Kissing Josh Harris Goodbye

Another one bites the dust:

Joshua Harris has abandoned his Christian faith, news that marks another blow to American conservative evangelicalism.

Harris authored the best-selling I Kissed Dating Goodbye in his early twenties, unleashing unnecessary angst on a generation of evangelical teens. In his early thirties, he served as pastor of a Gaithersburg megachurch. He was also an influential figure in the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement (YRR). Now, he has denounced his famous book, announced he and his wife are separating, and repudiated Christianity.

I’m not sure that this is the setback that some think it is.  It’s tempting to equate this with Bart Campolo’s abandonment of the faith, but the motivation is different.  In Campolo’s case, it was the theodicy issue, something with which American evangelicalism has set itself for trouble.  (That too entered into Rachel Held Evans’ falling down, although her break wasn’t as clean.)  In this case it’s another evangelical disaster.  As Trueman notes:

While Harris seems to be making a clean break with his past, the style of his apostasy announcement is oddly consistent with the evangelical Christianity he used to represent. He revealed he was leaving the faith with a social media post, which included a mood photograph of himself contemplating a beautiful lake. The earlier announcement of his divorce used the typical postmodern jargon of “journey” and “story.” And both posts were designed to play to the emotions rather than the mind. Life, it would seem, continues as performance art.

American evangelicalism is a running popularity contest, and Harris hasn’t stopped that part of it, just changed the product he’s selling.  And he’s also stuck his finger in the wind to see which way it’s blowing, which is probably behind his apology to the LGBT community.  Before that, however, his promotion of the “purity movement” reflected evangelical myopia on how to implement the demands of the Gospel.  My biggest problem with the purity movement wasn’t with the principle but with the implementation.  For someone who grew up in a part of the country where the Christian sexual ethic was unpopular to say the least, to make such a public show of it struck me as dangerous.  It’s hard enough to be a Christian without adding to the social pressure, especially in a society where the opinion leaders and elites live primarily to get laid, high or drunk.  Evangelicals think that they have to work at confronting the culture with the Gospel; these days, and earlier for some of us, live it and don’t worry, you’ll have confrontation.

It also doesn’t surprise me that he was Reformed.  Reformed theology is, IMHO, a highway to universalism, but some will blow their stack if they hear that.

What the 2019 Book of Common Prayer Really Needs

The discussion about this book continues.  I get the feeling I’m being shadowboxed in this discussion (and I’m sure others are too.)  For the moment I’ll pass along this blog’s take on Cranmer and Lutheran influenceThe Porcine is a relatively new Anglican blog and is very nice, I hope its writer keeps it up.

Taking a different tack on this, there are many things the ACNA’s new 2019 Book of Common Prayer needs but I’ll throw one more idea out there: pictures.  As a kid growing up in the Episcopal Church I had an illustrated version of part of the 1928 BCP, but there are illustrated versions of at least the 1662 BCP.  One of them is the Pictorial Edition of the Book of Common Prayer, and following are selected pages from that book.

pictorialedition00churrich_bw_Page_007

Does the 2019 BCP Need More Than One Rite?

The back and forth over the new ANCA 2019 Book of Common Prayer continues.  This post delves into a question that, in a sense, puts together the whole debate over the theology of the Holy Communion and how it should be represented in the liturgy: do we really need the two rites we have in the 2019 BCP?  And what’s this business about the “ancient texts?”

Let’s start with stating a proposition: the fact that the 1979 BCP has two doesn’t justify the 2019 BCP doing the same.  I’m sure the committee(s) that put together the 2019 BCP had that discussion.  Having more than one rite antedates the 1979 BCP.  I know some of my readers find my constant references to Roman Catholicism in these posts irritating at best and heretical at worst, but as an educator I think it’s at least instructive.

It’s worth noting that the Church of England, the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church had one anaphora (the technical term for the consecration of the elements of Communion) and one rite of the Communion/Eucharist/Mass going into the 1960’s.  It’s also worth noting that these liturgies were basically all of sixteenth century vintage.  The Anglican liturgy was first set forth in the 1549 BCP and, through the dizzying and deadly changes that the Church of England went through subsequent to that, ended up in a modified form in the 1662 BCP.  The Roman Catholic Church formulated (or better normalized) its liturgy around the time of the Council of Trent.  Before the term “Traditional Latin Mass” (#TLM) became common with trads, it was customary to refer to this liturgy as the Tridentine Mass.

