Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lay presidency rears its Ugley head

I noticed a few days ago that John Richardson has posted on Lay Presidency at The Ugley Vicar. The actual heading for the post is "Could lay celebration renew the Church of England?" I find it intriguing to think that lay presidency at the eucharist could be key to this renewal. To my mind other possibilities are worth exploring, including a new baptism of the church by the Holy Spirit. Anyway before I have found time from my busy life worshipping here and there to post about it, others have noticed this rearing of lay presidency, including a local colleague, Ron Smith, and an international colleague, Fr. Jonathan.

I myself once thought a bit about lay presidency, though not as I recall with any particular conviction in favour of it (and before anyone rises up to name Sydneyist tendencies in my own self, might I remind local readers here that the Diocese of Christchurch in the past (the 1980s as I recall) had a reasonably serious look at lay presidency as it grappled with a shortage of priests in rural areas of the diocese).

But in this week of preparing for our diocese's consideration of the Covenant, I am pleased that John Richardson has raised the matter. It is a salutary reminder that Anglicanism always contains the DNA of catholicity and of reform, so it maintains the tradition of ministry orders and questions them at the same time, thus invoking the need for contemporary statements of what being Anglican means and thus also statements which help us to know how to recognise Anglican life and to distinguish it from non- or un-Anglican life. Save for a considerable round of global Anglican discussion, of meetings to confirm such direction, and of a period of reception, lay presidency embraced by the village of Ugley or the Diocese of Sydney or the Province of Wherever could never claim to be Anglican.

Whatever lay presidency might renew in Church of England, it would not be its Anglican character!

For a useful antidote to a (bifurcating) ecclesiology which opposes the Covenant, read Stephen Kuhrt at Fulcrum.

32 comments:

carl jacobs said...

A few preliminary comments by way of foundation.

1. There is no office of 'bishop' in Scripture. Episkopos and Presbuteros both refer to the same office that is commonly called 'elder.' A bishop may have utility but he is not an essential feature of the Church. A bishop is a tradition. No argument against Lay Presidency can be traced back to the Scriptural authority of this office.

2. An Elder is not a priest in the NT sense of the word. He does not stand in a unique essential position to offer sacrifice and make intercession. There is One High Priest, and there is a Church of priests but there is no unique priestly role for an elder. Paul knew the word for 'priest', and deliberately chose not to use it in reference to this office. No argument against Lay Presidency can be traced back to the necessity of a unique priestly function that must and can only be exercised by an elder.

3. There is no Scriptural basis for the claim that only elders may preside at Communion. If I were to ask "Where stands it written?" there would be no answer given because there is no answer to give. The arguments against lay Presidency therefore originate in the much weaker authority of tradition. The burden of proof thus falls upon those who oppose Lay Presidency. The question they must confront is this: "Why may I bind the conscience of a brother without explicit Scriptural authority?"

The question does not prejudge the case, but the question must be answered. An argument from Tradition by its very nature cannot bind the conscience against the will.

It will quickly become apparent (as it always does) that opponents of lay presidency are zealous for two major principles.

1. To guard the authority of clergy by giving them an essential role in the sacrament.

2. To guard the right of the clergy to define the existence of a legitimate church.

(to be continued)

carl

carl jacobs said...

The Sacraments were given to the corporate church. They are not private possessions to be exercised at private discretion. They are corporate possessions to be performed in a corporate setting under the authority of Elders. These men are charged with the responsibility of protecting the Sacraments so that right doctrine is taught, wrong doctrine is opposed, and those who participate are properly formed and prepared. For this we do have Scriptural warrant.

If the Elders must exercise oversight of the Sacrament, then what constitutes oversight? Do they need to be present? As with many other offices, the authority of an elder is not determined by proximity. It is determined by relationship. The Captain of a ship gives a command. He does not have to be physically present to give this command. The authority of his command proceeds from his position as Captain. It is enough for the crew to know that the Captain has issued the order. Likewise with an Elder. He make exercise oversight in the same way. If he properly vets and prepares those who would exercise this function on his behalf, then he has guarded the sacrament and fulfilled his responsibility. He is likewise responsible for any actions which they may take under the scope of his authority.

