The Polyepiscopacy of the Early Church

An intriguing (and sensible) suggestion from Trevor Gervase Jalland’s The Church and the Papacy:

Though there are, as we believe, adequate grounds for rejecting the view that Clement formally identifies episcopi with presbyters, yet in the face of this evidence it appears equally impossible to deny that he refers to the episcopate in a way that suggests that it was held by more than one person in a single community. It may be pointed out further that we are bound to infer from Clement’s description that the function of the episcopate at this time was purely and solely liturgical. Thus it may well be that his frequent use of liturgical language, to which commentators on this document repeatedly call attention, is due to his deep sense of the outrage which has been committed by unjustly depriving ministers of the liturgy of their peculiar office.

If it be asked how this plurality of the episcopate arose, it is impossible to offer more than conjecture in reply. It is probable from the evidence in Acts, I Corinthians and Romans that the primitive basis of Christian liturgical organization was the ‘house church’, such as that of Prisca at Rome. It is equally probable on the same evidence that in large centres of population such as Rome and Corinth, more than one such ‘house church’ would be acquired at an early date by rapidly expanding community. Now when an Apostle was present, to him would properly belong the privilege of ‘Breaking Bread’, as in Acts XIX. But to whom would it be assigned in the Apostle’s absence? The natural inference from Clement, who evidently refers to established and recognized custom, is that it would be given to an episcopus, and thus a plurality of house churches would at first naturally lead to a plurality of episcopi. (p. 80)

Jalland goes on to describe how this polyepiscopate morphed into the “monoepiscopate” normative in Anglicanism (well, sort of,) Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy.  But his concept solves many of the problems in sorting out the leadership offices described in the New Testament and shortly afterwards.

What Jalland is describing is what has come back as a kind of cell group system.  And, when I read this, I said to myself, “Score one for those in the Church of God who wanted to call the highest ministerial rank ‘bishop’ and not just those who supervise a region.”

Jalland also assumes that these bishops had liturgical duties from the beginning, and the whole idea of liturgical worship in the New Testament church is a complete freak-out for much of Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity.

Appeal for the Abaco Islands, and Mercy Chefs — Chet Aero Marine

Readers of this blog will know that my family goes back a long way visiting the Bahamas in general and the Abaco Islands in particular. We had some exciting times, almost sending our ship to the bottom and riding out a storm. This beautiful paradise, which looked like this when we visited: Now looks like […]

via Appeal for the Abaco Islands, and Mercy Chefs — Chet Aero Marine

Elevations on the Mysteries VI: On Original Sin — The Bossuet Project

This is the sixth journey of Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, the elevations are as follows: All men in one man. First foundation of God’s justice in original sin. The father rewarded and punished in children, second foundation of God’s righteousness in original sin. The original justice of which Adam was deprived for himself and […]

via Elevations on the Mysteries VI: On Original Sin — The Bossuet Project

Book Review: Herbert Mortimer Luckock’s Studies in the History of the Book of Common Prayer

For some reason, I’ve suddenly become the defender of things and people Anglo-Catholic.  I’ve always been ambivalent about Anglo-Catholicism, from the “unEnglish and unmanly” aspect to their implicit lack of confidence in their own sacraments.   I think what’s changed is the fact that I find myself locking horns with Reformed types both inside and outside of the Anglican/Episcopal world.  They’re like George W. Bush: you’re either with them or against them, and there’s no middle ground.  (They are having their problems these days…)

So it was with anticipation that I took up the reading of another Anglo-Catholic classic: Herbert Mortimer Luckock’s Studies in the History of the Book of Common Prayer.   I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a book of his before and this one was a delight as well, well written as the other.  It’s main focus is the history of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England from the Act of Supremacy until the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was issued in the wake of the demise of the Commonwealth.  The facts (and certainly the prayer books issued during the period) are generally not in dispute; their meaning certainly is, and Luckock definitely has a point of view that needs to be heard.

