Mutatis mutandis, what pertains to the dominical sacrament of initiation, may it pertain to the sacrament of continuation (Jn 6) - whether deemed (since Anglicans tend to be rather broad about all this!) as “transubstantiation” or “receptionist” or “memorialist” - although naturally (as an Anglican!) I have my own, hard-won understanding of how the Good Lord himself, as the triune God He is, enacts Eucharist. As for the rest: it is “right strawey”!

Signing off folks!

Peter Carrell said...

From Peter Palaiologos (slightly moderated):

i see that the Bishop of Lichfield in England raises a more fundamental question (and not a new one either): how far does an insistent emphasis on long communion services ('the Lord's people round the Lord's table on the Lord's day') actually exclude what is left of the unchurched 'fringe'?


liturgy said...

Yes, Peter, of course there are different degrees of formulary breaking. It is plainly tiresome to have to defend oneself against the accusation of being a rubrical fundamentalist.

I remember the CofE Canon that allowed adaptation of a service’s words to a particular context as long as those words did not conflict with the teachings of the church. We do not have such a canon, and your comment underscores my point of poor training, study, and formation, so it is not a canon I would now seek – but we do have in places “..or other appropriate words… or similar words…”

I have been present, however, at Anglican Eucharists where “this is my body… this is my blood…” was changed to “this is myself… this is my life…” - this priest objected to the blood imagery…

When it comes to the form and matter of a sacrament, I think great care needs to be taken. This is not (merely – I’m worried about using that word) about “obeying the Anglican rules”.

The agreed matter of the Eucharist is bread and wine, just as the agreed matter of baptism is water. I disagree with you that it is within the competency of a bishop to unilaterally authorise a change to the matter of the sacraments. If grape juice, why not Ribena/blackcurrant juice? If blackcurrant juice why not tea? Cake & tea? Chips & coke? I’ve actually been present when eggs and Pepsi were used!

Not knowingly breaking their ordination vows is still, according to our formularies ( :-) ) sinning in ignorance.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,

You and I and many of our colleagues are agreed that some words cannot and should not be changed (so, body/blood etc ... even in our flexible service, as you know, these are specified).

You and I seem to disagree on whether (setting rubrics aside for a moment) grape juice is a reasonable alternative to wine (both being juice of fruit of the vine). I do not see why if one allowed grape juice (supposing one had authority higher than General Synod!!) that other substitutions swing into view. There is no thick wedge here: it is only about grapes, not about blackcurrants or Coke.

When agreeing that only water may be used for baptism, we are allowing that fresh water and salt water both count as water.

To try to be clear: I was not arguing that bishops have competency to make change to the form of the sacraments de jure, only observing that de facto some seem to have supported the use of grapejuice by their clergy and their clergy have not known better than to accept that support.

As for ignorance, isn't there a saying about 'ignorance' and 'bliss'?

James said...


I do appreciate the detail with which you think through liturgical issues. This is very important for any healthy church.

Re. St. Matt's - I don't know enough about the details of NZ Anglican life and polity to know how this would be best addressed, other than that it should be addressed. Not being an NZ Anglican, it's certainly not up to me to initiate some sort of disciplinary procedure. Though the matter is one which helps me see Lucy's point - whether or not Lucy agrees on the importance of teaching the living Christ in pastoral theology.

Paul Powers said...

Re intinction: The TEC Book of Common Prayer's rubrics provide that every communicant shall have the opportunity to receive the elements separately, but it may be received in both kinds simultaneously in a manner to be approved by the bishop.

The first bishop of my diocese did not authorize intinction. Those who, for whatever reason, didn't wish to receive from the common cup were instructed to receive the bread only. Under the current bishop, intinction is tolerated, but not encouraged, so long as it is the chalice bearer, not the communicant, who dips the host into the wine.

It's my understanding (and I may have read this on Bosco Peter's blog) that the RC church allows the use of non-alcoholic wine, but not grape juice, the difference being that with one the juice of the grape is allowed to ferment and then the alcohol is removed, and with the other there is no fermentation to begin with. It may be a distinction without a difference, but that's not for me to decide. Since your bishop has said no to grape juice, that settles the matter, at least in your diocese (I don't think the question has even come up in my diocese, but I'm pretty sure I know what my bishop's answer would be).

At least grape juice and grape wine come from the same original source. When you start talking about using pineapple juice or beer or Coca-Cola or whatever, I think that's straying too far.

However, if a church is located in an area where wine isn't available, some sort of adaptation may be necessary (with the local bishop's approval, of course).

Brother David said...

And yet Peter, there are folks here, on your blog, who use a variation to Bosco's challenge of yesterday wine, today grape juice and possibly tomorrow blackcurrant juice when they throw at GLBT folks, today same sex unions and tomorrow incest, polyamory, bestiality, etc.