On both sides of the English Channel there was a great deal of intellectual ferment in the years leading up to the 1960’s.  A greater awareness of Patristic and Roman Empire Christianity practice came into being.  Anglo-Catholics such as Luckock and Jalland were aware of different liturgical practices in this era, different both from Rome and what was current in the Church of England.  Roman Catholics such as Jean Daniélou took a similar scholarly interest.

It’s worth noting that in 2009 this blog featured a series (about the same time the ACNA came into existence) of several of these “ancient text” anaphorae.  The complete list with explanation as to their origin is as follows:

Also included were a couple of Roman Catholic “experimental” liturgies (Canon “B” and Canon “C”.)   It would be interesting to know if any of these were a resource for the 2019 BCP.

The 1970’s saw the revision of both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal liturgies, the former with the Novus Ordo Missae and the latter with the 1979 BCP.  These types of liturgies have been used for around a half century.  It is obvious that those who put the 2019 BCP have bowed, in part, to that long usage.  They evidently felt that a return to a modernized version of the 1928 or even 1662 BCP with one anaphora (to say nothing of the general structure of the Communion liturgy) was not a real possibility at this point.

So how does the 2019’s “ancient text” stack up?  It combines the brevity of the Anaphora of Hippolytus (the oldest of the texts above) with a “history of salvation” that is seen in some of the Eastern liturgies.  Overall it’s not really bad.  The biggest criticism may be that it’s too brief!  I’m sure, however, that a “history of salvation” type of liturgy will go over with some about as well as the first such presentation, that of Stephen (Acts 7:2-60.)

I really think that the revival of these “ancient texts,” when too much violence isn’t done to their own theology, is one of the best things that has happened in liturgical development this half century past.   That sentiment is not shared amongst Reformed Anglican or Catholic trad alike.  However, the main thing that Anglican and Catholic have in common with the negative response is the vehemence of the opposition.

The impact on Roman Catholicism has been a realization that a great deal of what passed for Catholic “essentials” before Vatican II (and with the trade today) was more like an accumulation of stuff by people who have lived in a house for many years: the house is the same, but the large volume of the stuff has changed the mode of living.  Attempts to do some “housecleaning” have been lost with those of a more modern or post-modern style of mind (like that of James Martin SJ or the current Occupant of St. Peter’s.)  The trads’ answer is that we should keep all the stuff the way it was, but I don’t think that’s a real solution.

With the Reformed Anglicans (the Anglo-Catholics are another story altogether) the question is more basic: is the Roman Empire Church, which immediately followed Our Lord’s time on earth, closer to his idea than that of the Reformers, who lived 1500 years later?  From a historical view, the latter implies this type of concept:

Most evangelicals look at church history in a very specific way; there were first New Testament times, then there was the Reformation, and now there’s us. This results in a gap of about a millennium and a half between significant events; surely something happened in that length of time!

The danger to Reformed types of the inclusion of such a liturgy is that it undercuts their own claim to “pride of place” as the closest to the Scriptures.

Since the Anglicans have gone to the trouble to retain an episcopate (and the episcopate is often a major source of trouble) and a liturgy, it makes sense that the Patristic witness is relevant.  That’s a hard sell to many Reformed types, but if they want to be consistent, they should ditch the liturgy and the episcopate and do it Calvin’s way.

The Problem of God, Evil, Cancer and My Nurse — The Evangelical Calvinist

It is just over nine years ago now that I was laid up in my hospital bed at OHSU in Portland, OR; I was being treated for an incurable, rare, and highly aggressive cancer known as Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor sarcoma (DSRCT). The prognosis of this particular cancer is almost always imminent death (within […]

I’ve discussed the theodicy issue–which I think may be the most urgent issue American Christianity faces–in pieces such as If I Started the way @BartCampolo Did, I Wouldn’t Believe in God Either and Painting Ourselves into a Corner at “The Shack”.  But to use his own dire adversity as an opportunity to share his faith is very moving.