Luckock actually starts with the beginning of Christianity in Britain, and then its reintroduction with Augustine of Canterbury’s mission.  Same Augustine found the use of Gallican liturgies on the island, and he wrote to his superior, Pope Gregory I, asking permission to suppress these liturgies in favour of the Roman Rite.  He got a smack-down from the Pope, who wasn’t as zealous for the Roman way as Augustine was.  Eventually the Roman liturgy was adopted in Britain, but variations persisted right up to the time of the English Reformation.

The main result of Henry VIII’s takeover of the English church was the dissolution of the monasteries and the transfer of the headship of the church to himself; it was decidedly conservative, and even extended to the prohibition of the Bible in English, as Tyndale found out the hard way.  The need for reform was strongly felt, and with Henry VIII’s death in 1547, the way was cleared for that to take place.  A committee of revision was appointed (whose members had a spectrum of views,) the existing multiple service books inherited from Roman times condensed and simplified into one book, and, with both the need for reform and the desire for continuity in mind, in 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer was set forth to the Anglican world, with an Act of Uniformity to insure that it was followed.

That promulgation was not without controversy.  The most serious blow back came from (surprise!) a Celtic part of Britain, namely Cornwall.  In a reaction that would make Grady McWhiney proud, the Cornish decided that they wanted to start a Jihad like the Muslims did!  Part of the problem was that, in the committee’s zeal to produce a liturgy in a language the people understood, they overlooked the fact that the Cornish understood neither the old Latin nor the new English!  There were also controversies about the redistribution of the seized monastic properties, most of which went to noblemen and other already powerful people.  The English put the rebellion down in typically brutal fashion, which (here and elsewhere) helped accelerate the massive emigration the British Isles experienced over the next several centuries, filling up two continents with people who wanted or had to leave.

The 1549 Book should have put an end to the matter, but at this point the critical moment came in Anglican history.  That critical moment was encouraged by the three troublemakers from the Continent: John à Lásco, Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer.  Along with their domestic allies of a Puritan idea, they centred their objections to the 1549 Book with several points of doctrine and practice.

The first is their advocacy of Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology, which they embraced with varying degrees.  (The important thing about the Reformers is not only did they disagree with the Pope but with each other.)

The second is their horror of the prayers for the dead, which they believed perpetuated the doctrine of Purgatory.

The third was their dislike of the use of vestments in worship, which they thought were worldly.  That dislike extended to academic regalia, and the connection between the two is an interesting side note in the history of both academia and Anglicanism.

There were other points but the main result was that there was a push to revise the prayer book with the ink on the first one barely dry, and the result was the 1552 Book of Common Prayer.  Luckock is not entirely negative on the changes but is obviously not pleased either.  He notes the immense impact that the Continental troublemakers had on Cranmer’s mind (as do his Reformed counterparts.)  With the brutal interlude of “Bloody Mary” this book, with a few further revisions, became the cornerstone of the Elizabethan Settlement, which brought a relative peace to the Church of England for the rest of the sixteenth century.

The unravelling of that peace, which lead to the English Civil War and the Commonwealth, is something that Luckock surprisingly skips over.  That’s unfortunately; it’s a good example of how Anglicanism and the move of the politics and culture of the time were locked with each other, as they have been of late.  But there’s a lesson to be learned.  Reformed Anglicans insist that the 1552 Book and its immediate successors are part of the proof that true Anglicanism is Reformed.  The core problem with that thesis from a historical point of view is that many of the Reformed Anglicans of the time (especially the Puritans) didn’t think that it was enough!  They were happy to dispense with liturgical worship altogether, something they basically managed to achieve under Oliver Cromwell.

That’s a good way to bring us to the last part of the book: the promulgation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  As was the case with the earlier Books, a conference was called.  Luckock admits that the Puritans/Presbyterians (the “discontents,” as Luckock delightfully refers to them) had the stronger position going into the conference, but they overplayed their hand,  ultimately setting forth a “Reformed Liturgy” which would have represented a sea change in Anglican worship.  Ultimately Parliament took the older Prayer Books and, with a few more revisions, made the 1662 Book the official Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, which it is (in theory at least) until this day.

