Charismatic Anglicans: The Missing Link

When many people hear of the Charismatic Renewal, they roll their eyes and pray that the conversation goes another way.  It is amazing that a movement that had such a wide impact in its day is not only forgotten but gleefully so.  There are a few holdouts out there–the Charismatic Episcopal Church is the main reminder, but there are pockets in the AMiA and even the TEC if one looks hard (and fast at the rate things are going) enough.

It is our opinion that the Charismatic Renewal was the great missed opportunity of North American Christianity in the twentieth century.  Had it succeeded, it could have stopped liberalism dead in its tracks and brought the disparate Christian groups and "traditions" (we hate that word but don’t know a good alternative to it) together in a more positive way than the sappy "ecumenical movement" could or can do.

But it didn’t do these things.  It did a lot to fuel an exodus out of the "Main Line" (the capitalisation is deliberate) and Roman Catholic churches into many places–in some cases classical Pentecostal churches, but more frequently conservative Evangelical churches and even more independent Charismatic churches.  It left these churches in the control of others: the Main Line churches in the hands of the liberals, the Roman Catholic church in the hands of John Paul II.

How did this result take place?  One problem was the lack of support from the hierarchy of their respective churches.  Their idea of renewing the church from within was ground to powder from above.  But another part of the problem was a lack of effective leadership, as we discuss elsewhere. Many of the leaders of the Renewal were inexperienced and basically not up to the job.

The one group of people with the experienced leadership that could have helped were the classical Pentecostals, but they (with a few exceptions) did not do so.  Part of the problem was a turf battle; after years of carrying the standard of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, they looked askance at those who not only had found it without them but weren’t planning to join their churches after receiving it.

But another, more serious problem, was doctrinal.  Pentecostals had a very definite sequence of events in mind for the believer.  You first got saved, then you were sanctified (whether this was an event or a process was a matter of dispute) and then baptised in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.  Charismatics were unwilling to accept the Pentecostals’ rigid idea of holiness, leading one very prominent Pentecostal preacher to tell his denomination that there could be only one standard of holiness, not one in the North, one in the South, etc.  (We deal with what this could mean in At the Inlet.)  Moreover many Charismatics, although speaking in tongues, could not bring themselves to rigidly link tongues with the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The Charismatics’ "open-ended" approach to tongues has led to much of the silliness that surrounds the subject today.  Many consider the whole thing as a "tradition" or a "spirituality" on par with meditation or whatever happends to be trendy at the moment.  They ignore the central role of Holy Spirit baptism had at the founding of the church or throughout the book of Acts.

Beyond that, however, the Charismatics’ greatest mistake surrounding the baptism in the Holy Spirit–the "missing link," if you please–is their overlooking of the importance of sanctification preceding the baptism.  Coming out of the Holiness-Wesleyan stream, Pentecostal pioneers knew that personal holiness had to be in place before the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  The alternative is chaos, which is pretty much what we had in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Pentecostals’ concept of holiness in rigidly legalistic terms has come in for justified criticism–to which many Pentecostals have responded by chucking the whole holiness business altogther–but the idea is correct.

And this leads us to the centre of our contention: as shocking as it will sound to some, the whole modern Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is the end game of the English Reformation from a purely doctrinal standpoint, if not an institutional or liturgical one.  This deserves an explanation, and with God’s help we’ll give one.

Reformed theology made inheriting eternal life a simple matter: you had faith in God (an act which God caused,) your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and that was it.  There was no need for penance or the church, but there was no need for spiritual growth or having to do anything, good, bad or indifferent.  The logical end to this is a butt-sitting religion where people can pompously proclaim they’re going to heaven without any further action on their part.  Mercifully many members of Reformed churches have not "connected the dots" in this way, and they are a blessing to themselves, the people around them and to God himself.

But, when things get across the Channel, there’s Article XVI.  The whole idea that people can fall way ("backslide," to use the traditional terminology) implies movement.  If people can move back in their relationship with God, they can move forward.  This turns the Christian life from a static to a dynamic business.  It puts movement into one’s relationship with God.  It also puts movement into one’s life to serve God and to do the work that he left us here to do.  The "fuel" behind this, from Jewel to Wesley, is sanctification, personal holiness that enables the believer to “… lay aside everything that hinders us, and the sin that clings about us, and run with patient endurance the race that lies before us…” (Hebrews 12:1b)  Sanctification as the work of the Holy Spirit means that God interacts in a positive with us after we are reborn in him.

And this leads us to the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  It is more than a tradition; it is rooted in the early church from the day it started.  But, as explained in LifeBuilders Essentials, it is not a principally emotional experience either.  It is the "fuel" to empower the believer to share one’s faith with others in whatever way that God has directed an individual to do so.  Once again the idea is the same: progress for the individual in one’s walk with God, and progress for the church as it seeks to fulfil it’s God-given mission.  This is why, after barely a century on the earth, so many Christians consider themselves to be Pentecostal or Charismatic, and show the gifts and manifestations that go with that.  But in the process many were saved through the exercise of the same power, so the movement that is seen to be demonstrative is also evangelistic.

So where does this leave Anglicans?  Like the Charismatic Renewal, Anglicanism is one of those great missed opportunities in Christianity.  As we explained in Taming the Rowdies, the Church of England started off with everything: state support, Protestant doctrine (with the seeds of fixing the Reformation) and a rich liturgical worship.  Unfortunately the whole thing got caught up in both the doctrinal tug-of-war between Reformed and Catholic and in the socio-economic conflicts of seventeenth-century England.  The result was that the truly comprehensive, scriptural Anglicanism of Elizabeth I died with Laud and Charles I.  Ever since too much of Anglicanism has felt duty-bound to present a "nice" religion that didn’t offend people or create controversy, and in North America that meant one whose primary appeal was to the upper reaches of society.

But that wasn’t the original idea.  And there’s no reason why Anglicans can’t be the leaders in the sweep towards the new Pentecost that they, in one way, initiated.  There’s no reason why liturgical worship cannot be Spirit-led (it has been done.)  And there’s no reason why the religion whose foundational doctrinal statement implies the important of forward movement cannot emphasise personal holiness instead of losing itself in aesthetics or social niceties.

But one major obstacle to the last point is the emergence of the business of "Affirming Catholicism," and it is to this we will turn next.

Rudy Giuliani and the Dilemma of Christian Conservatives

It’s no real surpise that Rudy Giuliani is running for President.  The surprise comes in how well he does in polls of Republicans.  The apparent attempt of the party’s higher echelons to "crown" John McCain early and avoid a hard primary/caucus season is not going as well as planned.  What your opinion of this depends upon what kind of outcome in this coming election you’re looking for.

For Christian conservatives, the 2008 Presidential election looks to be an unpleasant business.  Neither of the two social conservatives in the race (Brownback and Huckabee) look to be able to get sufficient traction–and a lot of that traction means money–to move forward into the primary moment (and this time, we mean moment.)  None of the "front-runners" really catches fire: McCain has ben erratic in just about every way, Romney is LDS (and erratic in his own way,) and Giuliani, in some ways conservative, is a social liberal in many others.  What’s a Christian conservative to do?

The answer to that depends upon what how one see the best approach for Christians to take in our society.  There are, in reality, two possible options.