So what will be set against this argument? The first is a concern over the place of clergy in the church. If the clergy aren't essential to the Sacraments then some fear that people will begin to see the clergy as expendable. To attach the clergy to the Sacrament addresses this problem by making the presence of clergy essential to the existence of the church. There is a valid concern here. Elders must be carefully chosen. But of course a properly taught church will never reject the need or qualification for elders because the office of elder is a Scriptural mandate. An elder hold authority in the church. One does not need to create special roles for clergy to set them apart. One needs only teach proper ecclesiology.

The second concern involves the establishment of churches. A true church is defined by three marks: Gospel, Sacrament, and Discipline. Church authorities are concerned to limit the creation of new churches by asserting that there can be no sacrament in the church without the approval of higher authority. A group of men cannot just 'start a church.' They must instead receive approval from authority and get an approved clergyman. Otherwise - no sacrament, and therefore no true church. There is a valid concern being addressed here as well. Three men and a baby might not be the best starting formation for a church. There must be limits and boundaries lest we see the creation of many churches of the untaught and the unstable.

Lay Presidency is therefore seen principally as a threat to the legitimate authority structure of the church. While these concerns are valid, they are not necessarily dispositive. It seems quite reasonable that lay presidency can be instituted underneath the authority of an Elder without threatening ecclesial chaos. The sacramental function simply needs to be kept under the authority of an Elder in order to fulfill the Scriptural mandate to guard the Sacrament. This allows for an expansion of the ministry without risking the boundaries that prevent people from forming churches without thought or preparation.

carl

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

This topic has been debated at length on Stand Firm:
Here: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/26529

and
Here:http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/26545/

liturgy said...

Easter Season greetings!

1) The Ugley Vicar’s silly, confused, and confusing poll asks:
“The acceptance of lay-celebration (adminstration) of the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion) would have a beneficial effect on the life and witness of the Church of England.”

My answer is we have lay-celebration (someone else will have to explain his hyphen to me). If all present are not celebrating the “Lord's Supper (Holy Communion)” then there is a lack. As Sacrosanctum Concilium (a primary document in any contemporary liturgical renewal) states, “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit”.

Similarly, I seldom am present at a Eucharist where there is not lay administration.

Whatever The Ugley Vicar thinks he is asking, and whatever his readers (who presumably visit there because they normally agree with The Ugley Vicar) think he is asking – his poll results are massively against the position he then goes to advocate for.

2) The comments by Carl Jacobs are so confused it is difficult to know where to start.

Certainly he highlights the total inadequacy of the sola scriptura position which results in people just being able to make up whatever they like, as is evidenced by the every-fragmenting, ever-increasing number of sola-scriptura denominations and communities, conflicting in beliefs and teachings, and each claiming the Bible alone as their source.

I tire of repeating: whatever process Carl and others think resulted in the defining of the canon of accepted, inspired documents amongst others circulating in the early church, a not dissimilar process was at work in defining the order of the church. I’m old fashioned enough to think the Spirit was at work in this process.

As to nonsense such as “An Elder is not a priest in the NT sense of the word”. Facepalm. The word “priest” derives from Presbuteros, the very word that Carl is translating as “elder”.

3) Peter, you appear to have a tendency, please correct me if I am wrong, to repeatedly use “Anglican” like some sort of voluntary, self-defining club.

Eg. Sea scouts have a dark blue shirt with a Scouts New Zealand logo and embroidered fern on the pocket. They have a certain structure etc. Making changes to Sea scouts structure or uniform people can argue “this or that is not the Sea scouts way…” etc.

BUT THERE IS NOTHING INTRINSIC to the Sea Scouts way – it is a human construct. A human agreement.

When you are arguing for “Anglican” approaches etc. it appears to me you are arguing to keep the Anglican club approach going. This means that when you argue for the “Covenant” for example, it is not so much that it contains the threefold order (bishops, priests, deacons) as intrinsic to Christianity – but as descriptive of the way “Anglicans” do things – to keep “Anglicans” distinct.

I must say I have little interest in keeping the “Anglican” club going – I am interested in Christianity, and what God intends for Christianity, and for working towards what God intends.

Christ is risen!

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

carl's extensive thinking here gives absolutely no reason why the Anglican Churches should resile from their tradition of ordained ministerial Orders.