One interesting feature of Luckock’s narrative are the extensive appendices, which include one on the Hampton Court Conference.  This one was the Puritans’ strongest attempt (unsuccessful at the moment) to move the Church’s worship in a more Reformed direction, but its most important result was the authorisation of what became the King James Bible.  He also discusses the “Scotch Liturgy” which, as noted elsewhere, became the ancestor of the “Whiskeypalians” own liturgy.

As always, Luckock puts forth a delightfully written narrative which is contrapuntal to a great deal of conventional wisdom in the Anglican/Episcopal world.  Herbert Mortimer Luckock’s Studies in the History of the Book of Common Prayer is an interesting narrative about a crucial part of Anglican history, and as such is commended.

A vegan claims that eating tofu is cultural appropriation — The Logical Place

Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True: I’ve written a fair bit about accusations of cultural appropriation, and I do so for several reasons. First, these accusations are almost always totally misguided, mistaking admiring imitation for bigotry and theft. Second, they clearly show the folly of the Authoritarian Left, both its virtue-flaunting and its adoption…

via A vegan claims that eating tofu is cultural appropriation — The Logical Place

“I honestly wept when I listened to it.”

Received this comment on my YouTube posting of the Word of God’s New Life album:

I am so grateful that you put this up. I honestly wept when I listened to it. I was all of 10 years old when I first heard this. I make no comments about the excellence of the music (it’s not) nor of the style of worship, but it is very evocative of a time in many lives when this sort of thing represented a hope for great things from God. I only wish that all of these could be found still.

In spite of some of my reservations about the Word of God’s music style, there is no doubt this worship style was moving and spiritual, and there was a hope of great things from God.  The whole movement, however, and indeed the whole “Jesus Music” era of the 1960’s and 1970’s got derailed by two things: the effects of authoritarianism through the Shepherding Movement and covenant communities, and the commercialization of Christian music in general in the 1980’s and beyond.

It’s hard to describe to any side in the “music wars” these days what this style of worship meant to those of us who experienced it; we find ourselves alone on the sides.  Fortunately we are not alone, as this comment shows.  And with God we are never alone.

Book Review: Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson

Most of you who stop by here regularly know that I am a big fan of Grady McWhiney’s “Celtic South” idea.  That adherence didn’t come from theoretical considerations, but from hard experience.  Some people characterize McWhiney’s thesis as a form of “white supremacy,” but that only shows the decline of reading comprehension among Americans.  I think that it’s the key to showing that white supremacy is demonstrably false, but more about that later.

Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson concerns the central event in the conflict between the Scots-Irish and the rest of us: the Civil War/War Between the States.  The problem under discussion in this book is best summed up by this passage from the preface:

Charles P. Roland has pointed out that more than a fourth of the million men who served in the Confederate army died of wounds of disease, and that in relation to the southern white population “those service casualties were as great as those endured by major European participants in the wars of the twentieth century.  If the North during the Civil War had suffered commensurately she would have lost more than 1,000,000 men instead of 360,000.  The American colonies in revolt against England would have lost 94,000 men instead of 12,000.  The United States in World War II would have lost well over 6,000,000 men instead of somewhat more than 300,000.  The Confederacy rendered the heaviest sacrifice in lives…ever made by Americans.”

How and why the Confederacy lost so many men is the burden of this book.  We contend that the Confederates bled themselves nearly to death in the first three years of the war by making costly attacks more often than did the Federals…The Confederates could have offset their numerical disadvantage by remaining on the defensive and forcing the Federals to attack; one man in a trench armed with a rifle was equal to several outside of it.  But Southerners, imprisoned in a culture that rejected careful calculation and patience, often refused to learn from their mistakes.  They continued to fight, despite mounting casualties, with the same courageous dash and reckless abandon that had characterized their Celtic ancestors for two thousand years.  The Confederates favored offensive warfare because the Celtic charge was an integral part of their heritage.