The first is what we call the "level playing field" option.  We touched on this in our 2001 piece entitled, appropriately enough, Levelling the Playing Field.  In this the primary duty of the state is to create a fair enviroment by which people can both practice their religion as they see God directing them and share it openly with otheres.  In many ways this is what has been attempted by our current constitution, although our system does presuppose the existence of a God who is able to endow his creatures with inalieanable rights.

The greatest threat to this has been and is the expansion of the role of the state.  The state has its own interests, values and desires from its people; Christianity, with its primary focus on God as the ultimate authority, is in many ways a threat to those interests, values and desires.  As long as the state is relatively small and Christians do their usual loyal service to the state, things are fine.  When the state expands and anti-Christian groups use that expansion to further their own agenda, we have the problems present today.

The second is the "Christian nation" option.  In this Christians seek acknowledgment that we are a Christian nation, have been from the beginning, and need to continue to be if we are to be a successful nation.  Those Christian roots need to see their way into our legal system and national life in every way possible.  Christian conservative thought has gravitated in this direction largely because liberals have used the state to their advantage.  Christians figure that, if liberals can do it for evil, why can’t Christians do it for good?

There are several ways to answer that question.  From our perspective, the biggest problem is that Christian conservatives do not have a viable game plan to establish a really explicitly Christian nation on the North American continent.  To start with they are not willing to put together the state church necessary to implement the uniformity of belief necessary in such a situation (just think about uniting all of the conservative denominations and you will see what we mean.)  Many of them are unwilling to accept the hard realities of nationhood in a world where power challengers abound and the power to respond effectively to all of them is limited (the neocons are, if anything, worse in this regard.)  And last but not least theonomic Christians are not willing (mercifully) to even admit the need of the army of Joshua to achieve their objectives.  Liberals have this idea that theocracy is around the corner, but evangelical Christianity in the U.S. is better suited to help ordinary people live their lives successfully than to implement their plan on a nationwide basis.

Enter Rudy Giuliani.  Although he was for many years a U.S. Attorney, his best known position was that of Mayor of New York.  This is not an easy job; New York is a place with a plethora of obstructionist interest groups accompanied by lawyers who love to sue.  Guiliani, with the memory of the 1970’s behind him (the city basically went broke and the crime went wild) realised that New York, financial capital though it was, would not prosper without some significant improvement in the quality of life.  So he began by concentrating on the petty crime: panhandlers, squeegee operators, etc.  His idea was that, if you could clean up the petty crime, the major things like murder and armed robbery would be a lot simpler.  His strategy worked; all of these crimes declined under and the city became a place people really wanted to come to again.

11 September 2001 was Rudy’s defining moment, the place where he showed himself to be a leader.  In that moment he became America’s Mayor.  The city that preferred to go in many directions went in one.  The subsequent course of the "war on terror" showed that the first response was the best thought out, even though it was implemented "on the fly."  There were certainly mistakes and unhappy people in its wake, but one expects this, especially in a place as hard to pull together as New York.

Giuliani’s specialty is the one thing government needs to be good at: public order and security.  We can talk all we want about "righteousness" in government, but a government that can’t properly defend the country or deal with internal threats to public order isn’t much of a government.  The present administration has at least been able to quell domestic terrorist attacks, even though they have sqandered too many resources on adventures like Iraq and overlooked other kinds of threats to public order like Katrina.  The left, mired in Dzerzhinskii’s Dilemma, are at a serious disadvantage in these matters, even though they will use the power of the state to knock down rivals like evangelical Christians.

Given all of this, Christians are a tight place.  Our game plan the last thirty years or so hasn’t moved our agenda forward.  Our elites are still as liberal and unpatriotic as ever, perhaps more so today, and still find it too easy to project their values downward on our schools and other institutions.  Our attempts to "hold it in the road" on Christian sexual and family values such as the exclusivity of sex within marriage and the permanence of marriage have had uninspiring results.  Abortion on demand is still legal after all of the marches, all of the prayers and all of the elections.  Last but not least years of prosperity teaching have lifted some out of poverty but have not moved evanglical Christians significantly upward as a group in society.  To put it another way, we not only cannot "take the city," we struggle to hold things together in our own churches.

Perhaps the time has come to re-emphasise the "level playing field" option, where we focus on preserving our freedoms to both operate the church autonomously and share our faith with others.  What good does it do to bring children into the world to have them taken away by a left-wing state (or a jihadi one) and have their eternal destiny spoiled?  How much value would a "righteous" state be if it could not intelligently defend itself or advance its interests properly (this is the central problem we have in Iraq.)  And how meaningful is Christianity when it is imposed by the force of law in a theonomic situation?  (To see how this plays out, just look at Europe.)

Is Giuliani someone who would make the playing field level again?  These are questions that we need to ask him and any other candidate for President.  To dismiss him out of hand is a serious mistake.  While considering Giuliani and the other candidates, the time has come for Christians to look at what they are doing in the political arena, set some realistic and worthwhile objectives, work more diligently to strengthen our own churches, and realise that the state has definite limits in what it can and should do.  To miss the last point–which too many Christians are doing these days–only validates our statist opponents, and that’s the last thing we need to do.

At the Inlet: June, Part 2 (A marriage and an exile)

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The next day was Pentecost Sunday, always a day of celebration at church, but for Terry everything was a blur.  Monday she came into her office to clean out her things; Prince William would act as his father’s chief subordinate until the elections took place.  The capital’s rumour mill, abuzz enough with William and Cathy’s romance, now added Terry’s future to it.  She spent the next few days resting and spending time with friends and church people she hadn’t had a chance to in a long time.

Later in the week, however, William’s lackey came to her house and announced that the King wanted an audience with her.  She following him to the palace, but again instead of the throne room she once again went to the study.  She entered to find not only the King, but Queen Janet, Princes William and Dennis, Princess Andrea and soon to be Princess Catherine.  The King especially had a grave look as he bid Terry to be seated.  The princes secured the doors and returned to their places.

“Did you solicit this?” the King asked Terry, handing her a piece of parchment.  Terry unrolled it to read a very formally worded and beautifully styled request (she suspected Darlene’s doing on the calligraphy) from King Adam that requested King Henry to release his subject and servant, Terry, from Henry’s service into Adam’s, specifically to be the administrative assistant and spiritual advisor to the Princess Darlene.  As she read the legalese, her eyes widened in astonishment.  She then looked up at the royal family.

“I did not,” Terry said.  “I am in total shock as much as you are.”

“You expect us to believe that?”  William asked.

“I do, God being my witness.”

There was a pause in the room.  Then Henry chuckled and said, “The old buzzard was always the expert in feudal law.  You could probably count the number of requests like this on one hand since Beran broke up.”

“So what are you going to do about this?” Dennis asked Terry.

“It’s not her decision,” Henry flatly stated.  “It’s mine.  However, since I am about to become the Island’s first constitutional monarch, I guess I should at least give her the opportunity to express her desire in this matter.”

Terry knew she was in a tight place; her palms were moist and she trembled.  “Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, my only desire in this case is to minister to a soul which I led to the Lord, and that soul is the Princess Darlene’s. She is the first descendant of the Kings of Beran to have accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour, and if we have any plans of a really new Beran, she is crucial to that plan.  I understand better than anyone the gravity of my taking a position with the country with which we fought such a bloody war of independence.  But as Samuel de Champlain used to say, ‘The salvation of one soul is worth the conquest of an empire,’ and I am prepared to endure whatever hardship befalls me to accomplish that.”