No amount of 'yakker' is going to convince most of us who believe in the apostolic mission of the Church Catholic. And that's the faithful laity, as well as clergy. If you don't believe it, carl, just try asking them.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for all comments here!

Only time to respond to one point: Bosco, "Anglican" in this context is not about keeping the club going but about fostering and supporting the growth and development of Christianity with particular reference to the one bit of it where someone might pay attention to what I am saying, i.e. the Anglican bit.

Tim Chesterton said...

Bosco, John's comments are currently running about 60% to 40% against. That's against, I agree, but not 'massively' so.

carl jacobs said...

Liturgy.

The comments by Carl Jacobs are so confused it is difficult to know where to start.

There is nothing 'confused' about my position. It is both consistent and coherent.

As to nonsense such as “An Elder is not a priest in the NT sense of the word”.

It's not nonsense at all. There is no modern translation the casts either presbuteros or episkopos as 'priest.' I didn't invent the word 'elder.' I read it in the pastoral epistles. Why is that? Did Paul simply not know the Greek word for 'priest' where priest is defined as 'one who offers sacrifice and makes intercession?' An elder is not a NT re-creation of the OT temple priesthood.

The word “priest” derives from Presbuteros, the very word that Carl is translating as “elder”.

Yes, I know that, and thank you for so charitably assuming that I didn't. All your statement indicates is that there is an ambiguity in the English language that does not exist in the Greek. That's what I tried to convey by adding the qualification 'in the NT sense of the word.' Paul was not confused about the difference. A priest offers sacrifice and makes intercession on behalf of those who cannot. An elder has no such responsibility or authority. He is not an Alter Christus. There is no scriptural basis to suggest that an elder is necessary to Holy Communion because he fulfills some essential priestly function.

I tire of repeating: ... a not dissimilar process was at work in defining the order of the church.

There is of course a slight ontological difference between Scripture and whatever extra-biblical traditions you would like to cover with the mantle of divine revelation. The fact that you assert some 'process' that is 'guided' by the Holy Spirit does not make into theopneustos the traditions that result from that process. And liberals would have a much easier time making this argument if they didn't kick it to the curb anytime their tradition conflicts with the latest cause du jour. Like for example women's ordination and homosexuality. Plus I will take this statement as an admission that you cannot sustain your argument with Scripture since you immediately appealed to an extra-biblical process for determining church order.

Certainly he highlights the total inadequacy of the sola scriptura position which results in people just being able to make up whatever they like

A member of a church that is preaching the normalization of homosexuality shouldn't go around throwing stones about people making up whatever they want. In any case, you vastly overstate the divisions between Protestant churches. The disagreements between various Protestant churches are actually quite constrained. And organization unity is a weak form of unity. True unity is found in a common Gospel. belonging to a different church organization doesn't break that fundamental unity. I know a Baptist minister who debated a Presbyterian about baptism on Saturday, and then preached from his opponent's pulpit on Sunday. That is true unity.

Certainly he highlights the total inadequacy of the sola scriptura position

Perhaps you should demonstrate that weakness with actual examples instead of broad and false generalizations.

carl

Tim Chesterton said...

I find this all a little distracting from the genuine pastoral issues at hand.

The Anglo-Catholic revival has made a weekly Eucharist the central act of Anglican worship. Such a Eucharist needs an ordained priest to preside. And in most Anglicam provinces, at least in the west, such a priest needs a master's degree and (less often, but still most of the time) a full-time job.

These factors, added together, are the cause of much of this tension.

Many of us who have worked in far-flung rural dioceses have done the 250 miles of Sunday driving necessary to maintain these contradictions. When I worked in the Diocese of the Arctic there were isolated northern communities that had Eucharists four times a year when a priest could visit, and the rest of the time had Morning Prayer led by local catechists/lay readers.

'Let's have a wider ordination', say the opponents of lay presidency. Yes, but the general movement seems to be going in the other direction. If there are dioceses in the Anglican Church which have embarked on a massive strategy of ordaining all their lay-readers, I haven't come across them.

Something's got to give. Either we have to stop insisting on a weekly communion, or we have to ordain a lot of (non M.Div.) volunteer local clergy, or we have to accept lay-presidency.

carl jacobs said...