See where it leads!

BTW, is there a good brand of non-alcoholic wine in NZ?

Brother David said...

Bosco, how about these instead of the "shot glasses"?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,

There are vigilante groups all over the world looking out for thin ends of wedges :)

I do not know of a good non-alcoholic wine produced in NZ ... it would be a bit against the grain of our highly alcoholised culture if there was!

But I am intrigued by a possibility which I had not thought of, that a non-alcoholic wine would be a plausible "material of the sacrament" alternative to alcoholic wine, and better than non-alcoholic grapejuice.

Peter Carrell said...

Far be it for ADU to enter the messy world of promoting commercial products, but speaking of wondering about NZ non-alcoholic wines (i.e. alcohol has been removed from the wine), here is the first link when I Googled:

liturgy said...

I have said more than once, and it is borne out again, that many who are pro- the so-termed Anglican Covenant, thinking it will solve the Communion’s gay issue as a departure from Christian practice, themselves pay scant regard to Christian liturgical practice. Sexuality isn’t mentioned in the “Covenant” – the elements used in the Eucharist explicitly are. I often get the impression that those arguing for the “Covenant” haven’t actually read it, and certainly their current practice does not show conformity to it and this undermines the credibility they bring to the discussion. We may, for example in our diocese, vote in favour of the “Covenant” – but that vote will not be done in full appreciation of what is being voted for, and if so with a lot of “finger crossing”, as is apparent already internationally amongst those voting “in favour” of the “Covenant”.

Yes, the parallels between this discussion about the matter of the sacraments and blessing or marrying committed same-sex couples are not accidental or coincidental. The “slippery slope” argument follows directly from arguing to “accommodate … Baptists who have joined in my worship services”. Many Baptists would see nothing wrong with using Ribena/blackcurrant juice. I would suggest that already some of the Anglican parishes mentioned who use small glasses have used Ribena/blackcurrant juice.

You might bring your arguments to some process to alter the clear practice based in scripture, tradition, reason and the explicit teachings of our Lord himself – but it is quite another thing to presume the result of such a process and be implementing a revisionist practice already.

As to the presence of alcoholics – I’m surprised that this is brought up as if it is a new issue in Christian history, and not something that is dealt with in liturgy 101. There are numerous normal practices: some alcoholics are clear that the small sip at communion is fine for them personally, some intinct, some receive only the bread, some take the cup, hold it giving thanks to God that they are sober, and return it. Part of my training of those who administer the cup is, in this last case, to receive the cup back and treat it as per usual: wiping and turning – it is no one else’s business to observe whether someone receives or not. I would have thought this would be standard in any training of those who administer the cup.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
In all sorts of aspects of your comment just made I agree with you; and particularly with your fine instructions re sensitivity when administering the chalice.

Funnily enough the question at the head of this post is "Who is in charge?"

One experience I have had over the years of consideration of issues great and small in respect to the spectrum from grape juice to homosexuality is that the voices of laity in parishes can be very strong. Questions about communion practice and about same sex practice can be answered with quite a strong answer from the laity (e.g. as expressed via Vestry and AGMs). That is, the laity may not see any inconsistency between their answer at one end of the spectrum of issues and their answer at the other end. As licensed clergy we are beholden to minister consistently, and rightly you are challenging us who are so ordered and licensed to be consistent.

But my experience of laity in some parishes is that they cannot give a toss about the finer points of the consitution and canons - they may even be lifelong Anglicans and have this attitude - and (as Lucy Eban recently here made a related point) they may not give much credence to the vicar invoking the guidance and instruction of the bishop.

In theory the vicar as leader should uphold the canons, come hell or high lay rebellion; in practice, life is not quite that simple.

Peter Carrell said...

(Lightly moderated) comment from Bryden Black:

“When it comes to the form and matter of a sacrament, I think great care needs to be taken. This is not (merely – I’m worried about using that word) about “obeying the Anglican rules”.

The agreed matter of the Eucharist is bread and wine, just as the agreed matter of baptism is water.”

Now; this is where your line of argument falls down, where the way you approach the matter (pun intended) fails to distinguish because incapable of distinguishing the truly significant differences - not between grape juice or wine (and we have had the discussion BTW at St C’s re grape juice vs. non-alcoholic wine!), but among (there being more than two) “transubstantiation”, “receptionist” and “memorialist” views of the Holy Communion, and whether the rite of baptism is itself “regenerative”, etc.

Quite simply no amount of “strawey” debate about rubrics will settle these far, far weightier, and diversely and seemingly ‘permitted’, views among Anglicans; and this despite the horrendous divisions just such sacramental disputes have caused in Church history. Is it the case that we pick on such picky things as your views on certain rubrics (which differ anyway around the Province and the Provinces, let alone the dioceses globally; is it all a case of a bishop’s mere whimsey, this bishop vs. that bishop?!) because we simply do not care any more about the theological guts of the issue: it’s all just too hard, while it is all just too easy to talk about grape juice vs. wine.