There was a silence in the room, only accompanied by the sniffles of the princesses.  Then Henry leaned forward and said, “I want you to take this position.”

“You do?” Terry asked, stunned.

“Absolutely.  I was a fool to give in to the delegation—my children never tire of reminding me of this.  The charter cities’ objective is to establish a republic like Alemara.  The monarchy in Drahla is in a fight for its life.  I have asked William to be the representative to this new-fangled council from Barlin—I at least got the option to appoint him at the start.  Dennis is my special envoy to the rest of the Island.  Our newest addition, Catherine, is of course at the Central Bank—as you have observed, our friends on the coast will find her a challenge. As our friend, you in Serelia are an important part of our survival as the rulers of Drahla—especially if we fail.

“The wedding is set for two weeks from Saturday.  You will go ahead and officiate the ceremony, then use the activity of the reception and all that to slip out.  Don’t make any direct contacts with the Serelians—Cathy will be your go between, she visits their embassy often as it is.  This plan must not leave this room; I trust the Serelians will keep it under wraps also.”

“It’s hard to believe,” Dennis added, “that the people who benefited most from what you gave have turned on you like this.  We’ll never be able to repay you for what you’ve done—both in affairs of state and spiritually as well.”

“I hope you find happiness in Serelia, even though it breaks my heart to see you go,” Janet said.

“We need to pray,” Andrea stated.  “We’re all facing some major things here, even though I’m ashamed to say my relatives are a big part of the problem.  But no matter what, God can turn this around for the best, because all things still work together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”  They repositioned themselves into a circle, joined hands, and entered into a time of concert prayer—the first time the Drahlan royal family had prayed together about anything.  After a long time of groaning and weeping before the Lord, Dennis took some oil and anointed Terry, who in turn anointed all of the royals, even the King and Queen.  After these things they dined together, discussing the wedding and everything else but the plans for Terry’s departure.

The next two weeks were feverish ones, weeks of preparation for all kinds of things.  Cathy was the shuttle diplomat for Terry’s departure; it gave her a chance to spend time with her old friend. That time was limited since she additionally had to both assume her duties as Managing Director of the Bank and prepare to be William’s bride.  She was amazed at how quickly a royal wedding could be put together, but Janet was experienced at this.  Cathy’s new duties at the bank were facilitated by the fact that the coastal cities—and the northwest for that matter—were more focused on their own election campaigns for the provisional council, as the elections were scheduled for the Monday after the wedding.

The rumour mill found a new high gear during this time.  The palace was finally forced to issue a statement that Terry was going abroad for an extended period after the wedding, which only increased people’s curiosity.  Terry found herself bombarded with questions about this, as did both those who did know and those who didn’t.

Terry baptised William the Sunday before the wedding.  The royals were forced by circumstance to let Vernon Calloway in on the secret, which made it possible for him to make arrangements for some of Terry’s ministerial duties, such as teaching at the Bible school.  The whole process made everyone a little manic-depressive, excited one minute and down the next.

The wedding day finally came.  Because the church was an open structure, the weather was a major factor; they had the wedding in the morning to beat the afternoon rains, and in this they succeeded.  Drahla’s new status on the Island meant that the guest list of dignitaries was unprecedented for them.  The Serelians sent Prince George and their Chancellor, Devin Dillman.  Although this was the first time since the trip that Terry had actually seen George, they interacted little by agreement.  From Alemara came their current President, Clark Garrison, along with their Finance Minister, Morrison Keller.  The Vidamerans sent Queen Helene and her son, Prince Victor.  The Aloxans sent Prince Marc and Princess Bernadette; they had to be especially careful that they were covered every time they sent someone out of the country.  From Collina came the Finance Minister, Rosa Mott, who like Cathy used to work in the Central Bank of Verecunda but whose father had been killed in the war of independence.  Even the Claudians came out of their shell for this one, sending their Grand Worshipful Master Theodore Macken.

Subject to the usual limitations the Drahlans worked under, the wedding was worthy of the guest list, and the people from within Drahla itself filled the church to overflowing.  The wedding went well, but it took all of Terry’s ministerial professionalism to get through it.  The most moving moment took place at the end where, at the request of the couple, those who had been approved came forward to lay hands on William, Cathy and William’s children in concert prayer for their marriage and their governance of Drahla.  This was usually a more spontaneous affair in a Pentecostal church, but for security reasons those who came forward to pray were prequalified and searched; the Drahlan security personnel were still nervous through the whole process.  Some of the foreign guests were a part of this, including the Aloxans, Alemarans, and even Prince George.

When the bride and groom had recessed out of the church along with the rest of the wedding party, everyone began to make their way to the Royal Pavilion for the reception.  Terry for her part started to do the same thing, but at the right moment slipped away and scurried toward the Serelian embassy, her only possession at that point being her new Bible.

When she arrived, the SUV waiting to take her away was waiting out back.  “We’re glad you’re coming with us today,” said Kyle Harmon, the young man who had guarded the yacht when it was tied up at Alemara during the trip.  Kyle opened the back door and Terry got in.  “Your things are already in the back—we’ll make arrangements to move everything else next week.”  Kyle closed the door and went around to start the vehicle and began the journey to Serelia.

One of Terry’s last achievements as Royal Counsellor was to convince the council at Fort Albert to allow a public road to be designated through the orange groves from the Fort to Barlin.  It wasn’t much; it was dirt in most places, but it was passable.  Terry was one of the first beneficiaries of her work as the SUV bounced through woods, swamp and groves.

At the edge of the groves, Kyle said, “This country brings back memories, doesn’t it.”

“This is about where Prince George was captured.”

“You ever think you’d be coming to our court to serve?”

“Never did,” Terry said.  “God has a great sense of humour.  Since they abolished my office, sometimes I know how He felt before the Flood.”

“They’ll figure it out,” Kyle said.  “A lot of people in Serelia think it’s funny, but it’s really not.  Our two nations are too close—when one hurts, we both hurt.  But that’s what always amazed me about Alemara when I was posted down there—the endless yammering in the press about the silliest things, and yet things just keep getting better and better.  It’s just the way things get done in a democracy.  They’ve got a first rate security and intelligence service, too.”

They drove on towards Fort Albert; the road improved as they went.  “Her Highness is really excited about your coming.”

“I am too—she’s why I’m doing this.”

“Whatever you told her coming home made an impact—she spends a lot of time reading the Bible.  Our Bishop is about to go crazy over it—afraid you’ve made her change her religion, so she’ll disestablish the church.”

“That’s not what I was trying to do,” Terry said.  “Darlene is precious—I want to make sure I spend eternity with her.  Besides, I was witnessing to Cathy Arnold anyway.  I couldn’t resist.”

“Princess Catherine is King Henry and the princes’ ace in the hole,” Kyle observed.  “Drago and the rest want two things—a republic and easy credit.  She’s see to it they’ll get neither.”

They reached the Old Beran Road just south of Fort Albert and, turning left, went through the Fort and northward to Serelia.  As they did, things got quiet and Terry had time to look out of the window at the country she had served and ministered to for more than fifteen years.  Although she was looking forward to being with George and Darlene again, she couldn’t shake the feeling that, somehow, she was leaving her freedom behind and going into exile for some crime she had committed.