Father Ron Smith

No amount of 'yakker' is going to convince most of us who believe in the apostolic mission of the Church Catholic.

No, I suppose it won't. You are free to believe what you want. But your belief has to be founded on some legitimate authority somewhere. If only you could tell us what that authority was...

I never cease to be amazed that people will strain jot and tittle over who leads a liturgy from the front of a church even as they casually seek to legitimize that which God calls unnatural, and sinful, and an abomination. Worship is not found in liturgy and ritual but it Spirit and Truth.

carl

Joshua Bovis said...

Tim comment I think is very helpful (thankyou Tim!)

Something's got to give. Either we have to stop insisting on a weekly communion, or we have to ordain a lot of (non M.Div.) volunteer local clergy, or we have to accept lay-presidency.

Case in point. Sydney Diocese and Newcastle Diocese (I am from the latter). Sydney diocese is for lay presidency, they may even already practice diaconal presidency. Newcastle ordains OLM (Ordained Local ministers) who are non-stipendary priests whom most don't have a B.Th/M.Div/B.Min/B.D.

Regarding the whole issue, while I acknowledge that there is no Biblical prohibition for lay people to preside over the Eucharist, I think the notion of lay presidency is not a good idea.

1.Although it is not heretical, it is not Anglican in that it departs from the Anglican understanding of the threefold order of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and their respective roles.

2. It harms a Christian brother or sisters conscience to have lay presidency and creates a stumbling block. To do this would be very unloving.

3 I believe that there are bigger hills to die on than this one and my concern is that a diocese pushing this will feed a perception that they don't care about the wider Anglican Church.

4.I have noticed that those pushing for lay presidency are Reformed Anglicans. Yet there are many Reformed Anglicans who disagree with lay presidency. If it causes division and concern amongst Anglicans then I don’t believe it is worth it.

5. For argument’s sake - just say that those who are wanting this think that those who don’t are the weaker brother or sister, would not Romans 15:1 apply?
By the way I am not suggesting that those are against lay presidency (myself included) are weak, but all of God’s people are obligated to strengthen, encourage and build up each other.

6. I believe that Presiding over the Eucharist is an act of headship and therefore is to be reserved for the Ordained Priests/Presbyters of the Parish.

Peter Carrell said...

Edited comment from Ron Smith:

Father Ron Smith has left a new comment on your post "Lay presidency rears its Ugley head":

"Worship is not found in Liturgy"
- carl jacobs -

That is if you're not part of one of the catholic and apostolic Churches. And I suspect, carl, you may not be.

And as for Tim Chesterton, you may not find many Masters Degrees amongst the clergy in New Zealand, (except as lecturers at St. john's College), but then I suspect a Moore College Masters' may not be equivalent to a N.Z. L.Th.

What matters, is not the degree of education, but rather the degree to which the priest is in communion with Christ in the Mass.

[ad hominem comment omitted]
Happy Easter, everyone!

carl jacobs said...

FRS

The priests of the Egyptian gods were zealous to say the correct words at the correct times, because they were invoking magic rituals. Proper form bound the gods to do their bidding. To say it wrong was therefore disaster. The form had to be exactly right. One of the true freedoms of Christianity was that form was subsumed into substance. Worship became an expression of a relationship with God instead of an external ritual form. If you truly think that worship is found in the proper execution of liturgy and ritual, then you need to go read the OT. Worship begins in the heart.

You condemned me for quoting the words of Christ in John 4. "He who worships must worship in Spirit and in Truth." It is a condemnation I will gladly own.

carl

Shawn said...

I'm not in favour of Lay Presidency myself, as far as the Anglican Church is concerned (for other churches with different traditions it is perfectly appropriate), nevertheless I agree with Carl that true worship is in Spirit and Truth, and that ritual is not essential to true worship, though it can be a help.

Like Carl I find it frankly very strange that people who are happy to ignore large swathes of clear scriptural teaching, especially on marrrage and sexuality, will at the same time insist on a kind of liturgical fundamentalism, often on issues that are not in themselves taught in Scripture.

Sola Scriptura is not inadequate as Bosco claims, it is inconveniant to liberal theology. That is the real reason for the opposition to it. Homosexuality cannot be affirmed through Scriptural warrant or argument, thus the authority of Scripture must be sidelined and downgraded so the liberal agenda can roll on its merry way unimpeded by God's Word.

