Women Bishops in the Church of England: The Chickens Are In the Roost

Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm finds Archbishop John Sentamu’s response about the propriety of women bishops disconcerting:

His appeal is to the supreme authority of scripture. How does the Archbishop of York answer?

Setamu calmly continued with the service, stating that the appointment of a female bishop was now “part of the law of the land…

The “law of the Land” is apparently of sufficient authority for the Archbishop and all those present to overrule an appeal to the bible. Nothing but Jesus’ return could have stopped this consecration from going forward – I understand that – but knowing the objection would be raised you might think Archbishop Setamu might have prepared some semblance of a biblical response (and there could only be a semblance) rather than simply appealing the authority of the state. I understand that England is, legally speaking, a “Christian” government and the Church of England a state church but she is supposedly and theoretically a state church under the supreme authority of the word of God.

As I said, the chickens have come home to roost.

That’s basically the bargain any state church like England’s (and to that we might add Germany and Russia) makes: we get a privileged status, but we’ll support you even when what you’re doing is against Divine authority.  I’ve predicted for a long time (and here also) that the Government, one way or another, would push for the ordination of women bishops, and now is “fast-tracking” them for the House of Lords.  And I felt that the Government would succeed.  Why should it be any other way with a state church?  And why do we expect a different result for same-sex civil marriage?

To some extent, all of this became clear in the thought experiment that is my fiction.  In the part that is online, the king of an absolute monarchy orders his Bishop and Primate to ordain a woman to the ministry:

“We have one more matter that needs to be settled here today,” Adam said, handing the Bishop yet another envelope.  The Bishop opened it; reading it produced a look of shock almost comparable to Desmond’s just a few minutes earlier.

“This is impossible,” the Bishop declared, looking at Adam.

“No, it’s not, and you know it,” Adam calmly replied.

“We don’t ordain women in this church—it’s against the laws of God.  Besides, we would have to change our canon law at our Convention.”

“I’m not asking for a change in canon law, if you would read the document carefully,” Adam replied. “I’m issuing a waiver so that Terry can fully be the chaplain to the Crown Prince and Princess.  It is well within my rights as head of this Church to issue such a waiver, which includes skipping making her a deacon, to save you a ceremony.”

In places where “democratic institutions” exist, it usually isn’t this direct.  But that just makes the process longer and more expensive.

My objections to women bishops in Anglican churches stem from two things: that most are revisionists and the issue of authority, something I went back and forth with the late “Ugley Vicar”, John Richardson.  Both can be solved, but not within the bounds many Anglicans can accept.

In any case, for a state church to be faithful to the Scriptures–with or without WO–requires that the sovereigns be likewise, and that’s scarce in the West these days.

God, His Unity and Perfection: More on the Being of God and His Eternal Beatitude

Continuing on in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, in this case 1,3 (the previous one is here):

I AM WHO AM. HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you. It is so that God defined himself.  It is to say that God is he in which non-being has no place, who thus is always, and always the same; who thus is unchangeable: who thus is eternal: all terms which have no explanation of themselves.  I AM WHO AM. And it is God who gives himself this explanation by the mouth of Malachi, when he said this through the prophet: For I am the Lord, and I change not.

God is thus an intelligence who cannot be ignorant of anything, neither doubt anything, neither learn anything, neither lose or acquire any perfection: for all of this is part of non-being.  Now God is he who is, him who is by essence.  How thus can one think that he who is, not be? Or that the idea which encompasses all being is not real? Or that, while one sees that the imperfect is, one could say, one could think, in hearing that which one thinks, that the perfect not be?

He who is perfect is happy, because he knows his perfection, for to know his perfection is a too essential part of perfection to miss being perfect.  O God, you are happy! O God, I rejoice in your eternal happiness! All of the Scripture preaches that the man who hopes in you is happy.  For a stronger reason, are you happy, yourself, O God, in whom one hopes.  Also St. Paul calls him expressly happy when he said to Timothy (I Tim 1:11;6:15,16): I announce to you these things according to the glorious Gospel of happy God; and then, It is he who has shown you in his time he who is happy and the only powerful: King of Kings and lord of lords, who along possesses immortality and is clothed in an inaccessible light, to whom belongs glory and an eternal empire.  O happy God, I adore you in your happiness.  Be praised forever for having me to be acquainted and know that you are always and changelessly happy.  Only you alone are happy and those who, knowing your eternal happiness, make it theirs.  Amen. Amen.