As was the case the last time she came to the border crossing, she was waved through.  Once again she came up on the supremely nondescript Serelia Beach and Serelia.  She did notice, though, that quite a number of septic tanks were going in people’s back yards.

“We’re going to fix this lake,” Kyle said.  “The tanks were one of the main sticking points with the Verecundans—they always maintained that septic tanks were ‘an affront to the Earth.’”

“Takes one to know one,” Terry quipped.

“We’re still working on the water treatment and sewer contracts,” Kyle said.

They almost reached the palace, but Kyle turned off to the right and went to the Prince Arthur Inn.  They pulled up to the front.  “They weren’t sure when you were coming—they want to do a proper presentation tomorrow afternoon.  I told them not to give you the suite your brother usually stayed in.”

“Thank you,” Terry replied.  He went around to open the door; she got out.  They went in and he made sure her room arrangements were in order, and then left her with her things to be taken up by the hotel staff.

She was not in a mood to socialise; she spent a lot of time in prayer and finally feeling the impact of the change she was about to make.  As the sun set, she took her supper on the deck which overlooked the ocean.  After years of being inland, the sea breeze felt good; it had rained a bit as they went up but now the sky was breaking up and she could see the clouds in their graceful formations, lit from behind by the setting sun.  She recalled Darlene’s letter about feeing the presence of God just up the coast; she too felt His presence preparing her for a life in a place she had literally fought for years, but now greeted with a combination of nervous anticipation and peaceful acceptance.

Terry rose early to make the long walk from the Inn down to a house several blocks away.  There were about a dozen people there, who looked at her coming with suspicion; however, when they realised who she was, their greeting was joyful.  The people were part of the Serelia Pentecostal Church, which was part of Terry’s church and whose pastor, Tim Mallen, had been a student of Terry’s at the Drahlan Bible school.  Mallen was both surprised and happy to see her, as were the members who were part of the palace staff and who remembered her from her last visit in March.

The service started about 0830, to accommodate those staff members who had cooking duties at the palace and Cathedral.  Because the church was illegal under Serelian law, they took the usual precautions of any house church. The worship was subdued by Drahlan standards, but the church was well organised, and included a nursery and a complete order of service.  Mallen gave the pulpit to Terry, who simply told the story of how she was forced out of the Drahlan government and how she would be now working for the Serelian.  The congregation responded with an extended time of prayer for Terry.  She had promised to be back to continue God’s work in Serelia during her last visit; her return was taken by the congregation as a sign from Him that she was being sent to Serelia for His purpose and mission.

The service wound up about 0930, not only so the palace staff members could get to their duties, but also so that Pastor Mallen could move on to conduct services for the three additional cells of the house church that he pastored, which extended from Serelia and Serelia Beach to West Serelia.  Terry returned to the Inn, ate and got ready for presentation at court.

Kyle came by about 1445 to pick her up.  They made the short drive to the place and through its gate.  By then it was raining and messy.  She opted to leave her shoes in the foyer of the palace before entering the throne room; the staff who greeted her understood their challenge of finding women’s slippers big enough to accommodate her ample feet, so she opted to enter barefoot on the long Oriental rug which led up to the throne.

She positioned herself at the entrance to the throne room.  Her whole being was in knots.  The last time she was there, she was a head of government and in the company of a Prince of her realm.  Now she was virtually stateless and presenting herself as a member of the palace staff.  Terry was well aware of the limitations of the glory that came with a high position like she had before, but such a transition could not help but be a difficult moment for her.

The doors to the throne room were opened and she walked in slowly.  King Adam and Queen Annette were on their thrones; next to the Queen was Prince George.  Their demeanour was more relaxed and friendly than it was before, but they still observed the formalities of the moment.  Terry stopped at the appointed spot and bowed before her new sovereign.

Terry was at the bottom of her bow when she heard a woman’s voice from the left.  “Terry!” it screamed.  She looked to see a very pregnant Darlene at the threshold.  Darlene literally ran over, arms outstretched, to greet her friend.  Terry went down on her knees, not to be servile but to overcome the difference in their heights.  They hugged each other and cried for a long time.  “I’m so glad you’re here,” Darlene went on and on.  After being together like this for a long time, they suddenly stopped, looked at each other in astonishment, then looked up at the throne.  Terry rose to her feet, but the two had their arms around each other.

“I think we have just wrecked the protocol of this palace,” Terry said.

Adam chuckled, along with Annette and George.  “I don’t think any further greeting here is necessary,” he said, “but tea and coffee are ready in the parlour.”  They went in, Darlene holding Terry’s hand and pulling her in like a child in a store wanting her parent to see a new toy.

They sat down for service and chatted about Terry’s trip and the other events that made the moment possible.  Finally Adam rose to make a more formal statement.  Terry also rose to receive it.

“The release that brought you here,” Adam began, “is a very rare procedure on this Island.  It was initiated in the years immediately after the collapse of Beran to enable to movement of servants and officials from one kingdom to another, as many people found themselves in difficult places as events unfolded very rapidly.  I know that I have never made this kind of request before during my reign, and I do not believe that any other kings have since the 1950’s.

“When we learned of your misfortune and the abolition of your position, we had a lively”—he looked at Darlene—“debate on whether we should make the most of it.  In the end I decided to request your release.  One thing that I have learned about the Princess is that her outpourings of emotion conceal the fact that she is very sparing in her choice of close associates.  These outpourings, though, illustrate that, once she makes up her mind about someone such as yourself, she is very single minded in their pursuit—something we learned all too well during her courtship with my son.”  Everyone got a chuckle out of that.

“We are as sensitive as anyone,” Adam continued, “in the depth of your transition.  We know that you, both as an official of state and a minister in your church, were a respected person in your home country.  For you to leave all of this behind and come to the court of those who were until recently your enemy is a big step, and we will do what we can to make that step as painless as possible.  One of the things that we discovered during your voyage to Verecunda and Aloxa is that you have a prodigious capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is our desire that your presence here will be your reward for that, both for you and also for us.

“As for your duties, as stated in our request you are both an administrative assistant and a spiritual advisor to Her Highness.  You are experienced enough in the workings of government to know how important it is for any government to issue charters for the various types of commercial and other activities that our subjects might conduct.  We have determined that, not only have the difficulties of our situation made us in arrears in issuing and reviewing these charters, but also that it was time for a member of the royal family to look at these herself to insure that the interests of the Crown are not neglected in the bureaucratic process.  We have assigned this task to the Princess Darlene; unfortunately, the clerical help we normally employ has been reassigned due to staffing shortages.  So assisting her in this task will be your primary duty.

“As for the spiritual advice, we have noted the change in Her Highnesses’ views on this subject since her return from the voyage.  Although we had initial reservations about this, we have come to realise that these changes are beneficial to the long-term interests of the nation.  As you were instrumental in these changes, we believe that your presence here will be a positive one.  That presence, however, poses some unique problems, because the church you are affiliated with is not licit in our realm, as the Church of Serelia is the only recognised religion.  How we will work though this problem is an unanswered question, but given what we have accomplished so far, I am confident that a satisfactory solution to this difficulty can be found.”