This trout is dying of a positive “surfeit” - of “gnats”! And this while the unsaved are truly dying ...

Paul Powers said...

Perhaps I have misunderstood some of your Kiwi commenters, but I get the impression that in ACANZP, use of grape juice (or other beverages) instead of wine is found in some fairly "conservative" parishes. Here, up over, the use of grape juice seems to be occuring more often in the so-called "liberal" or "progressive" dioceses. For example, in the Diocese of Newark's confirmation services,, people are given a choice of wine or grape juice, as well as gluten-free bread (whether gluten-free bread is proper matter is another topic for debate).

Wheat bread and grape wine have been established from the Church's earliest times as the proper matter for communion. However, is one or the other is not available, might a substitution be acceptable? A fairly well-known priest in the US once described on her blog her experience celebrating the eucharist in the psychiatric unit of a local hospital. The hospital made it clear that she had to use what was available in the hospital. It was absolutely forbidden to bring any food or drink in from the outside, even for a communion service. They were supposed to provide saltine crackers and grape juice (anything with alcohol was out of the question). Instead, they provided graham crackers and grapefruit juice, because that's all they had available. Was she right in going ahead with the eucharist? Or should she have opted for morning prayer instead? I really don't know the answer to that one, but I think it's different from a situation where bread and wine are easily available.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Paul,
I cannot think of an NZ parish happy to be identified as "liberal" or "progressive" which uses grape juice, but would be interested in readers commenting further on that. Otherwise, yes, in my own experience of quite a few conservative parishes, including nearly every parish in my former diocese, grapejuice is routinely available. Descriptively, with no comment on the solidity or validity of arguments used to support this practice, I believe it has come about through an influx of conservative Christians from (non-alcoholic, not keen on alcohol) denominations, combined with concern that alcoholics have an able-to-drink-it option, with the added dimension that many parents wishing to bring their baptised children to communion (post a 1980s decision of our church) have also preferred that they do not sip wine at an early age.

While this may seem preculiar etc to Anglicans ourside of our country (and, yes, to some in our country) the fact is that it makes perfectly good sense to a lot of Anglicans here, not least because we are a country with alcohol consumption problems.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bryden

Your belittling of the discussion to the level of “gnats” does you no credit.

It is clear from the thread that you are in breach of your vows both to your church and to your bishop who has been explicit about requirements. Your congregationalism in suggesting that a discussion at parish level is all-sufficient to make a decision about altering a sacrament beggars belief.

You also belittle the majority of Christians for whom reverence about the Eucharist is central. Your mocking of our following our Lord’s teaching is baffling and hurtful. It is little wonder that ecumenism makes so little progress.

I have seen you present theological minutia that are way beyond the interests of the majority. If you expect others not to treat your contributions as hypocritically gnattish please have the courtesy to accept that for them and possibly even for our Lord what you regard as gnats He may regard as a camel.

You have been quick to use Bible verses as weapons. How about a little Mt 7:3-5?

Your brother in Christ

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve (cc. Bryden)

I have published your comment with some reluctance. You make charges against Bryden and his comments here without substantiating them. For example, you write,

"Your congregationalism in suggesting that a discussion at parish level is all-sufficient to make a decision about altering a sacrament beggars belief."

I cannot myself see where Bryden has asserted that. I do see him mention a discussion at a congregational level of the merits of "grape juice" v. "non alcoholic wine" but that is not the same thing as asserting the congregation has the power to change the form of the sacrament.

You also charge Bryden with belittling the discussion to the level of "gnats" and belittling the majority of Christians in the sacramental reverence. Again, I do not see where Bryden is doing this. I do see him questioning whether the rubrics within our prayer book should have the significance some in our church give them, or that others appear to give them. In any church that is a fair question to raise and it is quite fair on any matter of church rules to raise the question whether our adherence to the rules is moving us from (so to speak) our Lord's kingdom of freedom to the Pharisees' place of constriction and gnats. I do not see him belittling those who reverence the sacraments.

I am not sure which context you are writing from but I think it worth making the point that in NZ congregations have a large amount of power to make decisions via Vestry and AGMs (whether or not they strictly follow the canons and consitutions, this is what happens); and the further point that nothing discussed in this thread and declared as breaking the rubrics of our church has been uniformly and routinely challenged by our bishops over the last twenty years. I observe this not to get Bryden off any breaches of observance his bishop may wish to formally or informally speak to him about - that is between him and her and the Lord - but to explain that our church can be fairly relaxed about written rules. The Kiwi way ... !?

Anonymous said...