Then, We Couldn’t Get Married. Now, We’re Forced To.

Oh, the web we weave when we get charged up for a cause before we think things through:

Until recently, same-sex couples could not legally marry. Now, some are finding they must wed if they want to keep their partner’s job-based health insurance and other benefits.

With same-sex marriage now legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia, some employers that formerly covered domestic partners say they will require marriage licenses for workers who want those perks.

Now the “advocacy” people wake up:

Requiring marriage licenses is “a little bossy” and feels like “it’s not a voluntary choice at that point,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, an organization advocating for gay, lesbian and transgender people.

The LGBT leadership had a choice: it could have advocated for the abolition of civil marriage or the extension of the franchise.  They opted for the latter.  Now they feel the downside of their decision, including marriage penalties in the tax code and loss of some government benefits with marriage (especially if they make it to old age, an issue opposite-sex couples deal with extensively).

Another downside, of course, is that some people’s “domestic partners” are in fact relatives who are dependent on them for many things.  This exclusion is written into many domestic partner benefit programs to mimic the consanguinity prohibitions of marriage, which are absurd to either domestic partner programs or same-sex civil marriage.  That’s why, for example, I opposed Chattanooga’s domestic partner benefit ordinance, which was overturned in referendum.

But that’s what happens when you start bawling for “freedom to marry” and end up with more restrictions and red tape than you started with.

God, His Unity and Perfection: The Perfection and Eternity of God

This is from Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 1,2.  The previous elevation is here.

It is said: the perfect is not, it is only an idea of our spirit which goes rising from the imperfect which one sees with one’s eyes to a perfection which only has reality in thought.  This is the reasoning which the impious wants to do in his heart, senseless who does not dream that the perfect is the first itself and in our ideas and that the imperfect in all respects is nothing but a degradation.  Tell me, my soul, how do you hear nothing unless you are? How is privation, if not from the form it is taken from? How is imperfection, if not from the perfection it has fallen from?  My soul, do you not hear that you have reason, but imperfect, as she does not know things, she doubts, she goes astray and is mistaken? But how do you hear error, if it is not the privation of truth, and how is doubt and obscurity, if it is not from privation of intelligence and light?  Or how is ignorance, if it is not from privation of perfect knowledge? How is there dissoluteness and vice in the will if it is not from privation of rectitude, uprightness and virtue? Primitively there is an intelligence, a certain knowledge, a truth, a firmness, an inflexibility in good, a rule, an order before there is a decay of all things: in a word, there is perfection before there is a fall.  Ahead of all dissoluteness, there must be a thing which is itself a rule and which, unable to leave itself, can neither fail nor faint.  Here is a perfect being; here is God, perfect and happy nature.  The rest is incomprehensible and we can neither understand where it is perfect and happy nor where it is incomprehensible.

From where does the idea come that the impious does not know God and that nations and soon the entire world has not known him, since we carry inside of ourselves the idea of perfection? From where does this come, if not from a lack of attention and because man, given up to the senses and imagination, does not want, or cannot bring himself, to pure ideas as his spirit, weighed down with gross images, cannot carry simple truth?

Man, ignorant so that he knows change before changelessness, because he expresses change with a positive term and changelessness as the negation of change, does not want to dream that being changeless is being and to change is to not be.  Now being is, and it is known by its privation which is not being. Before those things which are not always the same, there is one which, always the same, does not suffer decline: and this one not only is, but also is always known, although not always picked out or distinguished by lack of attention.  But when recalled in ourselves, we become attentive to immortal ideas of which we carry in ourselves the truth, we will find that perfection is that which we know the first, then when we have seen, we only know the defect as a decline from perfection.

Sometimes We Wish Our Opponent’s Predictions Came True

I’ll bet that the Obama White House wishes that about this:

In March 2012, on the floor of the United States Senate, Mike Lee (R-UT) predicted that if Obama was reelected gas would cost $5.45 per gallon by the start 2015. Lee said that gas prices would rise 5 cents for every month Obama was in office, ultimately reaching $6.60 per gallon.