Much of the middle part of the book details the changes in warfare that had taken place in the 1850’s that changed the whole tactical situation.  Most of the generals on both sides (and some of the politicians, such as Jefferson Davis) served in the Mexican War, and there the offensive definitely paid off.  As the Civil War began much of the officer corps on both sides basically prepared to fight the last war.

But that was a mistake.  The major technological change that took place was the change from smoothbore guns to rifles, which extended the kill range from around 300 yards to 1000 yards.  That shifted the advantage from the attacker to the entrenched defender.   The Federals were quicker to pick on this simple fact as opposed to their Confederate opponents, which led to an observation that didn’t get developed as well as it should: the Federals learned from their mistakes, the Confederates didn’t.  That’s as aspect of Southern culture that exasperates more than most, and it’s independent of educational level and socio-economic status.  The battle cry of “We’ve always done it this way” still resounds in these parts.

That affected the other aspects of the army, namely the artillery and cavalry.  The artillery was slower to convert to rifled bores, and in spite of its offensive value in Mexico found itself most valuable on the defense during the Civil War.  Cavalry charges were almost inevitably disasters, with the defenders “emptying the saddles” in short order.  The cavalry found itself more effective in dismounted conflict, reconnaissance, and flanking maneuvers.  As always Southerners loved the cavalry but their ability to keep it in the field deteriorated to the point that, in the last part of the war, most of the cavalry action came from the Federals.

All of this is presented in fascinating detail that will certainly alter the way one looks at the Civil War from a military standpoint.  The question is, how well do the authors link all of this information with the idea of the Celtic South?  Not as well as one would like; that comes at the very end of the book, and is to some extent sequestered from the rest.  There are several things that the authors could have pointed out which would have strengthened their case.

The first is that the most “Celtic” thing the South didn’t do leading up to the Civil War was to develop an industrial and transportation base to fight the modern war that it became.  Such requires patience and industry, both of which were in short supply south of the Mason-Dixon line.  That affected the South grievously in its ability to keep an army in the field.  The authors speak of the Southern soldier’s ability to endure hardship and deprivation, but both were accentuated by a faulty economic system that progressively found it difficult to furnish its army with weapons, uniforms and (in a rich agricultural region like the South) food.

The second is they point out Grant’s aggressive, offensive strategy in Virginia in the last two years of the war.  That needs to be seen as a part of the war of attrition that Grant was fighting.  Knowing that he had more men and the industrial base to keep them in the field, Grant simply beat Lee’s army into submission at Appomattox.  A different strategy was employed by Sherman, whose name is still cursed down here: he avoided the attack most of the time, inflicting damage on the Confederate civilian infrastructure as opposed to their military one.  (He made an exception at Kennesaw Mountain, which he lived to regret.)

The third (and they do mention this from time to time) is that a defensive strategy by the South was not only justified by the changes in weaponry but also by the difficult terrain that covered large parts of the Confederacy.  That terrain, coupled with the poor railroad and road system (which was in common with Russia during the World Wars) made the attack difficult.  The Confederates would also have done better with guerilla warfare, but their romantic culture didn’t allow for that.

One person that comes in for special opprobrium is Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy’s President.  His experience in the Mexican War made him an apostle of the attack, and much of the impetus for that came from the very top.  That had traction with Southerners, and led to many of the serious losses the Confederacy experienced, especially in the early years of the war.

The Confederates had company in not learning lessons from their own mistakes.  Europeans in general and the French in particular learned little or nothing from the American Civil War.  The French (the same native soil as Vercingetorix and his disaster at Alesia) went into World War I with an offensive strategy that lasted until Robert Nivelle’s offensive in 1917 that nearly broke the French army.   The Germans for their part attempted to replicate Grant’s war of attrition at Verdun, but it took a few years and another war for that investment to see a return.

