The Reformed vs. Athanasian/Nicene Approach to God

An interesting comparison by Bobby Grow:

Scholastic Reformed theologians claim to be in line with Nicene theology proper. But when you read scholastic Reformed theology, particularly their confessions, what becomes immediately apparent is that scholastic Reformed theology operates out of the apophatic ‘negative’ and/or speculative tradition for thinking a doctrine of God (and Christ); whereas Nicene theology thinks from cataphatic ‘positive’ and/or revealed theology for thinking God. By way of prolegomena or theological methodology this places Niceno-Constantinopolitano theology at loggerheads with something like we see in the scholastically Reformed Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF).

First, the Reformed theologians aren’t the only ones working in an apophatic tradition. Moses Maimonides did likewise, and his contribution is certainly valued by Aquinas and myself.

Second, I am inclined to think that Grow is right on this point. As frequent visitors to this site will attest, I’m not much on Reformed theology in any form, and as the years pass I get progressively sourer on the subject. Pieces like this only justify my antipathy.

Third, I think it’s fair to say that Scholastic theology, of which I am an enthusiastic student, started to go downhill after Aquinas, which is the opposite of the narrative that, say, Francis Schaffer was so enamoured with. The idea of a “Reformed Scholasticism” is somewhere between an oxymoron and a sign of the decline that began years before Calvin and Luther.

Fourth, I wonder if this apophatic aspect of Reformed scholasticism made it easy for the Sydney Anglicans to come up with their lame idea of functional subordination in the Trinity without essential subordination. That’s just speculation on my part.

The one part I’m not so sure about is this:

But this is to our point: to think God from speculative philosophical notions, as the Arians and Homoiousions did, only leads to unbiblical conclusions, and thus grammar about who God is; indeed, it thinks of God in terms of whatness rather than whoness as a first-step. Athanasius, and the Nicene theology he helped develop, repudiated thinking God from Hellenic frames of reference, and instead allowed God’s Self-revelation in the Son, Jesus Christ, to shape the way he, and the other Nicenes, thought God.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, the whole Arian controversy ran in the context of Greek philosophy. Athanasius and his homoousion colleagues simply did a better job aligning it with the Scriptures. It was ultimately beyond the ken of Greek philosophy to explain essential subordination in the triune Godhead, but I think that problem can be solved.

Book Review: William Palmer Ladd’s Prayer Book Interleaves

Significant movements and trends in both history in general and the church in particular tend to be long term. That’s one reason why Evangelicals have been skunked by their opponents: the Evangelicals are in a hurry for the Lord’s return and their opponents are playing, more or less, the long game.

Such it is with liturgy. The fights we have today over Novus Ordo vs. TLM and that dreadful 1979 BCP vs. the rest (and that’s an oversimplification given Anglicanism’s complex structure) have been brewing for a century or more. You can even see that in the much-vaunted 1928 BCP, and the ink wasn’t even dry on the first printing when the “hankering for more” started.

A great deal of that hankering is expressed in this book, Prayer Book Interleaves by Dean William Palmer Ladd, Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School. The book is a posthumous compilation of the Dean’s articles, mostly written in the late 1930’s.

Ladd died 1 July 1941, just after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union and five months before the U.S. would enter the war. The gathering storm, the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and of course the spectre of Communism are a background for the work and give it a relevance for our time, since both of these movements–and many others–continue to challenge Christianity here and elsewhere.

So what is Ladd’s solution? Ladd himself was a part of what he and we call the Liturgical Movement, that movement that had its genesis in Roman Catholicism and which rumbled through the system until it burst into full view with Vatican II and the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae in 1970. It’s tempting to see the Episcopal Church as a remora on this shark, but Ladd certainly didn’t think so. Although he is aware of the differences in the challenges of each, he is also aware of the commonalities of them as well, although even he admits that the Cranmerian liturgy was, in reality, a first step in addressing the problems of the Roman liturgy.