Tim Chesterton said...

Joshua thanks for your comments. I would say a couple of things in response.

As to what is or is not Anglican, that has been a moving target for centuries. Richard Hooker would have been aghast at the idea of an Anglican minister calling himself 'Father' and talking about our communion service as a 'Mass'; now it is accepted as a part of Anglican comprehensiveness. I have heard people talk about weekly communion services as an essential feature of Anglicanism, to which my response is always 'You've just disenfranchised the entire eighteenth century!'

'Threefold order' - yes, we have it in name, but in practice our bishops, priests and deacons fulfil entirely different roles from those of the early church. Elders or presbyters, as 'Acts' suggests, were modelled on the Jewish synagogue governing structure. They were not 'one man ministry teams' (or one woman ministry teams), and they were not all preachers, as 1 Timothy makes clear. It seems that each congregation had a team of presbyters, and I get the impression that they were more like a cross between our church vestry members, lay readers, and clergy, together. If we were following the NT pattern we would be ordaining our lay readers and vestry members as presbyters. Furthermore, our deacons for the most part are in probation on the way to being priests; in the early church they were in charge of caring for the poor and needy in the congregation. Do we use the same names? Yes. Do they do the same jobs? No.

I am not a 'Reformed Anglican'. Evangelical, yes, with a strong admiration for John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, and Glen Stassen as teachers of Christian discipleship.

Father Ron Smith says:

And as for Tim Chesterton, you may not find many Masters Degrees amongst the clergy in New Zealand, (except as lecturers at St. john's College), but then I suspect a Moore College Masters' may not be equivalent to a N.Z. L.Th.

I'm not entirely sure what a 'Moore College Masters' has to do with me, Ron - I'm not even sure where Moore College is; could you please elaborate?

Anonymous said...

Carl Jacobs is correct on the Biblical material, and Bosco consistently misses the point. 'presbuteros' in the NT doesn't mean 'hiereus' (Lat. sacerdos, Heb. cohen), it is simply the word for 'elder' (zaqen). All this was established long ago in Lightfoot's 'Apostolic Ministry'.
Those who adopt the post-biblical model of monepsicopacy that seems to have arisen sometime in the 2nd century have a problem on their hands vis-a-vis:
1. non-episcopal churches
2. Rome and Constantinople.
Bosco surely knows that women's ordination is, on those terms, a schismatic innovation that violates catholic order.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Tim, you must be the only Anglican Evangelical who has never heard of Moore College, Sydney. To bring some light to my remarks on Sydney's movement towards Lay-presidency, Moore College is probably the spiritual powerhouse of the Sydney Diocese. The Ugley-Vicar is one of its graduates.

Kurt said...

Carl’s viewpoint is practically identical to the viewpoint expressed by Puritan preachers during the “pamphlet war” that took place in Connecticut and Massachusetts during the 1720s and 1730s, so ably upheld on the Episcopal side by polemicists such as the Rev. Dr. Timothy Cutler and the Rev. John Checkley. Amazing! (Most historians today agree that the Calvinists lost that “war;” it was the beginning of the end of their hegemony.) The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Kurt said...

“Something's got to give. Either we have to stop insisting on a weekly communion, or we have to ordain a lot of (non M.Div.) volunteer local clergy, or we have to accept lay-presidency.”—Tim Chesterton

There is a much more Anglican alternative to lay presidency—which, to my mind, may be fine in Baptist or Methodist churches, but is certainly inappropriate for us. Weekly communion from the Reserved Sacrament (or, Extended Communion, as Fr. Carrell likes to call it), administered by licensed eucharistic lay ministers, is a simple and cost-effective way of approaching this problem in an Anglican manner.

It should be a non-controversial solution as well. Anglican churches in Scotland and America have been using the Reserved Sacrament for the sick and the dying for centuries—long before the rise of Anglo Catholicism and the contemporary traditions that “Ritualism” engendered in the latter 19th century.