via The Problem of God, Evil, Cancer and My Nurse — The Evangelical Calvinist

Remembering the Anti-Moon Luddites — Chet Aero Marine

Today, of course, is the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon–“one giant leap for mankind,” to be sure. It was a great accomplishment and deserves to be remembered. It’s easy to forget, however, that at the time there were many–especially on the left–who believed that the whole enterprise was a mistake, […]

via Remembering the Anti-Moon Luddites — Chet Aero Marine

Otto Klink: From Atheism and Socialism to Assemblies of God Evangelist — Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

This Week in AG History — July 18, 1931 By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg Originally published on AG News, 18 July 2019 Otto J. Klink (1888-1955) was a German-born American Pentecostal evangelist who traveled the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ and warning his listeners about the dangers of socialism, […]

via Otto Klink: From Atheism and Socialism to Assemblies of God Evangelist — Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Why I Prefer Ad Orientem

Since the release of the ANCA 2019 Book of Common Prayer has open the floodgates for consideration of all kinds of controversial topics, it’s time to consider one more: that of ad orientem, i.e., facing the altar during the Sacred Mysteries rather than the people.  That’s been the subject of a blog-to-blog volley between one Rev. Ben Jeffries, vicar at The Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Opelika, Alabama,  and Robin Jordan of Anglicans Ablaze fame.

Personal note: I’ve sparred with Robin before on the nature of Anglicanism and many other topics.  I noted that he opted to expand his own case on his own blog and not in the comments section of Jeffries’.  Evidently his encounter with me was educational; I wish he had done this when we went at it, we would have both been better off.

In any case, the topic is of interest because I’ve seen it both ways.  First, the altar of my home church, against the wall (and certainly facing east, which was easy to figure out in Palm Beach):

altar

As a Roman Catholic, however, the priest always faced the people with the altar from the wall, for reasons that both Jeffries and Jordan explain in detail.

With Latta Griswold’s rule of “The minister should face the altar when he addresses Almighty God, the congregation when he addresses or reads to them, and the opposite stall during other parts of the service” in mind, the reasons why I think ad orientem is better are threefold:

  1. It is a strong statement against Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology and its variations.  While I am aware that Anglicanism, in common with Lutheranism, does not strictly adhere to this, the Scriptures are clear on this subject.
  2. It is the best justification for women ministering at the altar.  Now that you’ve picked yourself off of the floor, hear me out: true Catholics will tell you that the priest is in the place of Christ and represents him to the people, which is why we can never have women priests.  But that kind of priesthood has no real justification in the New Testament, as any true Anglican knows.  At the altar the minister represents the congregation to God, and when he or she celebrates the sacred mysteries facing God with the congregation at his or her back, that’s a powerful statement of the reality of the role of the minister.  Facing the people implies that the priest, in the place of Christ, is representing God to the people.
  3. It helps to restore the God-centred nature of our worship, and we need all of that we can get these days.

Now we know that trads and #straightouttairondale types inflexibly associate (or try to) ad orientem with the ornate High Mass.  But that wasn’t always the case, and a couple of examples from the days of wine and the Tridentine Mass will suffice.

Austrian-Field-Mass
The “field Mass,” a tradition in the Austrian military, being simply celebrated during World War I, in good ad orientem style.  It’s interesting to note that Eduard Habsburg, a descendant of the monarch these troops served, is the current Ambassador to the Vatican from Hungary.
mass_tyrolean_alps
On the Allies side, a priest celebrates Mass ad orientem (or whatever direction he can manage) to Italian Alpine troops during World War I. The Alpine troops were the best on both sides of the conflict; evidently they had the crack priests to go with them.

One common criticism of the ad orientem style is that its celebrants “mumble” their prayers.  That was certainly the case during pre-Vatican II times, but it doesn’t have to be now.  One good wireless microphone (which a celebrant should wear anyway, given all the movement during the Liturgy) should fix that.  For parishes with a larger budget, it wouldn’t hurt to set up a camera to the side of the altar and see what it looks like when the celebrant actually faces God.

While I’m at it, I’d like to address one more of Robin’s assertions:

Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI introduced a series of so-called reforms of the Roman Rite, which represent a retrograde movement in the Roman Catholic Church—a retreat from the reforms of Vatican II. Ratzinger, the writers on the New Liturgical Movement website, and Lang are a part of a movement in the Roman Catholic Church, which seeks to undo the reforms of Vatican II and to revive the Latin Mass and other pre-Vatican II practices. It blames the reforms of Vatican II for the decline in attendance at Mass in the West. Like the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic movement in the Anglican Church it presents itself as a movement for the renewal of the church.

