‘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

Book Review: Trevor Gervase Jalland’s The Church and the Papacy

One of Our Lord’s commands that we have difficulty fulfilling is this one:

But it is not only for them that I am interceding, but also for those who believe in me through their Message, That they all may be one–that as thou, Father, art in union with us–and so the world may believe that thou hast sent me as thy Messenger. (John 17:20-21 TCNT)

No where is that more apparent than the relationship between those who are under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome–the Roman Catholics–and those who are not, whether the latter be Protestant, Orthodox or otherwise.  Most Protestants have brushed off any idea of union with–or certainly under–Rome.  Unless you figure that Protestant and Orthodox churches will simply roll the Roman Catholics–and in some places like Latin America that’s a possibility–sooner or later some accommodation with the See of Peter needs to be considered, or at least the obstacles to that accommodation need to be dispassionately discussed.

A serious discussion of this is Trevor Gervase Jalland’s The Church and the Papacy.  Jalland, Vicar of St. Thomas the Martyr in Oxford and an Anglo-Catholic, delivered the Bampton Lectures at Oxford in 1942.  These lectures became the book.  As such it presupposes a fairly broad knowledge of the history of the church.  Jalland’s main objective is to examine the validity of the claim of the See of Rome to Petrine Primacy, and how that claim has been actualized over the centuries.

The focus of his interest is the period from the New Testament to the end of the sixth century, which takes up most of his narrative.  He brings out three important points which become leitmotifs in the history of the Roman Empire church in general and the Roman see in particular.

The first is that the assertion–and the acceptance–of Petrine primacy for the Roman see was relatively early in its history.  It should be understood that the church’s structure was “looser” at that time and this primacy didn’t mean then what it means now, but primacy it was all the same.

The second is that the principal objective in bishops of Rome exerting this primacy was to insure that the faith which was handed down by the apostles–the paradosis, to use the transliterated Greek term that Jalland employs frequently–was preserved and maintained.  That brought a conservatism to the way Rome responded to the many doctrinal crises that came from the East, a salutary one in most cases.

The third is that this primacy was set in opposition to the Caesero-papism that dominated Eastern church polity.  From Constantine I onward Eastern Roman emperors exerted enormous authority over the calling of and presiding over Church councils and the doctrine which they promulgated.  The See of Rome did not feel that the state really had any business doing this, although they frequently had to express this opinion very diplomatically.  That rivalry was exacerbated by the rise of the see of Constantinople, which had no antiquity (as opposed to that of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch or even Jerusalem) and that rivalry ultimately paved the way to the split between Roman Catholic and Orthodox in 1054.

It’s tempting to observe that, had Rome stuck to the program above, it could have avoided many of the problems that arose later.  Jalland doesn’t really come out and say this, but he does show that many of the changes in the nature of the Papacy in the Middle Ages were due to the increasingly politicized nature of the Papacy itself.  This manifested itself in two forms.  First, the Pope, having sent the Eastern Emperor packing so to speak, felt that he was over the monarchs of the West, and that headship involved political authority.  The second was that, by virtue of Papal territory in Central Italy, the Pope became a secular ruler in his own right, with the political role that accompanied that.  Both of these created conflict between the Pope and secular rulers, and that conflict helped to fuel the Reformation itself both on the Continent and in Great Britain.

Jalland describes two points in Papal history where a major turn of history took place at a point of weakness in Rome.  The first is the Reformation: Jalland describes a Papacy enmeshed in worldly considerations and taking a “deer in headlights” attitude to the oncoming storm in Germany.  The second is Vatican I, where Papal infallibility was proclaimed.  Jalland opined that the crisis occasioned by the reunification of the country and the progressive disappearance of the Papal States lead Pius IX to seek help from above, first in the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin in 1854 (a doctrine not well supported in tradition) and his own infallibility in 1870, the promulgation of which provides the “book ends” for the lectures.

Jalland, unusual among Christian historians, has a good grasp on the relationship of doctrine with ecclesiology, and the impact of “church politics” (which includes both politics within the church and its interaction with the state.)  He avoids the kinds of artificial constructs and sweeping generalizations that plague debates within the church these days.  He has an Anglo-Catholic’s aversion to state control of the church, one seen also in Luckock.  That is an appropriate backdrop to one of the most interesting narratives in the book: how Pius VII outlasted Napoleon in spite of the latter’s attempt to use the Papacy for his own purposes, something that Stalin’s successors would have done well to remember.