This “received custom” was probably introduced into New World Anglicanism during the first third of the 18th century by Non-juring Scottish Episcopal priests, many of whom settled in the Northeast (e.g., New Jersey, New York, and the New England colonies). These Scottish clergy were very influential in the development of the American High Church tradition. Prior to Anglo Catholicism, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved here in ambries placed in church sacristies. (My own church, whose current structure dates from 1865, has an old ambry in the sacristy, which was used for Reservation long before the current tabernacle was placed on the high altar.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Tim Chesterton said...

Tim, you must be the only Anglican Evangelical who has never heard of Moore College, Sydney. To bring some light to my remarks on Sydney's movement towards Lay-presidency, Moore College is probably the spiritual powerhouse of the Sydney Diocese. The Ugley-Vicar is one of its graduates.

In that case, Ron, I'm even more surprised that you mentioned it in reference to me, as I live approximately 8000 miles from Sydney! Your comment now seems even more cryptic than before.

Tim Chesterton said...

Extended communion is not the same as weekly communion from the reserved sacrament. Extended communion is when bread and wine from a service at the church are taken immediately to sick and shut in members of that congregation. Reserved sacrament is where consecrated bread and wine are set aside, either (1) by a visiting priest who comes every two or three months and consecrates the elements on the altar of the parish church where they will be used, or (2) where consecrated bread and wine from somewhere else are brought into another parish and kept there for use at communion.

The first is clearly an extension of the congregation's own Eucharist and a means of extending it to those members who cannot be present. The congregation is still carrying out the Lord's command 'Do this in remembrance of me...' That is not the case with the Reserved Sacrament, when a congregation can go many months without actually using the prayer that remembers Jesus, the Eucharistic prayer. I say this from personal experience, as I was a Church Army captain in charge of missions in the Diocese of the Arctic where we were visited by a priest twice a year. The rest of the time, we used Reserved Sacrament, which I found entirely unsatisfactory, as the prayer in which we actually remember Jesus' death and resurrection (according to his command) was never used.

By the way, this is not a non-controversial answer to the problem; reserved sacrament services are clearly forbidden by the 39 Articles and those Anglicans who continue to see the 39 Articles as carrying any weight would of course find the use of reserves sacrament problematic.

liturgy said...

Easter Season greetings

I am not going to respond to the ad hominem parts of comments, ones that are distracting, and irrelevant. Tiresome in the extreme.

Yes, Tim, The Ugley Vicar’s votes in favour are rallying now with 42 people strongly agreeing, and 32 agreeing. As I indicated, the wording of the question is so confused that I could agree.

Tim, you say you live just across the ditch but are unaware of “dioceses in the Anglican Church which have embarked on a massive strategy of ordaining”. Pop across the ditch to NZ some time. Wellington is well known for ordaining 30 or so at a time.

Carl suddenly shifts the discussion by introducing “priest is defined as 'one who offers sacrifice and makes intercession'” – your definition – not mine. In a complex discussion such as this, I’d prefer to stay with the clear original words than play the word-games followed here.

Carl states: “There is of course a slight ontological difference between Scripture and whatever extra-biblical traditions you would like to cover with the mantle of divine revelation.” I presume he includes the actual biblical canon, the list of what are scriptures and what are not. Yes, I include the canon as an “extra-biblical tradition” and repeat again that I see God’s Spirit in the production of that list. As Carl himself says, “your belief has to be founded on some legitimate authority somewhere. If only you could tell us what that authority was...”

Carl seeks a “weakness with actual examples [of the difficulty with sola scriptura] instead of broad and false generalizations”. He just provided one: baptism. Sola scriptura Christians cannot agree on baptism: the age, the amount of water, the words to use, whether it is necessary for being a Christian, whether it is necessary for receiving communion, whether one can be baptised more than once, etc. For the rest of us in Christian history such an inadequacy looks pretty peculiar!

Christ is risen!

Bosco

Tim Chesterton said...

Bosco, I don't remember saying I lived 'across the ditch'. If you live in NZ then I live across a pretty big ditch from you. I thought that was plain from my comments about the Diocese of the Arctic. But then again, I may not speak the language and 'ditch' may be a NZ euphemism for 'Pacific Ocean'; if so, my apologies!

What I actually said was 'a massive strategy of ordaining lay readers'.

carl jacobs said...

Liturgy

Carl suddenly shifts the discussion...

I did?