My apologies, Peter,
I took Bryden’s conclusion, “This trout is dying of a positive “surfeit” - of “gnats”! And this while the unsaved are truly dying” as continuing his earlier contention that this discussion was at the level of gnats. It would help me, then, since you interpret these phrases differently, if you could explain how you understand these references of his.
Your brother in Christ

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve,

I have not been appointed Bryden's interpreter, but he may be away trout fishing and not back to this thread for a while, so this is what I think he means by "gnats" in this particular thread: concern about whether grape juice is used alongside wine, whether small glasses are used alongside common chalices. "Gnats" because there are much bigger issues at stake in Anglicanland. Bryden cited, for instance, the question of understanding the eucharist itself, on which Anglicans have not reached agreement.

Brother David said...

because there are much bigger issues at stake in Anglicanland.

Yes, I am really surprised that you have not yet picked up on the current TEC embarrassment that +KJS received an RCC pedophile into the TEC ranks of priests while she was the Nevada ordinary.

I breathlessly await James' OCD to kick in on that juicy tidbit!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
The emerging story of a self-confessed paedophile who served in ++KJS' diocese when she was bishop there raises a question whether or not she made an error of judgement when she issued him a license. If she did make an error of judgement then I presume she has learned from that and is a better bishop for that. In that respect she would be in the same camp as a number of Anglican (and Roman) bishops around the world. There is no great story here in respect of ++KJS' current duties.

The story about her CV at the time of her election is a possible story in respect of her current duties because (a) the discharge of those duties relates to the election (if she had not been elected then she would not be doing them); (b) her conduct as PB may be expressive of a wider programme of progressivism in TEC, with implications for the Communion, that progressivism (arguably) involved in the way she was promoted at the time of the election; (c) most relevantly, the recent editing of the Wikipedia entry suggests some currency re the election CV for ++KJS herself.

However, there may yet be a story to note on ADU, e.g. if the reportage grows through some present involvement in it by ++KJS commenting.

Bryden Black said...

1/2 Hi Steve (with Bosco no doubt listening in!),

Firstly, no offence was intended, even when Bosco and I were ‘trading’ verses, which he nicely acknowledged earlier above. Thereafter, I merely continued with “gnats” to suggest we really do need to get some perspective here, not least when there are far weightier matters before the AC at this time, and which the Gospel in Romans clearly parades. Also, Peter correctly points out I also specifically mention the great diversity of sacramental theologies ‘on offer’, which divergences surely have greater import than slight differences re matter/form, especially when I have never even countenanced such eccentricities as Coke, pop-corn etc, which have been brought up, note, by some others, never myself. [The silence regarding such theological divergences meanwhile is deafening in my ears BTW.]

But let’s give this jolly thing one more whirl, out of courtesy to such as Peter our host, who is not my interpreter, and as yourself, who appears unable to interpret my intentions. Bosco makes many good and important points - in their place. The question boils down to their right place. When the BCP was first written by Cranmer and subsequently restored, rubrics were an essential aspect of portraying the differences between CoE theology and the RCC as well as the Puritans. Indeed, so crucial were they in some eyes that the very thing termed “rubrics” were continued to be so penned in red/ruby ink (the practice existed even before the Reformation) for emphasis, and to distinguish these instructions from the spoken text itself.

However, have you noticed how since the liturgical renewal of the 1960s, among global Anglicanism and other mail-line churches as well, these rubrics have become less significant, especially as more and more options have entered on stage, notably with such remarks as “X may ...”. And nowadays we all have a veritable plethora of ‘options’ on line to ‘mix-&-match’. True; what constitutes the boundaries of such experimentation have been hard to determine sometimes and even police. The old tag lex orandi lex credendi seems to have little effect in general now such is the sheer variety, and liturgical rubrics in particular have lost what real sanction they might have had back in the 16th and 17th Cs. With all of which context I again try to establish some further perspective.

Bryden Black said...

2/2 And then there’s the matter of “finger-crossing” and “the Covenant”, which seemingly raises questions of “consistency”. True again; Section 1.1.5 of RCD does explicitly mention “the two sacraments ordained by Christ himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with the unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution, and of the elements ordained by him”, with reference notes to certain documents. This tone captures the very wording of the old BCP, we might also note, as well as the Lambeth Quad. But where is the consistency when the likes of Bosco ‘winks at’ Brother David’s mentioning Lk 4 as an example of Jesus’ “literacy” when some ‘modern scholars’ ‘read’ that text about Jesus reading from the scroll of Isaiah 61, as if it were some Lucan creation to endorse a supposed “pneumatologically oriented Christology” (Kasper), and not ‘literal history’? In fact of course, we simply have no way definitively to judge such notions.