Raising the price of petrol is a long-term liberal dream, for a variety of reasons.  Doing so would carry out a number of their goals: making mass transit more attractive, making suburban sprawl less attractive, reducing carbon emissions.  European petrol prices are largely there because of high taxation.  But the left has been stymied in getting this done in the U.S., so they’ve resorted to other means, including impeding exploration and development of fossil fuels of all types, blocking the Keystone pipeline, etc.  The EPA’s “carbon dioxide as pollutant” initiative is the next phase of this effort.

Unfortunately the confluence of two events has set back this strategy.  The first is the development of fracking and the opening up of previously unavailable oil and natural gas reserves, which is making the U.S. energy self-sufficient for the first time in many years.  The second is the Saudis’ “go ahead, make my day” flooding of the market with oil, aimed primarily at the Iranians and secondarily at the Russians.

For the left, the drop in petrol prices is a classic case of “defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory”.

And there’s another prediction that needs some clarification, at least:

In September 2012, Mitt Romney predicted that if Obama is reelected “you’re going to see chronic high unemployment continue four years or longer.” At the time, the unemployment rate was 8.1% and had been between 8.1% and 8.3% for the entire year.

The only reason why we don’t have high unemployment rates these days is that, in the U.S., unemployment rates don’t take into consideration workers who have basically left the workforce.  Workforce participation is at its lowest since the late 1970’s; if people who have left the workforce were factored in, we’d have higher unemployment rates.  The high exit from the workforce has been facilitated by current “loose” policies on allowing people to go on disability and Obamacare’s indirect promotion of Medicaid.

Southern Republicans in particular need to go light on this issue.  With constituencies which are, to a large extent, descendants of people who didn’t come here to do the work or have been influenced by these people, both of these expansions have been popular down here.  We’ve already seen some pushback on the Medicaid issue in Louisiana; expect it elsewhere.

As far as the other two predictions are concerned, never underestimate the ability of the 1% to hold their deal together when the situation calls for it.

God, His Unity and Perfection: The Being of God

I am starting another series from Jaques-Bénigne Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, starting with the first one. This would be 1,1.

From all eternity, God is: God is perfect: God is happy: God is one. The impious asks: why is God? I answer him: why shouldn’t he be? Is it because he is perfect and perfection is an obstacle to being? Silly error! To the contrary perfection is the reason for being. Why should the imperfect be and the perfect not? It is to say: why is that which is more than nothing is, and that which is nothing is not? What is called perfect? A being to which nothing is lacking. What is called imperfect? A being to which something is lacking. Why is a being which lacks nothing non-existent, sooner than a being to which something is lacking? From where comes the idea that something is and that it cannot make nothing exist, if it is not because being is worth more than nothing; and, that nothing cannot prevail against being, and cannot prevent a being from being? But for the same reason, the imperfect cannot be worth more than the perfect, neither prevent the being from being.  Who can thus hinder that God is not and why the nothing of God which the impious imagines in his senseless heart, why, I say, this nothing of God carries itself on God’s being and is it worth more that God is not than he is? O God! One is lost in such a great blindness.  The impious loses himself in the nothing of God which he prefers to the being of God; and himself, this impious, does not dream to ask himself why he is.  My soul, reasonable soul, but whose reason is weak, why do you want to be and God is not?   Alas, are you worth more than God? Weak soul, ignorant soul, astray, full of errors, and uncertain of her intelligence; full in your will of weakness, of wandering, of corruption, of bad desires, is it necessary that you be and that certitude, comprehension, the full knowledge of the truth and the changeless love of justice and of rectitude not be?

Why I Support the Idea of Believers’ Baptism

My church’s news site recently noted a gathering down in Jamaica which was a consultation on believers’ baptism.  There were a couple of ministers from my church there, along with representatives of the World Council of Churches.

I’m always nervous when our ministers get involved with WCC people and events.  They are like young Siegfried, innocent and without fear, but unaware of the dangers that lurk.  (I used a Wagnerian analogy about my church in another context here.)  Most Pentecostal churches, as is the case with “Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology“, simply continued with believers’ (adult) baptism, although in this case the results were better.