His central thesis is that the Holy Communion should return as the normal service on Sunday.  He expressed this belief as follows:

Each worshipper shared in the worship of the whole Catholic Church, earthly and heavenly. Brotherhood and loyalty, democracy and equality, were spiritual realities having a super-natural basis. The eucharistic fellowship excluded any distinction between aristocrats and slaves. It was not undermined by snobs and money-grubbers, our fifth column today. (p. 8)

I suggest that the essential on which we should concentrate today is the Holy Eucharist. (p.63)

The practice for the Eucharist to be the service on Sunday is of course normative in Roman Catholicism.  He repeats this sentiment elsewhere, but his idea ignores the following:

  1. The church in his day and ours lacks the vetting process the early church had for admitting people into the Communion.  They even dismissed the catechumens before that part of the service!  I doubt this would go over very well now.
  2. Christianity today lacks the unity of opinion about what the Eucharist basically is, something I pointed out in Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology: It Depends on What “Is” Is.  Ladd tries his best to ignore or minimize this inconvenient truth, and that’s a typically Episcopal approach to a problem: paper over differences with either liturgical niceties or Anglican fudge.  My high school chaplain attempted to do that on this issue and I was totally unconvinced.  Subsequent history (to say nothing of this) has borne out the importance of this problem.
  3. His characterisation of the “snobs and money grubbers” as a “fifth column” denies the reality of the Episcopal Church’s elevated demographics: They’re not a fifth column, they’re front and centre!  This problem would only get worse with the aftermath of World War II, and is something the ACNA needs to watch with C4SO.
  4. He objects to the fact that the Holy Communion’s lectionary readings have none of the Old Testament. Of course, that’s what Morning and Evening Prayer are all about, right? It’s also interesting that, while he was decrying the lack of OT readings for the Holy Communion, the editors of the 1928 BCP’s lectionary were toning down those they thought were in bad taste! The subsequent changes in the lectionary for the RCC, TEC and ACNA speak for themselves.

Some other interesting quotes are as follows:

From thinking of the failure of the Roman Church to cultivate a living liturgical tradition, my mind wandered off to the many ways in which that great communion is a reactionary and obscurantist influence in our modern life. I recalled its hostility to the child-labor amendment, its sinister censorship of the American press and movies, its bloody hand in Spain, its self-seeking political intrigue all over the world. And then in a more Christian mood I recalled the fact that such a repudiation of the gospel is by no means a monopoly of the Roman branch of the Church and that as a matter of fact again and again the Romans have fought for the underdog. How about our own shortcomings-our alliance with a favored social and economic class, our self-indulgent living, our cut-and-dried worship, our snobbishness, our racial intolerance, our neglect of Christian unity, our ineffective missionary effort, our bankrupt Christian education, our indifference to theological learning? Such thoughts were depressing. But suddenly the Easter Alleluia rang out-‘Praise ye the Lord!’ and the Tract -‘The truth of the Lord remaineth forever!’ Then a deacon came down from the altar, knelt before the archiepiscopal throne, and held out a book for the archbishop to kiss. It was the gospel book. That was a reassuring ceremony. Miserable sinners are we all-but still Christians-and in some degree we do pay allegiance to the risen Lord and his gospel. (pp. 59-60)

His position on the Spanish Civil War is curious in view of the fact that his friends at the Maria Laach monastery–a centre of the Liturgical Movement and an inspiration to him–were playing footsies with the Nazis, an alliance that would bear bad fruit in places like Vichy France. I saw the Gospel procession in my “visit” to Bethesda last year, and it really hasn’t made a dent to that church’s formalism or its elevated demographics, with all of the unpleasant consequences he points out.

But what is unsatisfactory in this search for fundamentals is that when we find them they are not necessarily Christian. They underlie religion in general. And the very ideas mentioned above stand out, in fact, in that great revolution which is fundamentally religion and which is so much in all our minds today-Hitlerism. Fellowship? Yes, the fellowship of all Germans as against the world is both more evident and more effective than our Christian fellowship. Sacrifice? What sacrifices have not the German people made in the last ten years, and still are making for the sake of their Reich! Faith? Not the eucharistic faith in the risen Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit, yet a faith that removes mountains. Sanctification of the material world? That is the meaning of ‘blood and soil.’ What is lacking is the Christian way of life. Hate, revenge, lying, ruthless cruelty, have taken the place of justice, truth, long-suffering, mercy, pity, peace, and love. Belief in God, but rejection of Christ. An altar, but no Christian gospel upon it. (p. 74)

Comparing the enthusiasm of the Nazis to the lack he sees in Christianity is similar to the comparison I made with the Communists, and frankly I didn’t get much of a response. But that leads me to my next quote…

These thoughts have come to me recently as I have been watching the antics of one of those crucifers of the familiar type who parade up the church alley with gauntleted hands, cross pressed against chin and nose, eyes peering into space, body stiffly leaping forward in a sort of goosestep at each beat of the music. I am hopeless of trying to open the eyes of the clergy to the absurdity and vulgarity of this performance, and to the discredit which it must bring on the Church in the eyes of people of good taste and reverent feeling. What can be done? (p. 106)

Had the Third Reich–to say nothing of the Soviets–not given goosestepping such a bad name, that’s exactly what we (youth choir and acolytes alike) would have done, especially when our organist struck up the 1940’s Hymnal’s #385. It definitely had a “Dr. Strangelove” feel to it. OTOH, while he continually decries stepping in time with the music, I have no idea what a reasonable alternative would be.