Thereafter, no-one supposes that “wine” in NT times was anything but literally fermented juice of the grape. One suspects there was no consumer demand or the technology to extract the alcohol subsequent to the wine’s manufacture as are both the case today - nor the demand either for grape juice generally, or specifically within some (many?) congregations, as opposed to wine. What’s good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander re any exegesis of any document, surely! Just as the very idea of the Covenant does not limit us to only one conversation - re homosexuality - as Dr Ken Booth was quick to point out nearly two years ago when we debated the RCD at our local Synod (and which motion I myself proposed, so I do think I do know just a wee bit about this matter). No; the idea of a Covenant is an attempt to establish an intensification of relationships across the AC, so that there is a commonly agreed authoritative framework for some form of decision-making re non adiaphora matters. Now; if you wish to raise the stakes and say grape-juice vs. wine sufficiently distorts the Eucharistic form/matter, rendering it NOT adiaphora, make your case. I simply demur. But if you were to object, like Bosco has already, to changing the formal words to exclude distasteful reference to “blood”, or the “matter” to diet Pepsi - then you and I are in ‘heated agreement’! Meanwhile, and BTW, the present Bp knows full well what ‘church’ stuff goes down; and just may be, acknowledges too what Church remains! So we’d all do well to allow her words, and her actions, also some exegetical appraisal in our context, that of ACANZ&P, as Peter too has already mentioned.

Gone fishing ...!

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks, Bryden!

A further note I would bring about these matters is consideration of the "line" between church rules and pastoral best practice (or pragmatics). In a recent comment here a note was made about 'wheaten bread'. But these days of sensitivity re gluten, I personally have no problem with a rice cracker being an alternative to wheaten bread for the gluten intolerant.

My support for the availability of grape juice in a sense is neither support for changing or breaking the rules, but acknowledgement of pastoral pragmatics. Does it really require our church to involve itself in a twice round formulary changing process to change our rules rather than acknowledging some pastoral discretion exists to offer the gluten-free, alcohol-free communicant a rice cracker and grape juice?

Ok! Some are going to answer, "Yes, it does!!"

Brother David said...

Please Dr. Peter, tell me about the Wiki editing? What is it that took place there, as you understand it, at this moment, as you read my post in the moderation queue? Please do not go and research it, just extemporaneously tell us what it was that occurred.

Peter Carrell said...

Since I am not allowed to check my memory (!!) my understanding is that recently (but not sure now of the timeline) a Wikipedia entry re the PB's lifestory which included reference to being 'Dean' of a 'School of Theology', in accordance with the description given in the election material, was altered by an assistant to the PB, to bring the Wikipedia entry into line with the actuality of the situation of being in charge of a parish education programme.

I have this funny feeling you are going to tell me I am quite wrong ...

Except having written the above I have gone to and my summary above seems pretty much in accordance with the present Wiki facts ...

But maybe I am still wrong ...!

James said...


You may have to wait on my OCD for this current issue. I don't have a sense that it's not being adequately covered, so I don't feel much obligation to cover it; it's also a case where we don't have many facts, and at the current moment I'm actually inclined to have sympathy with the PB's plight here. When pedophilia is brought up, the media frequently engages (imho) in journalistic misbehavior in a virtual "lynch mob." No promises though - it's a good opportunity to bring up the larger issue of credibility and honesty, where the election irregularity is, imho, highly relevant.

James said...

David and Peter,

A TEC Church Center employee removed, at the suggestion of the PB herself, a paragraph which noted that the election materials contained language about Dean of The Good Samaritan School of Theology, and after the discovery that no record of such school of theology of that name could be found in Corvallis, the Presiding Bishop explained that this was the then-rectors term for adult education at her parish. Church Center later said that the employee was "removing errors" or something like that, but did not specify what the errors were.

Peter, the employee did not replace this information with anything else, or provide a sentence saying that the PB had been in charge of adult education; the employee simply removed it. What stands now in a footnote the work of another editor.

In the Conger article, Church Center again said that the person removed errors - but did not say what was erroneous. This is likely yet another deception - if it turns out that there were no errors in this paragraph. At the very least, Church Center should stipulate which part is in error. I wrote the PB's media contact person about this matter quite a while ago and haven't received a response.

Church Center has also removed a page from TEC's site which indicates its knowledge of the Barbara Alton editings of Bennison's Wikipedia page, which had come up in discussion of the page (which the TEC Church Center employee had been following).

liturgy said...

I think this part of this thread has probably just about covered all elements, but there is a point, Peter, that you appear to be missing.

[I prepared this comment prior to the recent cluster of comments passing moderation and have not had a moment to submit it, and acknowledge that some of these recent comments already concur and anticipate what I’m writing – but I just do not have the time to re-edit my points, so please exegete this in the light of that].

Yes, Anglicans have not reached agreement on “the question of understanding the eucharist itself”. One way we used to deal with this was precisely by adhering to shared spiritual discipline – we used to call this Common Prayer. And it used to be central to the Anglican approach to being a Christian. We could hold a variety of understandings (eg. from transubstantiation, through consubstantiation, receptionism, etc. and similarly with differing understandings of baptism etc) and be able to worship together because of our agreed shared practice. This was then a solution to diversity but also clearly a source.