... by introducing “priest is defined as 'one who offers sacrifice and makes intercession'”

I introduced that definition in the second paragraph of the very first post on this thread. How does that constitute "suddenly shifting the discussion?"

... your definition – not mine.

No, it's not "my definition." It is the function of a priest as presented in both the Old and New Testament. If you think Scripture presents another understanding of priestly function, then I would be interested to hear it.

In a complex discussion such as this, I’d prefer to stay with the clear original words...

Which clear original words would those be? Certainly you are not going to suggest the word 'priest' are you? Do you just intend to ignore the words actually written by Paul?

... than play the word-games followed here.

There are no word games here. In a complex discussion, it's important to avoid ambiguity in the terms used. I was simply being careful with my terms because I know there is an ambiguity in the usage of the word 'Priest' in English. I know a Calvinist rector who calls himself a priest and yet rejects the sacerdotal priesthood. I know a Roman Catholic Priest who accepts the entire concept of the Sacramental priesthood. Those two concepts of priesthood are mutually exclusive, and yet they both use the same word. Yet the original words in Greek are clear. There is no ambiguity.

Regarding Sola Scriptura and the alleged 'weaknesses' thereof. I have no trouble defending this doctrine from the kinds of attacks you have just raised, but that is not germane to the question I wanted you to answer. I wanted you to address how Scripture speaks to the issue that is the subject of this thread. The statements I made are not controvertible, and yet you said I highlighted the 'total inadequacy of the sola scriptura position.' I wanted you to tell me how I did that.

carl

Shawn said...

Bosco states:

"He just provided one: baptism. Sola scriptura Christians cannot agree on baptism: the age, the amount of water, the words to use, whether it is necessary for being a Christian, whether it is necessary for receiving communion, whether one can be baptised more than once, etc."

I do not think that the issue of different approaches to baptism is a very good argument against Sola Scriptura. If that was the case then there would not be any differences on various issues in Churches that do not teach Sola Scriptura, such as the Roman and Eastern churches. Yet there are substantive differences between them.

That there are differences which lead to separation is a fact in all branches and forms of Christianity. Whether they teach Sola Scriptura or not has no bearing on that, just ask the Old Believers in Russia. So the mere fact of differences between Sola Scriptura churches is not in itself a particularly strong argument against the doctrine itself. The issue of human sin is a far more likely cause for the divisions within the universal Church.

I do not think that any mainstream Evangelical would disagree with the view that the Holy Spirit was sovereignly guiding the production and acceptance of the Biblical canon.

Sola Scriptura is not an infallible means for determining Christian doctrine, but then neither is Tradition or the Magesterium of the RC. Sola Scriptura, rightly understood, is more a foundational starting point that allows the supremacy of teaching and doctrine to rest in God's authority, rather than the traditions and speculations of men. This does not mean there will not be differences in interpretation and understanding, but it still remains the best method for beginning the process of determining doctrine, and it is best placed to avoid the dangers of theological corruption of the Gospel that can be seen in the late middle ages in the RC.

Carl is right that issues like Baptism or church order aside, conservative Protestant churches that teach Sola Scriptura have largely maintained a great deal of basic unity in understanding the essentials of the Gospel itself and its message.

On the other hand, those mainline Protestant churches that have abandoned the doctrine, have, in a very short space of time, declined into a degree of theological anarchy and outright heresy that has reached absurd proportions. As examples witness John Spong, Don Cupitt and Lord Geering.

Sola Scriptura churches may disagree about Baptism. But a few fringe sects aside, they do not disagree that God is real and personal, and that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God who died for our sins and literally rose from the dead.

Yet these and virtually every other essential doctrine of the Church have been attacked in those churches that have abandoned Sola Scriptura.

So by comparison, it seems to me that Sola Scriptura is a far better foundation for Truth and Unity than more liberal approches.

liturgy said...

Tim, your “massive strategy of ordaining lay readers” cannot apply in NZ Anglicanism, as we do not have lay readers. I was just pointing you to the nearest equivalent.

Shawn, thanks for raising Lord Geering – a minister who was tried for heresy in a sola scriptura denomination. And acquitted. Obviously his beliefs are in disagreement with yours. Which is my very point.

Peter Carrell said...

Perhaps we could get back to lay presidency. I will post a new post on the matter.

liturgy said...