I was involved in a church plant that had lapsed Roman Catholics as one of ministry target groups. Our work with this ministry target group did not support the contentions of this movement. Among the reasons that the lapsed Roman Catholics with whom we worked gave for having stopped attending Mass was that they had undergone a divorce. They had been physically abused by the Roman Catholic nuns in parochial school as a child. They were concerned about the growing reports of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, the failure of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to protect these children, and the safety of their own children. The Roman Catholic Church had not met their pastoral and spiritual needs. They had been baptized, catechized, and confirmed, but had never heard the gospel or had been invited to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. How the Mass was celebrated was a non-issue.

I’ve discussed the impact of those retrograde innovations here and here.  Robin is right up to a point, but the main impact of the whole “trad” movement in Roman Catholicism is to create a core of committed people, something that the Church–with its gradualistic “box checker” mentality and weak pastoral system–has failed to do.  That isn’t enough to renew the church but without it Roman Catholicism will experience continual decline.  And, in a culture where Christianity is unpopular and its legal status rides from one election cycle to another, having that core is essential to its survival.

But that brings us to Anglicanism in North America and what it’s here to do.  As I see it Anglicanism has always been a “niche marketing” project, especially since American Christianity tends to be class stratified.  If you want many people, you’ll start a non-denominational or Pentecostal church (especially if you’re not targeting white people.)  If you want the “right” people, i.e., those with more education and resources, you’ll start an Anglican church.  Paul could claim the following:

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so as at all costs to save some. And I do everything for the sake of the Good News, that with them I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 TCNT)

Most of our ministers these days can’t.  They should find out, among other things, whom God is calling them to be an apostle to and do it.

Jimmy Buffett and the Miserable Offenders of the Book of Common Prayer

It’s time to look at another bone that’s been picked with the ANCA’s 2019 Book of Common Prayer: the omission of the phrase “miserable offenders” to the General Confession for Morning and Evening Prayer.  Let’s start with the 2019 text:

BCP2019 MP Confession

And now from the 1928 BCP:

BCP1928 MP Confession

In addition to the modernization of the language, the phrase “miserable offenders” is conspicuously absent from the newer confession.

Modernizing the language is something that, although traditionalists find it offensive, is pretty much a necessity these days; the question is how to do it.  It’s the same fight that “King James Only” people have.

But the miserable offenders?  As was the case with the Creed, there’s a parallel with the Roman Catholic Novus Ordo Missae, and that’s the omission of the “mea culpa” (with breast beating accompanying) from the original English translation of that liturgy.  I did an entire piece on the subject when the “new” translation came out.  Note that there was pushback on it at the time from Roman Catholics.  My guess is that there’s been similar pushback from Anglicans and the 2019 BCP committees decided that keeping the phrase wasn’t worth it.

But in response to the NOM’s revived “starch in the shirt” about our sins, I invoked Jimmy Buffett:

As far as the sins are concerned, the Roman Catholic Church’s (the Jesuits of Pascal’s days notwithstanding) emphasis on the seriousness of our sins is well founded, and anyone with a Biblical understanding of the subject should know this. Even some whose Biblical understanding falls short know this too. In the same 1970’s when the “old” NOM translation was current in Catholic Churches, Jimmy Buffett, wasting away in Margaritaville, knew all too well whose fault it was. His lyrics, although liturgically inappropriate, were in their own way closer to the NOM Latin original than what was recited every Sunday.

The same observation can be made about omitting the “miserable offenders” from the Anglican General Confession, even though if Buffet’s sentiments were put into the BCP, as Latta Griswold would say, the philistines would blaspheme.

I grew up in Palm Beach reciting the 1928 General Confession.  Characterizing a bunch of bratty Palm Beachers as “miserable offenders” is charitable.  Right, Jeffrey Epstein?

The “I” and the “We” of the Creed

The issuance of the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer has brought back to the forefront many issues that have been “out there” for a long time.  One of them is right up front in both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed: whether either or both should start with “I believe” or “We believe.”  This post will attempt to shed a little light on the subject, because this change came from outside the Anglican/Episcopal world in a way that may surprise some people.