Such an ideal of worship characterizes many parts of our eucharistic service, notably the dialogue beginning ‘Lift up your hearts,’ which, since the earliest times, has inaugurated the solemn oblation and communion. But other parts of the service have a definitely individualistic character. In the Middle Ages, that ‘period of unexampled liturgical decay,’ as Father Gregory Dix calls it, people began to go to mass to get something out of it for themselves, or for their relatives and friends in purgatory. Our Prayer Book inherited this individualism. Cranmer prided himself that with the new service it would be ‘every man for himself.’ The confession is of that character; it is of individual, not corporate, sins. And when at the climax of the service the worshipper kneels at the altar to receive communion, he is turned back upon himself with the words ‘given for thee,’ ‘preserve thy soul,’ ‘Christ died for thee.’

Today this ‘save your soul’ approach to religion is completely discredited. It should be eliminated from the Eucharist. There should be intercessions, as the rubric allows, on subjects about which the whole congregation is, or ought to be, concerned, such as the parish and the community, missions and social justice. And in the political sphere we should supplement the antiquated petition that God may ‘direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian rulers’; the ‘rulers’ today are mostly infidels, and, even if our Christian President made himself a ‘ruler’ with Almighty God to direct his heart, it would not solve the greatest of our political problems. To omit the confession, as has already been suggested, would be a gain. (p. 110)

The “communal” nature of the Eucharist of the Liturgical Movement aficionado is the greatest weakness of the whole enterprise. He, like so many others, ignores the real lesson of the Wesleyan revival and works under the assumption that, if we renew the liturgy, the people will be renewed. What he cannot understand is that it isn’t an “either/or” proposition but a “both/and” proposition: the renewal of the liturgy and the renewal of the people must go together even if they are not the same, otherwise we do two things: we force people to choose between their eternal destiny and liturgical correctness, or we end up with a people who simply go through a new set of motions. That style of mind has made the last half century or more a difficult road for many of us.

I’d also make another comment about his disparaging comments re our rulers: he says elsewhere that “Only a few Christian rulers like Chiang Kai-Shek and some South American despots are left.” (p. 65) Those are interesting choices for a social justice person like Ladd, to say the least.

He spends a lot of time in reviewing the proposing changes for the 1928 BCP that I’m sure those who put together the 1979 BCP took into consideration. Had he and his contemporaries taken into consideration the realities of the Christian life and not been so obsessed with their own idea the whole Liturgical Movement would have borne better fruit for Anglican and Catholic alike. It’s good, however, to let a proponent of the movement like him speak for himself in Prayer Book Interleaves by Dean William Palmer Ladd; it’s easier to see the strong and weak points of something that has impacted many of us.

John Wesley and the Liturgy

From William Palmer Ladd’s Prayer Book Interleaves:

The Church of England had its Prayer Book, and thus the liturgical way of life was kept alive. But when in the XVIII century, the heyday of the Whig bishops, the easy-going parsons, and the infrequent Eucharists, a prophet arose in the person of John Wesley, the Church knew not the day of its vindication, and literally stoned him. In 1938 many Anglicans, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, joined with Methodists throughout the world in observing the 200th anniversary of Wesley’s ‘Aldersgate Experience.’ That a priest of the Church of England should have had a religious experience was a strange reason for such an elaborate commemoration. And, unfortunately, it identified Wesley with modern Methodist prayer-meetings, whereas he was essentially a Prayer Book churchman, and the embodiment of Anglicanism at its best.