So now that he has shown the antiquity of Petrine primacy, where did he think things were going with Rome?  In the last lecture he makes the following statement:

The latest tragedy of its history seems to lie in this, that the vain attempt to save what had long ceased to be valuable contributed its failure to appreciate the opportunity for fulfilling its world-wide mission as a centre of unity and order for Christian society as a whole under changed conditions, and led only to a comparatively sterile reassertion of its primatial status.

Jalland was unsure of where all of this was going, both for the Roman Catholics and for everyone else.  Three quarters of a century after Jalland gave these lectures, we really don’t have a clearer picture.  Vatican II had a great deal of promise but its own mandate for change was at once too broad and too narrow, and worse it became the tool of those with a sub-Christian agenda.  The current Occupant of the See of Peter, back to the usual agenda of protecting the Vatican’s turf, currying favor with the “gods of this world” and using the authority of an infallible successor to Peter to make this happen, has left many inside and outside the Church in the lurch.  As for the Protestant world, the Main Line churches, descendants (in the US) for the most part of the state churches (in Europe) that emerged from the Reformation, have lost center stage to the Evangelicals and Pentecostals, whose propensity to splinter makes putting the pieces back together difficult just by the sheer number of the pieces themselves.

What Christianity needs is leadership which is committed to transmitting the paradosis of the Apostles without expanding it.  If the See of Peter ever rediscovers that mission, it will fulfill the final charge which Our Lord gave to Peter:

When breakfast was over, Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than the others?” “Yes, Master,” he answered, “you know that I am your friend.” “Feed my lambs,” said Jesus. Then, a second time, Jesus asked: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Master,” he answered, “you know that I am your friend.” “Tend my sheep,” said Jesus. The third time, Jesus said to him: “Simon, son of John, are you my friend?” Peter was hurt at his third question being ‘Are you my friend?’; and exclaimed: “Master, you know everything! You can tell that I am your friend.” “Feed my sheep,” said Jesus. “In truth I tell you,” he continued, “when you were young, you used to put on your own girdle, and walk wherever you wished; but, when you have grown old, you will have to stretch out your hands, while some one else puts on your girdle, and takes you where you do not wish.” (John 21:15-18 TCNT)

Communion in the Hand, and Those Pesky Easterners

This, brought to my attention, from Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures, toward the very end:

Approaching therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or they fingers open; but make they left hand as if a throne for thy right, which is on the eve of receiving the King.  And having hallowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying after it, Amen.  Then after thou hast with carefulness hallowed thy eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake thereof; giving heed lest thou lose any of it; for what thou losest, is a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members.  For tell me, if any one gave thee gold dust, wouldest thou not with all precaution keep it fast, being on thy guard against losing any of it, and suffering loss?  How much more cautiously then will thou observe that not a crumb falls from thee, of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?

Then after having partaken of the Body of Christ, approach also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending and saying in the way of worship and reverence, Amen, be thou hallowed by partaking also of the blood of Christ.  And while the moisture is still upon thy lips, touching it with thy hands, hallow both thine eyes and brow and the other senses.  Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who has accounted thee worthy of so great mysteries.  (Mystagogical Cathacheses, V, 21-22)

One of the hills the Trad Catholics die on is reception of the Host on the tongue.  But as is the case with many things, the Eastern churches, whose sacramental validity has never been challenged, do many things in liturgical practice that haven’t sat well with their Western counterparts.  This is one of them.  Many of the “novelties” that are decried by Anglican and Catholic Trad alike are in reality imports from these churches, and as such are a real nuisance to these trads.

I did a series a few years back on Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures.  For me, it was an interesting and informative journey, and I commend it again to my visitors.

Hong Kong and the Straits of Hormuz: It’s Amazing It Took This Long — vulcanhammer.info

Although Vulcan exported its pile driving equipment from the start, it was it’s foray into the offshore oil business that gave Vulcan a truly international perspective. That perspective put some of the world’s “hot spots” into its field of interest, and two of them are very active these days: Hong Kong and the Straits of […]

via Hong Kong and the Straits of Hormuz: It’s Amazing It Took This Long — vulcanhammer.info

My Rimsky-Korsakov Moment in Academia — vulcanhammer.net

In 1871, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov became a Professor of Practical Composition and Instrumentation at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In retrospect, given the music he composed, this is not extraordinary. At the time, however, it was amazing. He was still in active service in the Russian Navy. More importantly, although he had had private music lessons and […]

via My Rimsky-Korsakov Moment in Academia — vulcanhammer.net