I do not think this is purely pragmatic – God and God’s mysteries are open to multi-faceted understanding. (So not unintentionally a source).

I am unaware of a province that allows more flexibility in what is authorised and formally allowed; but even when the edges are clear – they are regularly flouted.

I was present at a service (again St Christopher’s but it happens elsewhere) called Communion, but there was no Eucharistic Prayer. When I criticised this I was, similar to on this thread, called everything from a Pharisee, postage-stamp-collecting, trainspotting, liturgical nit-picking, camel-swallowing, gnat-focusing rubrical and prayer-book fundamentalist who had no respect and sense for God’s obvious presence at this very devout event. I may have some regrets about being drawn into this once again as I do not think that much will change. Clearly, not even the bishop can make headway on this.

One person’s gnat is another person’s camel, be it how we celebrate Christ’s sacraments, or whether we bless same-sex couples, or details about the precise nature of Christ, or which theologian said what, etc. or how we actually live out our vocation in our own particular complex situation.

I live within our church with those who depart from our agreed practice and have never laid a formal complaint against them. But, when there are cries of foul, by those who depart from our agreements, at others who depart from another part of those agreements, and formal motions, calls to sign up to new documents, etc. it may be worth pausing and seeing whether there is some inconsistency going on there. As you say the Kiwi way appears to be “our church can be fairly relaxed about written rules”. That’s another good reason not to add the Covenant, especially when those advocating for it already ignore some of what they are advocating.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,

I had always thought that postage stamp collecting and trainspotting were worthy activities ... though we perhaps have too few trains in NZ to make that much of a pastime here!

Not to disagree with you so much as to throw a further thought beside your comment (and expand slightly on an earlier comment of mine), it may be worth distinguishing between pastoral flexibility and 'flouting the rules'. In my experience of ordained ministry, clergy on all sides of ecclesiological divides and along all parts of the spectrum have demonstrated pastoral flexibility while generally being rule abiding. Flouting of the rules has generally caught up with the flouters, though normally through a quiet word from bishop or archdeacon rather than through an ecclesial court case.

A moot point then is the question when 'pastoral flexibility' is repeated often enough to become a 'custom which flouts the rules.'

But I stand with you in your general thesis here, which has nothing to do with gnats and everything to do with consistency of the camel's walk: if we expect our neighbour to follow the rules, we need to be exemplary ourselves. Where we think we have some kind of justifiable exemption from doing so, we need to allow that our neighbour might employ similar principles of exegesis and logic to justify their exemption.

Paul Powers said...

I never thought I would post a comment expressing sympathy for +KJS. I think it was completely appropriate for her to have her staff remove inaccurate information from her Wikipedia biography (regardless of whatever responsiblility, if any, she may have had for its being there in the first place). As for the issue with this priest, it was a serious mistake on her part, but she's not the first bishop to make this kind of mistake, nor will she be the last. I suspect people are more interested in seeing how she handles the situation now.

As for rice crackers for communion, there is a low-gluten wheat alternative. Even if there weren't, I think going to rice crackers would require at a minimum permission from the bishop.

liturgy said...

If I might speak again (not to be outdone in biblical allusions, Gen 18:32a) to reinforce and extend your point, Peter: there is also the honourable (Christian) tradition of breaking a rule in anticipation and to force a movement towards altering a rule. But as we are both agreeing, this can cut more than one way.

Peter Carrell said...

Good points, Paul and Bosco.

By the way, for the record, not being a vicar I am not normally in the position of breaking rules, forcing rule changes etc. When invited to preside in a parish I go with the custom there AND I go not to be a policeman of custom. If custom is contrary to canon I think this should be brought to the bishop's attention by means other than me telling tales!!

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Bosco for your correctly calling out the lack of a due Eucharistic Prayer: I would hate to think that that was under my own watch ...

Thereafter: “One person’s gnat is another person’s camel, be it how we celebrate Christ’s sacraments, or whether we bless same-sex couples, or details about the precise nature of Christ, or which theologian said what, etc. or how we actually live out our vocation in our own particular complex situation.” While I am with you in regards to the saying re “fish” and “meat”, I think it stretches the dominical saying a bit too far when you then assemble the list you do! So; sorry; cannot concur on that one! What happened to the venerable notion of “hierarchy of truths”? Let alone the legitimate practice of subsidiarity and matters adiaphora - ?? And that also goes naturally for any ‘new venture’ too ...

Train spotting, stamp collecting, and fishing are all good pastimes no doubt! For these sorts of things cut most ... satisfactorily, for their respective practitioners. Cya!

James said...

