Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Would Not, Could Not, in a Church

Theodor Seuss Geisel was, I am told, a lifelong member of a LCMS parish in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This, of course, was perpetrated in an Anglican parish.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Interesting Thing About Religion

Matt Gunter has posted a letter from Evelyn Underhill to Cosmo Lang (then Archbishop of Canterbury) on the subject of the purpose of religion and the need for "greater interiority and cultivation of the personal life of prayer" in the church's clergy. It is a message that is ever more pertinent in today's Episcopal Church, where it seems that matters of public policy come first, and where matters of theology are purely discretionary. There is no hope for the increase of the gospel where its ministers are not interested in what it tells us about God, and where its ministers are not in converse with that God. A priest without a regular rule of prayer is spiritually malnourished, and cannot properly feed his charges; a priest who is not conversant with the theology which is handed down from the fathers, and who does not walk in the path which they have written for her, cannot properly bring her people into the same knowledge. There is nothing wrong with preaching for action, but it is not all there is to preaching, and people can be inspired to action elsewhere. But it is only in the church that people can be brought to know Christ and to live in him, and to do that, those people much be led into religion, that is, the right relationship with the divine.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Symbolo Fidei

Derek Olsen has pointed to a post by Bosco Peters arguing against the use of the Creed in liturgy. Olsen objects, and so do I. My principle reason is essentially along the lines of one of the responses:
Third, I used to be in a parish that omitted the recitation of the Nicene Creed contrary to the American rubrics. One motivation might have been the publicly expressed doubts of some of the clergy and staff in what was proclaimed there. At some point, they also started to celebrate the Eucharist with prayers of their own creation that better expressed their faith in Christ. These prayers certainly had new energy, but they were a way of working out clerical doubts, not a way of better edifying the gathered community.
I notice, for instance, that Fr. Peters's "liturgical affirmation" edits away one of the points which most commonly gives rise to reservations: the doctrine of the Virgin Birth. Presumably other parishes would dispense with God the Father or with anything suggesting the physical actuality of Jesus' resurrection. The situation is worse than just "there are an awful lot of Christians [...] who do not grasp the basics of the Faith;" there are a lot of clerics who lack that grasp, or who have turned away from the catholic doctrines.

For the creed is the central symbol of our catholicity; it represents what binds into the faithful across the ages who were and are and will be linked into common worship within the Christian faith. It is the answer to the question, "why do we come here?" The anaphora answers a different question: "what worship did Jesus command?" It tells what to do, of a Sunday, but it is the Creed that explains why we bother to do what Jesus commands. Therefore one is not redundant to the other; I think it is also of some importance that the anaphora is prayed on our behalf, but the Creed is recited by all. It is a spiritual comfort to me, and a powerful affirmation of faithful unity, to think that all over the world, worshippers turn to the altar and repeat the basic principles of the faith, what we all believe.

I am glad to hear that Fr. Peters preaches on the creed; so do I, and so have most priests I have had as rectors; and all priests should do likewise. But I do not see this teaching as a substitute for saying it; it is necessary insurance that those who say it understand what they say. (An earlier version of this could be read as implying that Fr. Peters's own beliefs might be unorthodox. I regret this implication and have tried to remove it.)