Reared in the churchly atmosphere of his father’s vicarage and of Oxford University, he came to an understanding of sacramental theology by a study of the Fathers, of Jeremy Taylor and other Caroline divines, and of non-juring churchmen like William Law. In his preaching tours throughout England he always attended the services of the parish church. He received communion weekly, and indeed as many as four times each week on the average throughout his entire ministry, so it has been estimated. He urged the duty of constant communion. And his communion services attracted the common people beyond the capacity of the churches to hold them. Few priests in any period of Church history have ever done more to popularize the Holy Communion.

His one lapse from Anglican order-laying his hands on Coke-is to be explained in part by his acceptance of St.Jerome’s teaching of the equality of bishops and presbyters, but chiefly by his intense conviction of the importance of the Holy Communion. It was a desperate step, but he took it only after he had repeatedly failed to persuade the English bishops to provide bishops and sacraments for his American Methodists. Seabury similarly failed. The two were in London at the same time. If they could have met and agreed on a common plan of action. it might have changed the religious destiny of the new world. (pp. 18-19)

Ecclesia Anglicana: For What Does She Stand? by Frank Weston

Clip source: Ecclesia Anglicana: For What Does She Stand? by Frank Weston For What Does She Stand? by Frank WestonProject Canterbury Ecclesia Anglicana: For What Does She Stand? An Open letter to the Right Reverend Father in God Edgar, Lord Bishop of St. Albans by Frank [Weston], Bishop of Zanzibar London: Longmans, Green & Co.,…

Ecclesia Anglicana: For What Does She Stand? by Frank Weston

You’re an Anglican Now, Scot McKnight, Leave the Baptistic Stuff Behind

I never thought I’d ever see a debate on the subject of the inerrancy of Scriptures in an Anglican context.  But one Dr. Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary and (I think) in the C4SO (the usual source of trouble in the ACNA these days) has put himself front and centre with a piece on the inerrancy of the Scriptures.  This is an important topic, but the way he sets things forth shows me that Evangelicals are too deep into their own stuff, even when they try to escape into places like the ACNA.

My first exposure to the term was an article in the original Jerome Biblical Commentary, and needless to say they weren’t too hot on the idea.  They also got into the hermeneutical issues surrounding this, which I’ll come back to.  Later on I read Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible, which really was the call to arms (not WO) for the Southern Baptist Resurgence in the 1970’s.

I think that the Scriptures are God’s authoritative revelation, period.  I used the term “unBiblical” regularly on this site to characterise positions which are either sub-Christian or completely non-Christian; the fact that we have this revelation makes this job possible.  The whole push for the inerrancy of the Scriptures a half century ago was the result of conditions which have changed.

The undermining of the basic concept of the truth content of the Scriptures came from the advent of German Higher Criticism.  A good case can be made that the whole shipwreck of the Episcopal Church had its genesis in the acceptance of this in the seminaries.  Once this is done the Scriptures lose both their claim to truth and their relevance to Christians now.  This underpinned the modernist attack on traditional Christianity.

Higher Criticism represented an attempt to beat the Biblical narrative, and how it came into being, into the form of German philosophy.  That may have made it possible to think that our seminaries had assumed the mantle of science, but it was pseudo-science, for many reasons.  One place where the deconstruction of that narrative has taken place is Biblical archeology.  McKnight speaks disparagingly of that, but the process has been going on since at least the days of Roland de Vaux and continues to the present.

All of this created the shipwreck that hit the rocks after World War II.  The Episcopal Church bled members during the late 1960’s and 1970’s in the aftermath of this.  Evangelical churches picked up some of these pieces, fuelled not only by their affirmation of the truth content of the Scriptures but, in the case of the Pentecostals and Charismatics, the manifested belief that God did the same things to day that he did in the Scriptures.  It’s a lot easier to believe the former when you hold to the latter.

Liberals, when surveying the wreckage they wrought, realised (if not admitted) the error of their technique.  So they came up with a new approach: postmodernism, where the idea shifts from “the Scriptures say it, but they’re not reliable,” to “the Scriptures say one thing, but really mean another.”  They’ve shifted the debate from an textual reliability issue to a hermeneutical one.  That, I think, is where the real conflict is, but McKnight and others are still deep into the stuff they started with.

So what is to be done? In one place McKnight gives a clue by saying that “we can talk about “inerrancies”: Origenist, Augustinian, Protestant, Princetonian, and even postmodern!”  I give an example of this in my piece Why Evangelicals Don’t Read Philo Judaeus. Philo very much believed in the inerrancy of the Scriptures but had no problem denying, for example, New Earth Creationism.  I have discussed Origen himself in my piece The Significance of the Literal Meaning of Scripture: An Example from Origen.  Getting rid of the term “inerrancy” really doesn’t accomplish anything except perhaps making him and other refugees from Evangelicalism feel better about themselves.