My own saga with this is complicated.  The “five” years in decades seem to be replete with anniversaries good and bad alike.  Fifty years ago this year I was baptised in the Episcopal Church after a direct encounter with God which, among other things, made me ask whether I had been baptised or not.  My mother excused her lack of having me baptised as an infant on my poor health.  But it was an excuse; I think she, raised Southern Baptist, was deeply conflicted about pedobaptism, and used that (and my father’s indifference) to skip it.

In any case, we went to our Rector, Robert Appleyard, who later was Bishop of Pittsburgh and performed the first “legal” ordinations of women in the Episcopal Church.  He even agreed with my mother’s request for a private baptism.  He was unimpressed with my direct encounter with God, and well he should have been; it’s jaundiced my view of any kind of “preacher religion” since.

In any case most “Main Line” churches (along with their Catholic and Orthodox counterparts) practice pedobaptism, while most Evangelical and Pentecostal ones practice adult or “believers’ baptism” after a conscious profession of faith.  It seems to me that this is the New Testament pattern which got changed with changes in the church, most of them not for the better.  It’s an issue that is, in many ways, the “stickiest wicket” between me and my Anglican and Catholic roots.  Yet these and other churches are very insistent that infants be baptised.

The strongest theological justification of this came from Augustine, who taught that everyone comes into this world with original sin and that baptism cleanses this.  The alternative (I’m not sure whether it’s Augustinian or not, but the RCC taught it for many years) is that unbaptised infants, guilty of no other sins, literally ended up in Limbo, as Dante vividly illustrated.

Reformed types, while getting away from Limbo and in some cases a sacramental concept of baptism, nevertheless continued the practice of pedobaptism.  These churches, along with just about everyone else in Europe, regarded the concept of believers’ baptism that the Anabaptists set forth with horror, persecutions following.

In recent times we’ve seen even the RCC backtrack on the Limbo business, which in turn backtracks on the original sin problem.  But that’s lead to the emphasis (obsession?) with another aspect of baptism: the marking of a person as a Christian, albeit an infant with no decision-making capacity.  It’s analogous in some ways to the Islāmic concept that, once you’re born of a Muslim parent, you’re a Muslim and that’s it.  Christianity has never benefited from picking up bad Islāmic habits.  The most egregious manifestation of this is the Episcopal Church’s “Baptismal Covenant”, which I describe as “the Contract on the Episcopalians”.  Sometimes I think that the radical left in TEC thinks that this commits the faithful from the cradle to join every left-wing cause and vote Democrat.

The things that divide people on baptism, such as sacrament vs. ordinance, or immersion vs. sprinkling, or any of the others, in many ways obscure what is, as far as I am concerned, the central issue with baptism.  That central issue centres around how people become Christians and the nature of the church.

To be a Christian is a decision which is made possible by the grace of God.  That’s more obvious to people who have to prove and defend being a Christian more than those who either float along with the culture or don’t venture much outside their Christian circles.  Baptism, by all considered the initiation rite into Christianity, needs to be connected with that decision, which can only be done by someone with enough faculties to do so.  (And I’m not one to set the lower age limit too high on that, it depends on the person.)  To do otherwise is to make cultural Christianity–which is becoming a rarer and rarer bird these days–normative.  A reasonable reading of the New Testament should make it clear this is not the case.

Once a person has made such a decision and has been baptised, the next question comes up: what kind of church are they joining?  The Greek term ecclesia means the “called out ones”, but many have argued that restricting the church to true believers is too exclusivistic.  They use the “wheat and tares” parable to back themselves up.  But we need to ask the serious question: is the church a wheat field with tares, or a tare field with wheat?  Too many churches have been the latter, but we really don’t have the luxury of that any more, if we ever did.

This is why I think that believers’ baptism is the best.

Some Random Thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo Attack and Islam

It’s not easy to keep up with life and the world’s events at the same time, especially if your job isn’t–or job’s aren’t–to keep up with all of it.  Nevertheless I’d like to put down some random thoughts on the subject.  Most of it has appeared before in one form or another on this blog, but some of it bears repeating.