With this the King ended his speech.  After a pause Terry responded.  “I want to thank you for your gracious invitation and the confidence that you have placed in me.  This too is a big step for you also, in view of our recent war.  My ‘capacity for forgiveness,’ as you state it, comes from my conviction that forgiveness and reconciliation is God’s way for all people, even though that can be difficult to carry out in matters of state.  My reward for that will ultimately be eternal, as my own Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ forgives me as I forgive others.  But all of His eternal benefits have earthly ones too, and I gratefully accept those from Him and from you.”

“There is one important matter we’ve overlooked in all of this speech making,” George said.

“And what is that?” Adam asked, a little miffed.

“The fact that, as the ‘mother country,’ we do like to wear shoes up here.  I think that we should show her what these things are and what they’re for.”

“Don’t be so cocky about this,” Darlene came back.

“Why not?” George asked.

“You’ve never been to the shoe store with her,” Darlene replied.  “We may not have her size here in Serelia.”

Anglican Evangelicalism: The Limitations of Augustinian Theology

In a previous post, we discussed the problems of Anglo-Catholics in their walk to Rome.  We’ve spent a fair amount of time on that; now let’s look at the weakness of the other branch of orthodox Anglicanism, the evangelical wing.  Our contention is that Evangelical Anglicans need to take a hard look at their adherence to Augustinian-Reformed theology.  We will show that those who were at the start of the Church of England understood these limitations and enshrined them in the 39 Articles.

A quick overview of Reformed-Augustinian Theology

Augustine formulated his theology of grace and perseverance in response to the teachings of Pelagius, arguably the most influential Christian teacher to come out of Roman Britain.  Augustine’s insistence on predestination and the perseverance to eternal life that follows from that eliminated the need for human effort that Pelagius implied was necessary.

Augustine’s solution, based on a focus on Paul’s epistles,  was controversial at the time.  Ever since Marcion had used Paul’s writings to advance his idea that the God of the Old Testament and New weren’t one in the same, the church had shied away from rigourously applying Paul’s teachings.  Moreover the early church had always admitted the possibility of falling away after salvation, something that Augustine basically obviated with his emphasis on predestination.  So the Western church rocked on through the Middle Ages, Augustinian in name but not always in reality.

It was Luther who "closed the circle" by realising that, if absolute predestination were true, then we didn’t need the church as a gatekeeper to get us to heaven.  It only took an act of faith–an act which was induced by God–to respond to God’s justification of us.  Calvin gilded the lily by emphasising our total depravity and inability to reach God apart from his initiative.  Both understood that this election was unconditional.

Augustinian theology’s strong point is that it makes a clear distinction between those who are saved and those who are lost.  The weakness is that, because of its insistence on predestination, it blocks the necessity of a lot of Christian activity that the New Testament holds as important.  Spiritual growth is one of those.  Personal holiness is another, especially when we consider that the key to eternal life in a Lutheran context is a legal decision in heaven.  Missions is another, and this is why it took two centuries from what many consider the greatest event in Christian history–the Reformation–to the beginning of serious world missions.  Why bother with missions when everyone is already predestined one way or another?

Augustinian Theology and Early Anglicanism

Early Anglican history was a "tug-of-war" between those who wanted a more "Catholic" type of church and one who wanted a more "Reformed" one.  The 39 Articles are imbued with Augustinian-Reformed thinking (and, yes, we’re of the mind that, if you don’t accept the 39 Articles, you’re not a real Anglican.)  But then there’s Article XVI:

NOT every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

This article is a product of the experience of the early church.  Before Constantine, baptism was strictly for adults who made a profession of faith (those "of riper years," as the 1662 Prayer Book would say) and underwent a catechumenate, or period of instruction and repentance.  Committing serious sin after baptism resulted in serious penance or excommuniciation.  Constantine himself was aware of this: he and his spiritual advisor, Eusebius of Caesarea, had no problem with delaying his baptism until shortly before his death, to avoid those penalties.  As we said earlier, the ante-Nicene church (at least) had always allowed the possibility of falling away after baptism, a baptism which followed a conversion experience.

That having been said, Article XVI torpedoes a straight-up Augustinian-Reformed theological framework for the Anglican.  Any admission that one can lose one’s salvation for any reason once one is elect (and knows it, another feature of Lutheranism is the matter of assurance) breaks the whole Reformed paradigm.

It took a century and a half, but it was John Wesley who finally connected the dots on this issue with his decidedly Arminian view of election and his emphasis on sanctification as a subsequent work of the Holy Spirit.  But same emphasis had already been anticipated by John Jewel:

Besides, though we say we have no meed [reward] at all by our own works and deeds, but appoint all the means of our salvation to be in Christ alone, yet say we not that for this cause men ought to live loosely and dissolutely; nor that it is enough for a Christian to be baptized only and to believe; as though there were nothing else required at his hand. For true faith is lively and can in no wise be idle. Thus therefore teach we the people that God hath called us, not to follow riot and wantonness, but, as Paul saith, “unto good works to walk in them”; that God hath plucked us out “from the power of darkness, to serve the living God,” to cut away all the remnants of sin, and “to work our salvation in fear and trembling”; that it may appear how that the Spirit of sanctification is in our bodies and that Christ himself doth dwell in our hearts. (from An Apology of the Church of England.)

The Position of Modern Evangelicals

Modern Anglican Evangelicals recognise themselves as the heirs of the "Protestant" side of Anglicanism, and rightly so.  One reason why so many parishes and Episcopalians/Anglican people gravitate towards Anglo-Catholicism, however, is because most people of an Evangelical or Reformed bent don’t stay in an Anglican setting, but go elsewhere.  If Evangelical Anglicanism plans to make a serious impact on the world–especially in the West–it needs to understand its own unique spiritual heritage, one that is different from Reformed and Lutheran churches in more ways than just liturgically.  Some ways it could do this are as follows:

  1. Anglicanism needs to stop seeing itself as simply Reformed Christianity with a liturgy but as a serious attempt to return to the ante-Nicene church.  That would put its view of how people go to heaven in a more pre-Augustinian light.
  2. Anglicans need to understand sanctification and personal holiness as a dynamic process in the life of the Christian, one that motivates the believer to do and live as God expects him or her to do.  Episcopalians have for too long associated their church with its aesthetic appeal rather than on expectations of service and morality that God has on the believer.  On the other hand, many of Wesley’s heirs have come to see that the "sinless perfection" that is part of classical Wesleyanism is not a realistic objective in this life, which would eliminate one barrier that has been in place for many years.
  3. Evangelical Anglicanism would do itself many favours by weaning itself from infant baptism.  Adult (and that can be interpreted broadly), believers’ baptism is a statement that life with Christ starts with a decision, something that has no place in an Augustinian context.  A conscious decision–even one that requires the moving of God to validate–is a necessity in a world with so many distractions and detours.  The wording of the Articles is interesting on this point: "The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ." (Article XXVII)

The issue of sanctification, however, begs discussion of the next step.  That step–the baptism in the Holy Spirit–in Anglicanism has been the province of the Charismatics, and we will discuss them in a subsequent post.

Just for Procreation: It Wasn’t Our Idea to Start With

We cannot resist saying something about Washington state’s "Defence of Marriage Alliance" and their petition to require hetrosexual couples to have children within three years after marriage or be subject to annulment.

To start with, we never based our opposition to gay marriage solely on the ability of heterosexual couples to procreate.  Our idea of what marriage is for is best expressed by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

Second, we have always contended that gay marriage represents a betrayal of basic liberal view of sexuality, thus it represents a sellout on the part of the homosexual community.