Also, many Northerners had the same level of contempt for Southern whites has the latter had for black people, up to and including the desire for genocide.  This illustrates that the differences between the two cultures was understood at the time.  McWhiney’s thesis has brought back that difference into view.  Today the Scots-Irish are Donald Trump’s biggest supporters.  You’d think that the left would be eager to embrace McWhiney’s thesis to trash their opponents once and for all.  But they have not, and there are three reasons for this.

The first is that, if you can trash one ethnic group, you can trash another.  The left is afraid that, if they make this stick, someone else will come along and do the same thing with one of their own constituencies.  But anyone familiar with various people groups in this country should realize that the Scots-Irish are sui generis.

The second is that, underneath their contempt, the “hippie ideal” that the sixties types and their fans is really the Scots-Irish typical way of life: unbridled sex and drinking (and now opioids,) along with a lazy attitude towards work.  When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first unveiled her “Green New Deal,” one of the planks in the platform that got removed early was the promise of income for those who didn’t want to work.  This is a Scots-Irish dream come true; the reason Southern states are so tight with their welfare systems is they know what would happen if they implemented such a plan.

The third is that the whole attack on “white supremacy” assumes that white people are a homogeneous group.  That’s simply not the case.  Once we realize that there are differences, a major cornerstone of intersectionality is knocked out.  The Scots-Irish are the boxcar hobos on the train of white supremacy, and the sooner both they and everyone else come to grips with that fact, the better.

Today this country is as divided as it has been since the days of attack and die.  Those of the Scots-Irish mentality are looking for that great victory that will wipe out their opponents, whether that victory be an election, a great preacher-led revival, or another shooting war.  It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is going to end badly, and in a world where we are not so isolated from the rest, while we fight each other our rivals will advance at our expense.  Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson is a good study in what happens when the big things in life are done on impulse and emotion, and that’s a lesson that needs to be learned today.

‘They Were Never of Us’: Considering An Alternative Reading of I John 2.19a For the Broken, Defeated, and Confused Among Us — The Evangelical Calvinist

What about ‘defeated’ or ‘broken’ Christians; is there even such a category? I want to briefly touch upon this, because I see it as a real and present question that continues to confront us in the broader evangelical church. With the departure of Josh Harris, and now one of the lead writers for Hillsong music, […]

via ‘They Were Never of Us’: Considering An Alternative Reading of I John 2.19a For the Broken, Defeated, and Confused Among Us — The Evangelical Calvinist

The whole business of “were they really saved” is one of the most unedifying parlor games we have in Christianity.  And it’s not just the Calvinists either, although they got the ball rolling: the Southern Baptists, with their infelicitous combination of Arminian election and Calvinistic perseverance, do the same thing.  As Grow points out, “As with all exegesis, the Calvinist interpretation of I Jn 2.19 flows from their prior commitment to a particular doctrine of God,” but things break down in situations like we’re seeing with Harris and Sampson.

One other thing: Grow notes that “Within the Protestant tradition, there have been two major concepts of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation): the Reformed view and the Arminian view. ”  It has been suggested on this site that Calvinism and Arminianism are both forms of Reformed theology, but my experience is that Calvinists regard Arminians the same way Salafis regard Shi’a Muslims: outside of the faith.

For Anglicans, Article XVI allows for a falling away, which is a sensible solution to the problem at hand.  But it’s a major reason why I do not think that Anglicanism is strictly speaking “Reformed,” and that makes some people mad.

 

Real Presence: Reclaiming the Legacy of Anglo-Catholic Church Planting — Anglican Pastor

When it comes to Anglican church planting, we often think of modern evangelical or charismatic examples such as Holy Trinity Brompton in London. But what about the Anglo-Catholic movement that has its roots in the “Oxford Movement” of the nineteenth century? Are Anglo-Catholic Church Planters a Thing? Let’s be honest, when you hear think of…

via Real Presence: Reclaiming the Legacy of Anglo-Catholic Church Planting — Anglican Pastor