Paul Powers: The information on the Wikipedia page was, I believe (and research from various articles tends to back this), accurate - it didn't say she had been Dean, it said the election materials had said she'd been Dean, it turned out the school of theology didn't exist, etc.. I'd agree with you if this were removing info; but it's not.

I'm happy though to see you expressing some sympathy for the PB. It's very, very important that we're fair when dealing with her.

James said...

(1/2) I am very, very happy at the passion and respect for detail which Bosco brings to liturgy in doing his part for strengthening the catholicity of the ACNZ.

I'm also inclined to agree here with Bryden. Bosco is most certainly right that one man's adiaphora may be another man's kerygma. But then to throw in "details about the precise nature of Christ ..." - especially given the situation of the Communion, calls for further critique. Bosco is not saying that this is what should be the case, but simply what is the case.

I'd suggest that there is great urgency in underlining the value of some teachings (and practices) as not belonging to adiaphora. And that this should begin, with who Christ is - with an emphasis on those aspects which have been accentuated as particularly important for our salvation, by Himself, and by the apostles (and by tradition).

In coming back to Lucy's point ... in the way we discuss things, it sometimes does appear that we believe that whether Christ lives or not, is equally important to the question of whether we use wine or grape juice, in one cup or many; or how many centimetres long a cubit is.

This means, concretely Bosco, applying your powerful mind and passion for Trinitarian theology into "liturgy" in the big, broad sense - not only in the use of cups etc., but also in the greater work of the church - in particular, the catholicity of what we teach in thought, word and deed - in how we "incarnate" Christ.

It means translating the joy and the passion we have for the Risen and Living Christ in the eucharist, into a passion for the praxis of the church as a whole.

It means taking the glorious work which takes place at the eucharistic table (or altar), and seeing this work as interrelated with, and fulfilled in, the totality of the life of the church.

I believe that at this level - you and Lucy will find profound agreement in your love and passion for the church. It is a difficult level - as it requires thought which is highly creative and exigent, and it requires hard work and sacrifice. It requires finding creative ways of acting, embodying Christ's love; it requires modeling that and speaking that; it requires moving from the table of the eucharist, out to the congregation, out to the town, out to the diocese and the whole church. And keeping these all in mind, in love, as one acts and speaks.

James said...

(2/2) It requires finding agreements and resonances with persons very different from yourself, like Lucy, but who can nonetheless understand the message and serve Christ in doing their part for the greater, catholic church.

I think, for example, that if there are things the both of you can do, to assure that teaching consistently points to Christ who lives and rose from the dead - that all will be invigorated in their passion for Christ when they partake of the eucharist, whether it be grape juice or fine wine. That with a heightened awareness of who Christ is, and a greater understanding of the church as His body .... that you will also find a more receptive ear for improving the eucharist experience and practice in those churches which have as yet to come to appreciate some aspects of the eucharist which both you and I cherish.

That in doing so, you could help bring about a renewal understood and supported both by "reformed" and "Anglo-Catholic" groups - pointing out the dangers of an uneducated, "magicalist" notion of grace in the eucharist, which is especially prevalent when there is a "high church" practice of the eucharist combined with an impoverished sense of who Jesus is (and what His body is) ... here, you should have the ear for all Reformed and Anglo-catholic parishes who have not yet lost sight of who Christ is.

But this is merely an example of this kind of thinking, in seeing liturgy as encompassing the total work and public doing - i.e. incarnate action of the church.

It means being a good Christian (and, fwiw, also a good Marxist - I'm cribbing here from Lukács, but also Maurice Blondel. I do think every liturgist needs a wee bit of Marx to get by in late capitalism - but it's that wee bit regarding praxis where this thought so profoundly resonates with Christ's own teaching of the incarnate work of the church - and where we are most profoundly at odds with the notions of disembodied "ideas" and "viewpoints" in the very "liberalism" which is the arch-enemy of Marxism. I'm adding this partially because of your inquiring, weeks ago, about my use of the term “practice” - I hope this might help it make more sense).

liturgy said...

To be clear, as he asked, Bryden had nothing to do with the eucharistic prayer story. [But I’m not going to play a let’s-narrow-it-down game – let’s leave it at that]

As to the lengthy responses to needing to be clear about “details about the precise nature of Christ”: horrified as some readers here might be, I would not at all be surprised if the majority of Anglican clergy in NZ could not articulate without looking it up the orthodox understanding of the will(s) of Christ, the nature of Christ’s soul, the relationship between Christ’s divine and human nature, etc. These things are important to me – but I accept I am in a church with many for whom this is not.

Does the grading/ranking of Christian beliefs and teachings rather than receiving Christian orthodoxy as a single whole apply to the scriptures as well (especially for those who see all Christian teaching in the Bible)? Such an approach was followed in the St Michael’s report chaired by our bishop. And hence provide a way forward in sexuality issues?