It’s certain that the 1662 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer started the creeds with the first person singular “I”.  The 1979 BCP changed it to “We” and that’s stuck in the craw of many ever since.   For me personally, the change came sooner.  When I “swam the Tiber” in 1972, I walked into a church which had instituted the Novus Ordo Missae two years earlier.  It was not only in the vernacular but started the Nicene Creed with “We believe.”

As an aside, I had been raised with the Apostles’ Creed being used in Morning Prayer and the Nicene in the Holy Communion.  The latter creed was pretty much a fixture at Mass.  The first time I heard the Apostles’ Creed used with Mass of any kind was John Michael Talbot’s The Lord’s Supper in 1979, and it finds its way there in situations where time is of the essence.

But I digress.  The reasoning given at the time was that the Mass after Vatican II was supposed to be more participatory and community oriented, thus the plural declaration of faith.  I think it’s reasonable to say that the Episcopal Church followed the RCC’s lead on this (and many other) liturgical subjects for the 1979 book.

But did the Roman Catholic Church actually change the Creed?  The answer is “no.”  Unlike the Anglicans, whose primary liturgical language is English (wonder why?) the Novus Ordo Missae, like those that went before it, was promulgated in Latin and translated into the various vernaculars that Roman Catholics find themselves in.  The decision to use “We” was that of those who made the original official translation of the NOM into English.  You can see this in this little except from a Latin-English missal I picked up in the UK, where “Credo — I believe” clearly appears in the Latin version of the Creed.

Creed Latin English

Additionally, towards the end of the Creed, “Confiteor una baptisma” (I confess one baptism,) where the first person singular persists, as is also the case with “expecto resurrectionem” (look forward to the resurrection.)

This decidedly unilingual change was done away with when the NOM’s current translation was made official and began use in Advent 2011, a change instituted by Benedict XVI, who is sadly Emeritus.  There are many clumsy, Latinate phrases used in this translation, but in this case it was an improvement.  (The same criticism can be made of the Authorised Version vs. Tyndale, but I digress again…)

The ACNA, evidently bowing to two score of 1979 habit, opted to use “We.”  Personally I think the first person singular is better; it attempts to force people to make a commitment to their belief, which is lacking these days.  The major problem churches such as the RCC and ACNA (TEC gave up a long time go) have is not getting their people to recite the Creed properly but to believe it.  There are several variations of this: the modern (“The Creed is just a historical statement which is mostly a fable,”) the post-modern (“The Creed is correct but it doesn’t really mean what it says”) and the sub-modern (“We really don’t care what the Creed says, we’ll believe what we want to.”)

And as for the “filoque” clause, this is my answer and I’m sticking to it.

Banning is Not Too Strong of a Word to Use for Quincy’s Action re the 2019 Book of Common Prayer

In my post on the ACNA’s 2019 Book of Common Prayer, I made mention that the Diocese of Quincy had banned its use (as had Anglican Ink.)  There has been some push back to that, from VirtueOnline and Robin Jordan, that this is not what they have done.

Although I’ll betray my Thomistic intellectual background in saying this, I think the Diocese’s actions need to be understood in conjunction with the purpose of the 2019 Book or any other Book of Common Prayer.  The title page of the 2019 Book (earlier Books are similar) reads as follows:

The Book of Common Prayer
and
Administration of the Sacraments
with
Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church
According to the Use of the Anglican Church in North America
Together with
the New Coverdale Psalter

Although the Book can and is used for private devotions, the principal purpose of any Book of Common Prayer is its use in church, when the people of God are gathered together.  Using the word “ban” for the prohibition of its use in public worship is not too strong.  Anglicanism (on this side of the Atlantic at least) has avoided things like the prohibited books Index of Roman Catholicism; to require that “ban” prohibit its use at all goes beyond what Anglican and Episcopal churches have traditionally required of their parishioners.  (And, of course, there are many non-Prayer Book resources for private devotions as well…)  It’s worth observing that they have, in effect, banned the use of the 1662 and 1928 Books as well, but no one seems ruffled by this.

As Tertullian used to say, every choice implies a rejection.

Within the ACNA system, the Diocese is completely within its prerogative to ban its use in public worship.  Whether this is wise is an different topic altogether; that’s a different debate.