A lot of what I see on the subject bothers me because it is so shallow and banal.  In this country at least, that’s pretty much across the board, whether you’re discussing élite opinion or the opinion of what Todd Starnes calls “bitter America”.  Neither side of this country is ready to effectively deal with what’s going on, and the last decade plus has proven that, especially with two failed wars and a liberal construct that is now pretty much up in smoke.  Up in smoke? I honestly think that the reason the Occupant and his minions were AWOL from the Paris march is that they realise that their whole paradigm of themselves, Muslims and where the world can go is toast.  All the talk about Barack Obama being a Muslim notwithstanding, what he is is a transformational leftist who wanted to use Islam as a counterweight against his domestic political enemies. Shooting up a publication like Charlie Hebdo puts paid to such a strategy, and although the Paris march papers over that, reality cannot be changed.

Some in the chattering class have opined that Charlie Hebdo’s satire, to put it briefly, isn’t funny.  That’s a serious problem.  Philosophically, however, the founder’s philosophy matches John Lennon’s “Imagine”: if we could get rid of nations, religions, etc., the world would be fine.  What neither Charlie Hebdo nor others who support their idea figured on was that practitioners of the Middle Eastern way of politics would interpret that as a sign of weakness and act accordingly, both in the West and in places like Iraq and Syria.  If we’re going to continue to have free speech, free press, and the other freedoms we supposedly have in the West, we’re going to have to fight for them, both at home and elsewhere.  That creates problems for the left.  In a sense, when Barack Obama told the world that the future didn’t belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam, he was trying to tell his fellows on the left to cut a deal, and neither Charlie Hebdo nor those who shot the place up were in a mood to cut any deal.

One of the things that differentiates Islam from just about any other religion is that, in its system, public and private morality are an absolute unity.  There can be no separation of mosque and state in the umma.  Muslims used to tout this as an advantage over Christianity’s dualism in that regard, a dualism which, unfortunately, too many Christians have tried to change.  That’s something that liberals, themselves political animals par excellence, understood.  They thought they could manage this through their dominance in the media, government, educational system, etc.  Publications like Charlie Hebdo didn’t get the memo.  The only way the people who rule the West are going to “put the genie back into the bottle” (a good Islāmic concept) is to manage the religion the way it’s done in the Middle East and the way the Soviets did in Central Asia: through the appointment of imams, the regulation of mosques and religious schools, etc., all of which would basically be supervised by the state.  In the West that would mean the control of all religious institutions by the state and the end of religious freedom.  Liberals would love to do this to Christianity, but I frankly don’t think they have the guts to do this to Islam.

In some ways, such management would defeat the purpose of Muslims coming to the West. One of the things Muslims discover when they get here is that the freedom of religion that we’ve had up until now means that they can practice their Islam any way they think they should, just as we can do in Christianity. They don’t have to worry about some state-appointed imam telling them what to do and turning them in when they don’t do it.  Many Muslims find this liberating; that’s why many Muslims are genuinely patriotic, something that doesn’t need to be overlooked.  The downside of coming here is that they find a society where their serious code of conduct is not followed by the general population and even laughed at.  This is hard to take, and here is where old habits die hard; it’s easy to slide into what is called “radicalisation”, especially when your imam is a serious Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood type, telling you repeatedly that you too can extend the “region of peace” if you conduct jihad.  That is what has authorities (especially in Europe) buffaloed by the stiffening resolve of second generation Muslims to “keep the faith”.

At this point I don’t see a really good way out of this.  We have a leadership that alternates between weakness, bullying of groups which won’t fight back, and boorish provincialism on the nature of their opponent.  Topped with the fact that they don’t believe in the civilisation they’ve inherited and we’ve got a serious problem on our hands.

As for what Christians should do, the Charlie Hebdo incident changes nothing.  We’re still in the same situation as usual, trapped in the West in countries that really don’t want us any more and Muslims who really didn’t want us to start with.  If we want to do something constructive, we should focus our prayer, relief and other efforts in places where we’re still valued (such as Nigeria) where the unfolding tragedy of Boko Haram dwarfs what happened in Paris.  Boko Haram is a reaction to the simple fact that Christianity is growing very rapidly in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, sometimes at the expense of Islam.  Instead of endless “me-too” we need to be proactive when our “culture” isn’t.