We need more than that.  What we need is some kind of agreement on a hermeneutic.  I left out the term “authority” from the discussion because I don’t think that any Protestant church has or can claim authority to interpret the scriptures and make same interpretation stick.  Given Anglicanism’s rootedness in the Apostolic tradition, a Patristic-based hermeneutic would make sense, but getting most seminaries and seminary academics to go along with that will be an uphill battle.

So in the meanwhile: McKnight and others like him would do well to leave their qualms about things like inerrancy in their Baptistic past and move forward with what they really believe the Bible says and means.

That They May All Be One, Even If Their Educational Level is Different

This past weekend I reposted two articles The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of the Self – Covenant (Part 1 of 2) and The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of Anglicanism – Covenant (Part 2 of 2).  As some of you may suspect, the principal reason why I reposted these excellent articles is because they, at last, highlight what is probably my pet peeve about North American Anglicanism, be it in its Episcopal, ACNA, Continuing or Charismatic form: it’s class stratification, or more specifically the elevated socio-economic position of most of its adherents.  (They’re mostly white too.)  As the second article points out (it was really difficult to pick a particular passage out, there are so many good ones):

Surely, even the most glancing look at the demographic make-up of our parishes would make clear why the social issues Anglophone Anglicans concern themselves with most passionately are indistinguishable from the popular causes of the urban white elite of the day. So it is that when we hear some official pronouncement from a diocesan office or synod, we hear little that is discernably Anglican by any doctrinal or historical measure, nor even Christian. Instead, what we are greeted with is something that is conspicuously identical to the ideological talking points peddled by the political machines. While this problem might be obviously skewed towards parroting the liberal talking points of the day given the state of our hierarchy, our conservative loyalists often do no better in resisting the thought-terminating influence of propaganda. TEC’s turn from being the Republican Party at Prayer to the Democratic Party at Prayer was, after all, little more than a sleight of hand in the parlor room of the ruling class.
So why is our Anglican witness so mealy-mouthed, complacent, and derivative? Why are we, despite all our practiced journalese, so out of touch with both our Christian siblings around the world and the unchurched neighbors? Perhaps on an institutional level it is because Anglophone Anglicans have never experienced a true crisis of wealth and power until recent decades. Unlike our Christian siblings across the world who have and continue to suffer true persecution and are sustained by the blood of the martyrs, our current troubles are almost entirely self-inflicted. We have always been the church of the elite for the elite — and not just in England. For how small Anglicanism has been in America, a disproportionately large number of American presidents have been Episcopalians. Our stately pretentions run so high that the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Washington D. C. is instead known as the “National Cathedral.” What purchase, after all, do the dusty names of the chiefs of the Apostles have next to the glorious hegemony of the United States? Cuius regio, eius religio is our true ecclesiastical motto — that is, render unto Caesar the things which are God’s.

 

American non-Catholic (a hat tip to Baptists and Pentecostals who don’t think they’re really Protestants) Christianity is class-stratified from top to bottom, with the Anglicans on top, the Pentecostals on the bottom, and everyone else in the middle.  That stratification is reflected in the educational level and ethnic makeup of the memberships.  There’s really nothing Biblical about Christianity being this way.

Today American Christianity in general and the ACNA in particular are faced with things like Critical Race Theory and wokeness.  And it’s true that neither of these is Biblical either.  But ignoring the first unBiblical behaviour to deal with the second (and third and…) doesn’t help.  As long as North American Anglicanism doesn’t find a way to deal with its demographic trap, it’s going to face these issues with one hand tied behind its back, irrespective of the Biblical eloquence of those who rightly oppose the import of these ideas.

It’s all ironic because the ACNA was ultimately birthed by the intervention of several African provinces of the Anglican Communion, which themselves are the demographic (and vis a vis TEC doctrinal) opposites of their North American counterparts.  I really think the ACNA missed a moment when it insisted on autocephaly from these bodies, and it continues to miss it by not even attempting to force the CoE’s hand in turning over the Communion to the Africans.