Bryden Black said...

Bosco; I’ll be drawn.
Your last post creates false dilemmas, even dangerously false ones. As recent work on regulae fidei shows, it is a complex dialectic among the canon of Scripture, the Creeds and the Rules. Nor may we leave the matter quite there: one historical example will have to suffice. As JA Jungmann painstakingly showed in much of his work, while the official doctrine of the Trinity is profoundly liturgical as well as doctrinal (just so, lex orandi, lex credendi), the anti-Arian backlash, evidenced in the liturgies from as soon as the late 4th C and onwards, as well as elsewhere, precipitated a serious (mediatorial, sacramental, even ontological) vacuum the likes of which we have only 1500 years later just begun to get our heads around, let alone really addressed. For my money, THIS is the one thing that truly arises out of the revival of interest in the doctrine of the Trinity since 1964 (I pick on the date of Eberhard Jüngel’s first edition of his Barthian “Paraphrase”).

“If the Lord tarries”, these last few decades will be seen (IMHO) as precipitating the most seminal sea change in the history of theology since the 16th C. And an essential matrix for that change is a return precisely to that threefold nexus, canon, Creeds and Rules of Faith, all of which together seek to “respond to” (Jüngel) and “interpret” (Barth) God’s triune revelation-cum-redemption. There’s quite simply nothing bigger or grander or more glorious - or more important! Which is why we must also view the likes of the TEC ‘revolution’ in ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘orthopraxis’ as being the absolute cadaver it is (Ezekiel would use even stronger language, I know). So; there; I have been drawn indeed!

PS I first read the St Michael Report quite a few years ago and was intrigued how it could speak so eloquently of a creedal core, while completely missing sight of the anthropological significance of homosexual relations ...! Am still awaiting a response from its Chair to my (2 page) letter!!

Anonymous said...

Nobody ever said orthodox, dogmatic Christology - the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God - was as simple as the multiplication table. If it were, there never would have been centuries of argument and refinement on the way to Chalcedon. But if Anglican clergy are not interested in at least trying to plumb that depth, they might as well confine themselves to moralizing slogans about living well instead of theology. MRA could do that job, I suppose. "Holding" or "believing" the Creeds is not the same as understanding them, and that holds for every kind of knowledge. "Knowing" divine truth (and God) 'sub specie temporis' is always asymptotic: we know in part and see in part, but we should be continually (through contemplation of the word) approaching the full truth, rather than diverging. The gravamen against Tec (and its fellow travelers) is that they are doing the latter.

The Reformation which gave definitive shape to the Church of England and the other reformed churches of Europe made no formal changes to the doctrine of the Trinity or to Chalcedonian Christology. (The Reformation, in fact, was really about how the Holy Spirit operates in the life of the Christian and the church.)
Arianism was one attempt to "simplify" the mystery of the Incaranation. The radical Reformation saw another attempt, a 'Christology from below' in Socinianism, and, as I've suggested before, a kind of unitarian, non-incarnationist Neo-Socinianism is indeed prevalent in Tec today. Marcus Borg is one prominent example; Spong is another, more vulgar one. Both are feted and supported within Tec. Whatever personal qualities these gentlemen possess, they are not Trinitarian Christians and therefore far outside creedal and historic Anglicanism. That much of Tec has become a "theological cadaver" is sadly true.
(I don't know what Schori has said on the Trinity or Christology, but she is not a systematic theologian or a biblical scholar, and should not be taxed with that. She has, I know, expressed a lack of interest in the question of life after death, which is rather amazing in a professed Christian and ecclesiastical figure.)
Christology and Trinitarianism are inseparable fields of study (but aren't they all, because truth is systemic), and the recovery of the centrality of the Trinity is a key factor in theology today. Along with Barth and Jungel (as Bryden rightly reminds us), the work of Jenson and Gunton will repay careful study.

Bryden Black said...

Peter P, as usual, on the money. Yes; on the money too re RW Jenson and CE Gunton. Yet, I would also point out that the likes of MR Barnes and L Ayres have over the past few years seriously modified CEG’s views, notably on Augustine - which is rather sad, given Gunton’s untimely death; he cannot join the fray!

The old de Régnon thesis, attempting to contrast how Greek East and Latin West supposedly achieved their respective understandings of the divine unity amidst trinity, has been shown up. On the contrary (while I am by no means anything like an Augustine authority!!), Augustine’s trinitarian theology is being read nowadays as being far more in line with Eastern sympathies than was hitherto supposed (esp. by CEG). What this means (IMHO) is we are perhaps approaching a truer universal understanding of this core Christian affirmation than has been the case for centuries - which cannot be bad for ecumenism (even while the likes of TEC’s core teachings re ‘God’ sadly ‘wander’ further from the Truth: a profound irony).