As my CFD I professor said, we have to play the cards we’re dealt, and it’s our turn.

The Comeback of Stained Glass

Who would have thunk it?

“However, there are new discussions that stained glass is seen more favorably by younger generations.”

DeGroot cited recent research conducted by the Barna Group, which found that Millennials preferred more traditional looking sanctuaries instead of so-called trendy buildings.

Stained glass windows are one of the fonder memories of the church I grew up in.  But they’re routinely assailed in many Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, especially among our “trendier” church leaders.

Readers of this blog, however, would have gotten a different view. From this 2011 post:

I had a student who went to an old-line, downtown church that has morphed into something of a “mega-church” (“mega” relative to the size of the community it’s in.)  As a result of this they built a new multi-million dollar complex in a more suburban setting.  But my student wasn’t all that pleased.  As we were standing around, he confessed to me that he preferred the old church they were in because it had stained glass windows and he could look at them and enjoy them during the service.

My years of teaching at the university level have convinced me that there’s a lot of conventional wisdom about Millennials that could stand some revision.  I don’t see the alienation from earlier generations that, say, the Boomers exhibited, although given the way the Boomers have done distrust and alienation are certainly in order.  The business about the stained glass is part of that, and it should make a few people stop and think.

Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology: It Depends on What ‘Is’ Is

I must have been in an especially catty mood when I posted this on Stand Firm in Faith:

Clinton stated that “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Clinton was only stealing a concept from Southern Baptist Eucharistic theology.

I actually got a thumbs up for that.

Nevertheless, it’s something that’s bugged me for a long time.  It’s a statement that conservatives use to prove that Bill Clinton was a proverbial liar, and one under oath to boot.  Liberals try to explain it with stuff like this:

But it turns out they were right: Bill Clinton really is a guy who’s willing to think carefully about “what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” This is way beyond slick. Perhaps we should start calling him, “Existential Willie.”

But with deep family roots in Arkansas Baptist life (Clinton was raised down Arkansas 9 from where my mother grew up) and apologies to those relatives, I think both assessments are wide of the mark.  Bill Clinton was not lying when he said this, not deliberately at least.  He was just lifting a concept from Southern Baptist Eucharistic theology, one echoed every time the ushers (or Communion Committee, the ability of Southern Baptists to form committees is the stuff of legend) get out the big trays.  And although that’s typically not very often, one doesn’t typically get deposed very often either.

For it’s part the New Testament is pretty clear in its concept of what the Eucharist (or Lord’s Supper) really “is”:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.  (Matthew 26:26-29 KJV)

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20 KJV)

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 11:23-27 KJV)

Until the Reformation Christianity uniformly confessed that, when Our Lord said “is” he meant “is”, up to and including the concept of transubstantiation, which Aquinas details in the Summa.

With the breakage of the Reformers we start seeing a variety of explanations of how this “is”, something that Bossuet has more fun than a human being ought to have in his History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches.  But the biggest variation, one that started with Huldreich Zwingli, basically stated that “is isn’t”; that it’s just bread from start to finish and that the Lord’s Supper is purely symbolic.  That “theology” made its way into many Evangelical churches, including the Southern Baptist Convention.

When Bill Clinton was under oath and under pressure, its little wonder that he would revert to the teachings of his childhood church, where they taught that the Bible was literally true from the six days of Genesis onward, and then get to the night Our Lord was betrayed and stated with equal confidence that the “is” wasn’t and that it’s just a symbol.

The Baptists have presented a vision of Christian life that many around them have objected to, not the least of which were the Pentecostals.  But same Pentecostals, who never cease to remind us that “…with his stripes we are healed”. (Isaiah 53:5 KJV) unthinkingly adopted the Baptist concept of the Lord’s Supper.

Now we are in yet another political cycle, with another Clinton and (sigh) another Bush.  Conservatives sit smugly in their Evangelical churches, doubtless not happy with the possibility of this match-up but confident that defeating Clinton will be a great victory.  But the next time the big tray comes around and their minister shies away from proclaiming the Real Presence, they’d better stop and think that they are partaking in the spirit of Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic theology.

Sailing the Last Voyage with Newton and Pascal