Carl is struggling to understand which “clear original words” I’d prefer to stay with when discussing presidency etc. The Greek will do fine, thanks.

Anonymous said...

When did LLOYD Geering become LORD Geering? His acquittal for heresy (and he was a heretic and is now no longer a Christian) simply demonstrated how liberal NZ Presbyterianism had become.

As for the Greek: NT ministers are not called 'hiereis', but episkopoi ('overseers')and prebuteroi ('elders'). 'hiereis' is translated as sacerdotes in Latin and renders Heb. cohanim.
It doesn't have sacrificial overtones. The 'sacrificial' understanding of the eucharist as the continuation of OT sacrifices by a new Aaronic priesthood is an idea found in the 2nd century but not in the New Testament.
If you have a 'Catholic' understanding of the sacred ministry, you cannot accept women's ordination as anything but a unilateral breach of order.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

(Slightly edited comment from Shawn)

Bosco,

"a minister who was tried for heresy in a sola scriptura denomination. And acquitted. Obviously his beliefs are in disagreement with yours. Which is my very point."

Except it is not really a point so much as an excuse. Moreover, Loyd Geering was not a Sola Scriptura Christian with a different understanding of Biblical teaching than me. He had abandoned Scripture entirely. That he was acquitted is only evidence of the corruption of liberalism, that had already taken hold in mainline denominations such as the PCNZ.

So your point has not been made. As far as I can tell your point is 'there is division in the Church thus Sola Scriptura is useless'. As I pointed out, this argument is weak in the extreme, as there is division throughout the Church, including amongst churches that do not teach Sola.
And the difference between me and Geering is not between two believers in Sola Scriptura, as Geering had abandoned that teaching.

So no real point of substance has been made by you against Sola Scriptura. [omitted words ... Shawn, please don't tell us about suspicions you have about what is going on inside other people's heads: effectively that is an 'ad hominem' comment because you are making a presumption about another person by speculating about what you think is going on which is unfair on the person concerned].

Kurt said...

Thank you, Tim, for pointing out the distinction between Extended Communion and Communion from the Reserved Sacrament. All of my life the only extended eucharistic fellowship I’ve witnessed has been from the Reserved Sacrament. I don’t know of any Episcopal priests, even those in rural areas, who celebrate the Holy Mysteries at home or hospital any more, even though the Prayer Book permits it. When I was growing up in the late 50s and early 60s, there were still two or three priests in our Deanery who celebrated “at the bedside.” Today, it’s all from the Reserved Sacrament. I think you may have a point that we are missing out on something nowadays. Nevertheless, given the choice between Communion from the Reserved Sacrament or “communion” celebrated by a layperson, I’ll take the Reserved Sacrament, with all of its possible limitations, every time, thank you!

Perhaps expanding the number of the Church’s non-stipendiary priests is the way forward in some areas. Indeed, as the Church in the West contracts, this may be the only option for small or scattered parishes that cannot share clergy—and not simply those located in the Arctic, either.

The Articles of Religion are not a touchstone for all Anglican churches, Tim. They never have been. The Scottish Episcopal church never had any such document until, I believe, 1792 when the Non-juror schism was healed in Britain. To this day I’m told that most folks in the Scottish Church think of the Articles as “foreign.” Here in the US, modified Articles of Religion were only adopted in 1801, and no one in the American Church—neither clergy nor lay—has ever been required to “subscribe” to them. Today, the Articles have been placed in the “historical documents” section at the end of the Prayer Book of 1979. Neither is the “Black Rubric” a touchstone for all Anglican churches. The Scottish and American Churches have never included it in their Prayer Books—and neither have their daughter churches throughout the world. The English model has never been the only model of Anglicanism, though for historical reasons, it may predominate in Canada.

As to what Hooker would or would not have been “aghast” at is open to personal opinion. I’m sure that there are some contemporary aspects of the Church Army in particular, and Evangelicalism in general, that would have stuck him as appalling.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Shawn said...

Peter,

"Shawn, please don't tell us about suspicions you have about what is going on inside other people's heads"

Fair enough, my apologies. Thinking it over today I realise I could have made the same point in a different way, without speculation about specific people's motives. I will try harder in the future to avoid this.