Third, we do not believe that marriage is primarily an act of the state, but an institution of God.  That being the case, we would rather see it taken out of the state’s hands (one way or the other) rather than seeing the state redefine it for the convenience of an upscale minority or anyone else for that matter.

They Didn’t Like Cole Porter’s Jazz and Negroes Either

The recent story about the woes that Christliche Gemeinde Köln has had with the German government brings up a lot deeper memories than just of a Christian church under persecution of a godless government (although this certainly is a problem here.)

It is worth noting that modernity–the thing that comes before post-modernity everybody talks about today–was born in Germany in the years between unification and the First World War.  It pushed Christianity out of the way not so much by attacking it but making it look irrelevant to the excitement of the changing times.  In the end the destabilising effect that it had on Germany resulted in two world wars.  It also resulted in many of the characteristics of our culture today, especially the culture of death.

Part of that modernity is primitivism.  Inscribed above the Reichstag (where the German Bundestag meets today after reunification) is the phrase, "DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE"–the German People.  That ineffable quantity–with all of the implications of racial purity and a heroic past–fuelled the Germans through those world wars, especially the second one.  Now one can argue that the modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is God’s answer to primitivism.  While "civilised" Christianity got rolled in places such as Germany, France and the UK, full gospel Christianity has swept the world, as TEC is finding out the hard way.

Having invoked primitivistic imagery in places like Nurenberg, the Germans are doubtless sensitive to the possibilities of primitivism.  But they first need to cut the knee-jerk reactions like this and take a more sensible look at things.

To start with, it’s one thing to exercise exuberance in a church setting and quite another on the battlefield.  It’s the same problem we have with people who equate "fundamentalist" Christianity with Islam.  There’s a difference between being prepared to die for what one believes in and to kill for it.  Germany today, like all of Europe, needs some fuel of some kind to present a counter to Islamicists, but beating down people like in this church isn’t going to do it.

But beyond this is pride of authorship.  Europeans may blush at their own forays into primitivism but importing them from the U.S. is beyond the pale.  It’s the same as it was in the 1920’s, after World War I had shattered European civilisation, probably beyond repair.  Sergei Diaghilev, who created the Ballets Russes with their own modern primitivism, shuddered at the thought of "Cole Porter because of his jazz and his Negroes…It’s dreadful."  We strongly suspect that, if the pastor of this church wasn’t American, they wouldn’t be in the kind of trouble they are.

The Germans need to realise that those who dance in church didn’t either start a world war or bring down the World Trade Centre.  But they just might derail those that did.

At the Inlet: June, Part 1 (A heartbreaking letter)

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It began as it had before, by the lake in Barlin, only now it was June, and felt like it.  It was still morning, though, so it was neither so hot as to bring things to a standstill nor yet raining as was so typical in the afternoon.

Once again, though, it was time for Drahla’s Royal Counsellor, Terry Marlowe, to make her way from her small house towards the palace on the opposite end of the lake.  She gingerly made her way down the road, a road with the occasional puddle of water in the low spots, just as she had just three months earlier when she had her fateful rendezvous with Serelia’s prince.  This time, though, she was not headed for the Royal Pavilion, but the palace itself.  After the usual stopping and greeting people on the way, she did not enter the throne room, but went into another entrance that took her down a hallway and into King Henry’s study.  She stopped at the threshold; the King was seated at his desk, and turned around to recognise her.

“You wished to see me, Your Majesty?” she formally asked after bowing.

“I did—please come in and have a seat,” Henry replied.  She did as he asked.

“Did you meeting yesterday go well with the delegation?” she asked.

“That’s what I wanted to see you about,” Henry said.  He had a gravity to his voice that, although characteristic, did not put his Counsellor at ease.  “As you know, ever since the cease fire, the question of our form of government, and the distribution of powers amongst ourselves, has been a paramount question.  The coastal cities—Fort Albert, Drago, and Cresca—initiated the process that brought this nation into existence with the purpose of preserving and expanding the rights and privileges granted to them under the charters they first received from the King of Beran—whose descendant has become so dear to you—and which were reaffirmed by King Albert, but compromised by his son.

“At the time we declared our independence, the question of how to preserve those rights under a new order was already under discussion, one which your late husband Max Serlin was very much a part of.  Unfortunately, we had a war to fight, and had to put such matters aside.  After the cease-fire, we dillied another three years with the Serelians, which put the matter off further, although we were able to start the rebuilding process.  Now that our independence is recognised by everyone—and we have eliminated our most vehement opponent, Verecunda—these questions have once again come to the front of our agenda.

“The delegation from the coastal cities came with more than just an idea—they made several demands, and were very emphatic about them.

“First, they wanted a five member executive council, similar to the Alemaran one.  They envision one delegate from each of them, one from here in Barlin and one from the northwest.  They want to elect a provisional council sometime this month, before the hurricane season gets into full swing.

“Second, they want this council to begin work on a constitution for Drahla which would vest the main power in this council or some other form of parliament.  They also want this constitution to delineate the powers that I have as King, and would also settle the question of whether we will have a unitary government or a federal system.  Personally, I always thought your late husband’s support of the former was wise, but they are always suspicious of a strong central government, even when they think they can dominate it.

“Third—and this caused me the most grief—they demanded that the office of Royal Counsellor be abolished immediately.  They felt that this has been the equivalent of our Prime Minister. To retain this office would, in their opinion, dilute the transparency of our new government and create confusion amongst our people here and the other nations of the Island.

“I attempted to propose a title change or something, but they were adamant that the office be abolished without further reassignment or change.  So I agreed to their demand.

“And so, it is regret that I inform you that your office has been abolished and, in this capacity, your services are no longer required.”

Terry’s own countenance had grown heavier as his speech had progressed.  When he was finished, there was a silence, and then she asked, “Is that all you wished to speak with me about, Your Majesty?”

“I just wanted to say,” Henry added, “how grateful I am for your years of loyal service to me, to the royal family, and to your country, because this country would probably not exist were it not for your efforts and those of your late husband.”

Terry rose and said, “Thank you, Your Majesty,” and walked out of his study.

As she walked down the hallway leading to the outside, the full impact of what she had just been told began to sink in.  She stopped as the grief began to overwhelm her; as her tears started to come out she staggered to the wall, then slid down it and slumped to the floor as tears turned to sobbing that could be heard all over the palace.

It seemed like an eternity that she was in this state. Finally she was able to pull herself together enough to get up again and resume her exit from the building.  The sun was blinding as she emerged from the relatively dark palace; she tried to put on a more normal countenance and make the walk back around the lake to her house.  She didn’t get very far, though, when she heard a voice from her right.

“Your Excellency,” the voice asked.  She turned to see it was the aide to the Serelian ambassador.

“Yes?”

The aide came up to her, holding out a letter.  “This came in the diplomatic pouch,” he said.  “It’s from Her Highness.”

“Thank you very much,” Terry replied, taking the letter.  She continued back, finally arriving to walk up the steps and, opening the door, entered her screened in front porch.  She sat down, still not really over the shock of her own sudden dismissal, and opened the letter to read it.  She knew the aide was right; it was in that beautiful handwriting that could only come from one person:

Dearest Terry,

Thanks so much for your letter, and taking the time to answer all of these Bible questions which I had.  You are so patient and knowledgeable—you will never know how much it means to me to be able to turn to you for answers.

