Thursday, July 7, 2016

Good news bad news presbyterianised Anglican world

Psephizo - Ian Paul - has had some great posts recently about specifically Anglican matters.

Ian Paul had a go at language we use about priesting (presbyterianising??) in this post with a provocative title, "Ordination does not make you a priest." (Which is correct, Jesus our Great High Priest became priest through crucifixion!)

That post has received a well-argued reply from Simon Oliver, Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at Durham, giving a 'catholic' perspective in response,

More recently, Psephizo has a delightful post on the virtues of a liberal catholic C of E parish, posted by Ian himself, a conservative evangelical. There is much to ponder in this post about what makes a church fruitful, including that challenging matter of connecting with men.

In difficult days for the 21st century church I concur 200% with Ian's observation that excellence in what we do matters.

Closer to home. Recently a friend observed of some posts of mine a week or three back, that perhaps I was being somewhat doomy and gloomy about our church. Fair point.I wouldn't want to over-egg some dispiriting features of church life because there is much which encourages and enlivens me. But there is a but. Some things are simply discouraging. Bishop Kelvin Wright's post about the next step in his diocese's journey to find not only a successor bishop but to determine how much of a bishop they can afford is both fearlessly honest and completely sobering. It forces readers to consider that our smallest pakeha diocese is facing real change because of real decline in participation.

Here is the question for ACANZP in the 21st century: is the Diocese of Dunedin the canary in the mineshaft of 21st century secular NZ?


Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter, for this item. Being aware of Ian Paul's provenance as a moderate Evangelical Churchman (like your good self?) with definite ideas about 'you know what', I was a wee bit surprised that he should have been asked to preach in the sort of 'Liberal Catholic' parish that he so well describes (not too unlike SMAA, Christchurch - except that, for us, you could add the use of incense at the Sung Mass). However, given the fact that the newly presiding priest was obviously a personal friend of the preacher, this could have accounted for his presence.

I note that you, too, have been a welcome presence at SMAA - a situation different from your own tradition - so I hope you will have been able to echo Ian's more thoughtful appreciation of the gender balance, the orderliness of the proceedings and other aspects of worship that may not be your normal (or preferred) milieu.

I did note that one of his commenters made the effort to put down the use of incense at the Anglo-Catholic church he once attended. However, bearing in mind the liturgical function of incense as mentioned in the Book of Revelation (8: 3-5) - where the "incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints" - perhaps one ought to get used to the smell, if one hopes to enter the Courts of heaven! Also, it's good against termites!

All in all, I thought Ian Paul did appreciate the undoubted fact that, in the Anglican Churches of our Communion, there is a great variety of ways in which the worship of God is practised - perhaps a true reflection of the infinite variety of persons God has created, and whom God calls to attend on God in worship, fellowship, and sacramental renewal.

Father Ron Smith said...

Without going into the obviously presbyterian theory of priesthood embraced by Ian Paul in his article on that tricky subject, one can only go back to Hooker's 'Anglican' description, which clearly identifies the ontological reality of Christian ministerial priesthood - derived from, of, and through Christ, Himself. I suppose that is one of the important differences between a catholic understanding of priesthood and that of some evangelicals, for whom priesthood is a job rather than a vocation - a direct call from God, recognised by the Church, and responded to by the person concerned. Priesthood is a privilege, but it also has grave responsibilities that must be fulfilled. A priest is not, necessarily, a more important person than a layperson, just with a different gift.