Things get worse because many of those attracted to the ACNA from the Evangelical world come to it in the same largely white, upwardly mobile (ecclesiastically and socio-economically) group that shrinks from really pushing back from ideologies that come from the top of our secular society, as that would impede the upward mobility.  That’s the lesson from the recent stink re C4SO and the “gay Anglicans” row.  It’s one I’ve pointed out in my own church, which a few years back had the “Think Younger” idea about new ministers coming in and taking things over.  I had the bad taste to point out that their list of luminaries was overwhelmingly white and didn’t reflect the composition (or the future) of our own church.  Their response was rather mushy.

This won’t be an easy task.  (Just ask the United Methodists!)  People from different classes look at life differently, and ethnic differences only complicate things further.  To weld these into one church is not simple and is going to involve putting aside stereotypes and conventional wisdom.  If done right, to do so will insure the doctrinal integrity of the church much longer than ignoring this problem.

Our Lord prayed “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21 KJV) We usually think of our denominational differences with this passage, but if we can’t get our act together on issues of educational level (which drive our class differences these days) and the other things that set us apart from each other, does the organisational division really matter?

The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of Anglicanism – Covenant (Part 2 of 2)

Clip source: The Neoliberal Age Part II: The Decomposition of Anglicanism – Covenant (Part 2 of 2) The Decomposition of Anglicanism – Covenant This is an essay in two parts. Part one may be found here. By Paul (H. Matthew Lee) “Anglican ministers and bishops are proud and rich, live in wealthy parishes and dioceses…

The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of Anglicanism – Covenant (Part 2 of 2)

The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of the Self – Covenant (Part 1 of 2)

Clip source: The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of the Self – Covenant The Decomposition of the Self – Covenant This is an essay in two parts. Part two may be found here. By Paul (H. Matthew Lee) “In combating racism we do not make progress if we combat the people themselves. We have to combat…

The Neoliberal Age: The Decomposition of the Self – Covenant (Part 1 of 2)

Anglican Tidbit: Bookplate of Frederic S. Fleming, Rector of Trinity Wall Street

Below is an interesting artefact: the bookplate of the Rev. Frederic S. Fleming (1886-1956,) Rector of Trinity Wall Street from 1932 to 1951.

The book it came from was The Divine Liturgy by Herbert Luckock, which I reviewed here.  Given his High Church inclination, I’m sure it was a favourite.

His signature in the book is here.

Like other Episcopal ministers, he started out in the corporate world, in his case Nabisco.  He was elected to the episcopate but turned it down, preferring to be a rector.  He was a member of many boards, some of them charitable institutions.

A Young Episcopalian Writes About Pentecost

My last year in Church School was in sixth grade, after which I “graduated,” first into youth choir and then as an acolyte.  For that final year our teacher got the idea for us to put out a “newspaper” (the Jerusalem Daily News, obviously a take-off the Shiny Sheet) which might have been put out after the day of Pentecost, or Whitsunday.  I got to write two of the articles and they looked like this:

New Sect Founded on Pentecost Day

At 3:00 this morning a sudden rush of “wind and fire” came upon the apostles of the late Jesus Christ and their guests.  The early rumor was that the apostles and their guests were drunk, but Peter, one of the apostles, said that “they had been filled with the Holy Spirit.”  The new sect was called the Christian Church, and its doctrine is the one set down by Jesus Christ.

Later in the day 3,000 people were baptized.

3,000 People Were Baptized

This afternoon 3,000 people were baptized, becoming members of the Christian Church.
These people vowed to follow the doctrine of the church, like to take communion and to give prayers.
After that the newly received people sold all their possessions and left the city.
Two years ago John the Baptist was doing a similar ceremony in the River Jordan before he was murdered.

Some comments;

  1. I think they had me write this in two stages.
  2. The business of the “late Jesus Christ” was a journalistic adaptation (I’d hate to see what our media would put down these days.)
  3. The business of “3:00 this morning” showed how much I understood the watch system of the New Testament.  If my parents taken a more proactive stance in my Christian education, I would have been informed that the Holy Spirit fell at 0900.
  4. The idea that the people “sold all their possessions and left the city” is entirely sensible in a wealthy place like Palm Beach.
  5. One of our Rector’s (Hunsdon Cary’s) favourite books to quote was Virginia Cary Hudson’s (relative?) O Ye Jigs and Juleps.  In it she expresses the desire to visit the Holy Rollers, but her parents wouldn’t let her go.  Little did I realize that I would end up in a Pentecostal church (and work for same for 13 1/2 years,) but God has a sense of humor.