My pregnancy is going well.  The doctor is pleased with my progress.  It is my family tradition for the women to suffer through a lot of sickness while pregnant—evidently bearing the children of Beran is a big job—but in my case the thing that bothers me the most is my size.  I feel like a whale!  Sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep, I go out on the beach or the Sea Garden and look up at the stars and feel God’s presence and strength reaching down into my innermost being and to my little one, and I know that strength is borne on your prayers for me.  The prayer you led me through on the yacht coming back from Verecunda has changed everything.  I know that I too can hold the hands of Jesus Christ and trust Him for everything.  He has been there through all of this.

George spends a lot of time with his father on matters of state.  I think they’ve finally realised that they need each other; that too came out of our trip.  They’ve asked me to work on applications for royal charters and their amendments—I’ve tried to get started but the King has had other plans for me.  Summer Court is starting this Saturday so that will put it off even more and make the stack higher.  I wish I could get some help in sorting things out but it will have to wait for now.

I am still struggling with the Bible.  What I see is real but I can’t figure everything out.  Some of the notes you put in there are good—I guess you miss them now for your sermons—but there is so much to understand.  I’ve had a session or two with the Canon but he’s no help at all—all he goes on about is textual criticism and why it can’t be the way it’s written even when I sometimes feel that living in Serelia is like walking through its pages.

I wish you could be here with me to help me with this.  I know your schedule is busy—we’ve heard all kinds of rumours about your politics there, to say nothing about romances—and I know you’re supposed to teach at your Bible school again this year, but I would love you to come for a couple of weeks at least to help me.  I know it’s asking a lot but please—please—try to find time to get away for this.

Well I must go now.  I cherish our friendship.  May God be with you and give my love especially to Dennis and Andrea.

Love,

Darlene

Terry was about to enter another tearful session when she heard a voice from the street.  “Can I come in?”  She looked up to see Prince William standing in from of her house.

“Come on in,” Terry responded, rising to meet him.  He came in, slowing the screen door’s closing as he entered, and sat down in the chair on the other side of the porch.  They sat and looked at each other in silence for a moment.

“Father told Dennis and me about you after we heard you crying,” William said.  “We were in shock.”

“He hadn’t told you?”

“He had a private audience yesterday with this delegation from the coasts that lasted about three hours.  He wouldn’t tell us anything about it.  I guess he know we would be angry about it.  They must have worked him over pretty bad.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s given away the kingdom.”

“It had to happen sooner or later,” Terry sighed.  “I tried to put it off as long as I could—growing up in Verecunda soured me on democracy.  I guess that’s why I ended up in their crosshairs.”

“They’re just trying to weaken us,” William replied.  “They knew your high standing with the King.  They felt you stood in their way.  That’s why they went for you.  Of course, you could run for this new council, either here or in the northwest, where Max’s family would help you…”

“I’m not interested in running for anything.  All I’ve ever wanted to do is serve my Kings, both the one here and the one in heaven.”

“Well they can’t stop you from serving the latter,” William observed.  Terry stopped and looked at the prince in astonishment.

“I’ve never heard you talk like that before.”

“That’s one of things I came by to tell you about,” William said seriously.  “I met with Pastor Calloway early this morning.  He led me in the sinner’s prayer and I gave my life to Christ.”

“Praise God,” Terry breathed in astonishment.  “I knew something was going on.”

“You know, I used to think that Christians were a bunch of wimps.  The war didn’t change my mind either.  After the trip, and meeting Cathy, and hearing about the change in her life, and hearing this entire rumbling that exploded yesterday, I realised what you and Dennis and Andrea knew all along—that I wasn’t going to make it without God.  Sorry I took so long.”

“Just as long as you made it,” Terry said.

“But that’s not all.  One reason we didn’t discuss Father’s meeting last night is because I presented Cathy to the family.  She’s going to become my wife.  I told her not to tell you until I had a chance to explain everything.”

“Congratulations.  We’ve been talking about that too.  She’s had a lot of transitions to make.  I’ve tried to make them easier for her.”

“You’ve been a big help—especially in keeping it quiet.  But now you have a wedding to perform—in addition to a baptism, I suppose.”

“I’m honoured on both counts.  How are the children taking this?”

“Since she’s from Verecunda, and has lived the life she has, they’re not sure if they’re getting a new parent or a big sister.  They think she’s cool, although she doesn’t let them get ahead of her.”

“Our youth pastor has noted that,” Terry observed.  “He wants her to take a bigger role with the youth group.”

“But really, they need a mother, especially Prissy, as they enter their teen years.  Losing their mom during the war has been hard on them.”

“Will Cathy continue at the Central Bank?”

“That was the one positive thing my father managed to beat out of this delegation,” William said.  “She’s to become the Managing Director of the Bank.  That was before our engagement was official.”

“They’ll live to regret that—perhaps it’s God’s will to trade her for me.  She’s forgotten more about finance than anyone in that delegation ever knew, and besides she’s had to deal with all of those snotty Verecundan bureaucrats…I guess the “New Beran Initiative” is in limbo, at least here.”

“A ‘New Beran’ is the last thing our friends on the coast want,” William noted.  “My brother was afraid of that when he entered in to it with Princes George and Peter and the girls.  But you have to hand it to them—it’s a great idea.”

“Speaking of Peter and Julia, have you heard anything lately about those lovebirds?  I’ve been so busy catching up on the King’s ‘busywork’ and discipling Cathy that I’ve even neglected foreign affairs.”

“I got to spend some time earlier this week with the Aloxan ambassador to Alemara,” William answered.  “I finally got the full story on all these rumours we’ve been hearing here.

“While they were on their honeymoon, their realities started to sink in to the royal family about them, and some of them raised a stink about it, especially those who are pagan or secular.  This infuriated King Leslie and Queen Arlene, who consider it Peter’s sovereign right to bring home the wife of his choice, subject to their approval.  Leslie realised, however, that he was kicking against the goads on this one, particularly since he had enough troubles in Verecunda and Uranus.  So he arranged for Peter and Julia to be waylaid at Snapper Beach, and arranged for them to stay in Uranus to help Prince Marc by acting as the High Commissioners for Land Restoration—they’ve opted for the same programme as the Collinans.  His outgoing personality, combined with her reputation for fairness and the fact that she is Uranan, have made them a hit.  In the middle of it all, Peter has become a Christian—Julia’s brother baptised him a couple of weeks ago.

“They’ve done a lot to turn the Aloxan occupation there around, so much so that they’re scheduling a referendum in North Verecunda and around the airport to see if they’d rather be in Uranus.  That means that, if they end up cutting Verecunda loose, they’ll have the place surrounded.”

“So I assume they’re still having problems in Verecunda.” Terry said.

“Many.  Prince Desmond has survived three assassination attempts.  The CPL is active and causing him no end of trouble.  He’s had a couple of the old cabinet members shot—your cousin Patty would have been one of them if she weren’t related to you.  Now Verecunda’s creditors are coming to his door wanting their money, while at the same time many of the people whose property was nationalised want it back.  Until he figures out how to balance all of this, he can’t start a land restoration programme.”

“I think my cousins Ken and Jack—Ernie’s sons—are leading the pack on that one.  Andy Dell wants me to come down and help sort that mess out, but up until now I haven’t been able to come.  Now Darlene wants me to come to Serelia and disciple her.”

“I was going to ask what you were going to do with yourself now that you’re not Royal Counsellor anymore, but I guess that’s the least of your problems.”

Making a Dangerous Assumption

Dick Morris informs us of the following:

“Hillary will be the next president, and she’ll be the worst president we’ve ever seen.” No matter what happens, the situation in Iraq will “assure that the GOP gets massacred in 2008 congressional elections.” In 2010, the Republicans will take back the Congress — “Hillary will give Republicans the same gift she gave them in 1994” — and they’ll win the presidency in 2012, but thanks to demographic shifts favoring Democrats (namely the rising Hispanic and African-American populations), “that will be the last Republican president we’ll ever see.”

That assumes, of course, that we have elections in 2010 and 2012 under Clinton II.

Anglo-Catholicism and the Role of the Church

As the orthodox Anglican alternatives to the TEC grow in strength, it has become pretty clear that the #1 division–in addition to the proliferation of purple shirts–that looms is the Anglo/Catholic vs. Evangelical divide.  A little history needs to be told to put this in perspective.

When Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, the control of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales passed from the Pope to the Crown.  As long as Henry VIII was alive, that was the biggest change (other than the dissolution of the monasteries) that took place.  It was under Edward VI that the move towards a more "Protestant" church began and, following the last attempt to reverse the Act under Mary, was completed by Elizabeth I.  (There’s that female headship again!)

As we documented in Taming the Rowdies, the question for the next century and a half was just how Protestant the church would be.  After the unpleasant adventure that was Oliver Cromwell, the country decided that it had had enough of such questions and the Church of England slept through most of the eighteenth century, shaken only by Wesley and his friends who were taking Protestant Christianity away from its Augustinian obsession and into a new era of revival.

The nineteenth century saw things go in two different directions.

The first was towards Evangelicalism, with laymen such as Wilberforce and prelates such as J.C. Ryle.  Under these the Church of England was seen as a church with an outreach to lost souls, along with social action such as the abolition of slavery.  In many ways the Global South provinces were born in this movement, which explains why many of them tend towards the "Protestant" side of Anglicanism.

The second was the Oxford Movement, with men such as Newman and Manning.  The appeal of this was a combination of aesthetic (a strong component in the TEC’s growth after World War II and its ability to hold on as well as it has) and a desire for unity.  One of the great weaknesses of Anglicanism is that its status as a creature of the English monarchy has pretty much restricted it to the Anglophone world, which has limited it culturally and spiritually.  Reaching across the English Channel broadens this, but most of its leaders were forced to "swim the Tiber" as many Anglo-Catholics have since.

Both of these streams have flowed into the Anglican/Episcopal river ever since.  Liberalism is a rude interruption in this "discussion" (a favourite liberal term) but without the liberals resolving this question becomes more earnest.

The strongest argument for Anglo-Catholicism is that the objective is to repair the breach caused by the Act of Supremacy and contribute towards the reuniting of the church.  But we need to answer one crucial question: what kind of church are we moving towards?

Anglo-Catholics will point out that they are simply moving from one liturgical church to another.  They will also point out that many distinctively "Catholic" practices such as devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary and of course the transubstantiated Eucharist (the "sacred pledge," as Bossuet put it) have long roots in Christian practice.  What they will not point out is that Roman Catholicism’s concept of the church changes the entire nature of Christianity.

As we saw in We May Not Be a Church After All, Roman Catholicism makes two key claims.  The first is that it is the true church.  The second is that it, as the church, it is a formal intermediary between man and God.  To go to heaven, therefore, one must not only have a relationship with the Saviour, but with the only church he allegedly founded.  Although Roman Catholic teaching allows for ignorance to factor into whether a person outside of the Catholic church is barred from eternal life, basically the church teaches that, if a person has any reason to believe that the Roman Catholic church is the true church, it will cost them their eternity if they do not join it.

This has several important implications that need to be understood.

The first is that the church can basically decide who enters into eternal life and who doesn’t.  Fortunately the Catholic church has a great deal of canon law which restricts the ability of its priests and bishops to excercise that authority, but the basic power remains.

The second is that, just as the church can define the eternal destiny of its adherents, it can also redefine the means by which they get there.  Anglo-Catholics point with pride with the conservative direction the Vatican has taken since 1978, but, like the Cold War, it could have gone another way.  (Another example of Boomer triumphalism that needs to be muted!)

The third is that the strength of the Roman Catholic liturgy depends upon the strength of the church, and not the other way around.  In Anglo-Catholic and Orthodox settings, the "smells and bells" and correct performance of the liturgy are central to projecting the strength of the church, which is why changes in same are a real disaster.  Roman Catholic Mass can be a very breezy, informal (and rushed) production, complete with rotten music, but the "sacred mystery" is the same as it would be at the Vatican because the church said it was so.

We find it hard to believe that most Anglo-Catholics would seriously consider union with Rome under these conditions.  It would have certainly sidetracked my own "swim of the Tiber" many years ago if I had fully grasped it, but then again Catholicism under Paul VI was a "wild West" kind of affair; that has certainly changed in the intervening years.

So this is something that Anglo-Catholics needs to consider.  It is a topic we have reviewed before.  But the Evangelicals have issues of their own, and we will discuss these in a future post.

Nothing New Under the Sun: A Look at Current Events From the Past

There’s a good deal going on these days, and we’re tempted to comment on a lot of it.  Problem is, we already have in many cases.  So, just to make sure you know we haven’t fallen asleep at the switch–or for those who didn’t read it the first time–our idea is as follows:

  • Barack Obama’s running agony with his racial identity would be a lot easier on him and the rest of us if identity politics could be pulled off of the stage of post-modern politics, as we envisioned in The Best Seat on the Bus.
  • The secularists’ agressive stance is a front for their present state of panic (Circling the Wagons Around Evolution)
  • The Libby trial is a farce (Scooting on Down the Road)
  • All of the hot air about global warming (the CO2 we put out when we talk) is just that without a solution, but no one has the nerve to go through with it, although the conservatives are at least waking up to the fact that we need to stop funding Islamicists by our oil dependency (The Obvious Solution)
  • Hillary Clinton’s campaign is the most serious problem we’re facing right at the monent for reasons few are talking about (Finishing the Job: A Watergate Reflection)
  • The chief objective of all of the radical leaders in the Middle East–both Sunni (bin Laden) and Shi’ite (Ahmadinejad) is to take the oil wealth and Islamic seat that is Saudi Arabia (They’d Rather Take Riyadh, Osama’s Real Objective).  And the best way to fix the problem is to keep them at each other’s throats.
  • The Roman Catholic church in the UK (and the CofE as well) are finding out that It’s Not About Freedom Any More, especially when the homosexuals are involved, in the whole row over gay adoptions.
  • We predicted in A Punch in the Face for Capitalism that more and more American capital would flow into private corporations rather than risk the liabilities imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley law.  Although this is doubtless going on, the greater reality is actually worse: capital for new ventures is moving to London and Hong Kong, weakening New York’s status as the financial centre of the world.  This has induced panic in left wingers by Chuck Schumer, but they should have thought of this before they passed such legislation.  This trend may be the greatest threat to the status of the U.S. as the world’s superpower that is out there, at least in the short term.