Friday, September 30, 2011


The Anglican Church in America (ACA) House of Clergy, meeting at Our Lady of the Snows, have urged their Archbishop John Hepworth to resign as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, saying that his attempt to take his flock to Rome makes it impossible for him to continue as their leader.

'It is increasingly obvious to us and those for whom we are pastorally responsible that recent developments have made it impossible for you to continue to function effectively as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, and that the responsibilities of that office add immeasurably to the personal stress inevitable in your personal situation.'...

I remember a movie in which children in a French school had to make due with a city block, having no gymnasium or schoolyard. In the scene, the Physical Education teacher is leading the boys on a run around the city block, himself in the lead. Bit by bit, in small groups, the boys break off and leave to play hooky while the teacher, running ever forward without a backwards glance, ends up with exactly two of the original class of more than twenty. I thought, "that's Archbishop Hepworth leading his people to Rome." 

It was 2008. As of yet there was no Anglicanorum Coetibus. But, I could see that Abp. Hepworth forgot to see if anyone was following him when he made his bold announcements that he would lead "400,000 Traditional Anglicans" into the Church. First of all, the TAC never promised to follow him to Rome. Second, there was never anything even close to 400,000 people in the TAC (never more than about 50,000 at its height). Third, Anglicans have never called the Roman Catholic Church the Church, nor even the Catholic Church. To us, it is a branch of the Catholic Church, and not wholly free from error. It is part of the Church, and we love its people and share much of the same doctrine. But, we also have theological differences.

Hepworth and the few who zealously followed him wanted to ignore those theological issues, with the same careless and unprincipled ecumenism that leads, ultimately, to nothing substantive (like the Charismatic version of Ecumenism in the 1970s). They depended on ignorance among all their followers, which is never a safe bet. Then, when Rome insulted every convinced Anglican with Anglicanorum Coetibus, Hepworth and his Tiber swimmer squad depended on gullibility and uninformed credulity on the part of the whole TAC. 

It is notable that the ACA House of Bishops has agreed with my earlier analysis about Hepworth's psychological problems. They wrote to him in their statement, 

"There is an urgent need for focused leadership of the TAC at this critical time in the life of the church. For the good of the church and your family, as well as for your own emotional, physical, and spiritual health, we prayerfully urge you to consider submitting your resignation as Primate forthwith."

I had said, "All this time the Roaming Romeward emphasis, in what people joined and contributed to as an Anglican church, was really about one man and his personal trauma." Some of his defenders screamed bloody murder, calling me by "the usual suspects" list of names. Nonetheless, the truth is obvious to the men who bear responsibility for souls under their pastoral care as bishops. The good thing is, they are doing their duty.

Let us hope, with this Roaming Romeward effort to convert them out of the way, the TAC will be a full partner in unifying the Continuing Anglicans back into one big family.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fr Wells' Bulletin Insert


In 1 Peter 1:12 we find a fascinating reference to the theme of today's feast: “which things the angels desire to look into.” The inspired apostle was expounding the glory of the gospel, revealed only in a limited degree to the prophets of the Old Testament, of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” His point: those who know Christ are privileged to an amazing degree, surpassing those who came before Christ and even surpassing the angels themselves. Peter strongly suggests that (hold your breath!) it is better to be a Christian than to be an angel!

C. S. Lewis devoted an entire novel to this theme, in his delightful work _Out of the Silent Planet._ I hope you will read it. Why? Because angels are sinless. On every other saint's day, we can develop an entire sermon on the template “Every saint is a redeemed sinner, and whereas St. ---- was once a sinner, you too may be a saint.” But that sermon does not work today, as angels are sinless. They do not need a Saviour and will never experience the joy of salvation. They are bound to be curious and amazed at what God has done for our rescue and rehabilitation.

The story of Michael in combat with a huge throng of rebellious angels is the first reading today. Although the Biblical text itself seems to leave this account in unspecified time, a strong Christian tradition views this as taking place before creation. But the intriguing and unanswered question in this passage is what prompted the rebellion of the angels who followed the mysterious dragon. What started this mutiny of some (not all) angels against their Creator?

We have no clear Biblical answer. But an ancient Christian insight speculates that the angels had heard a rumor in heaven that God would shortly create another, lower, material being, that He would love this human race enough to redeem it from sin, that He would even become flesh Himself, and even die on the cross for our salvation.

Certain angels felt this was beneath God's dignity. God, they believed, should not stoop so low for a worthless and undeserving creature. So they rebelled and began a war in heaven. But, thanks be to God, they “prevailed not.”

Why is it better to be a Christian than an angel? Because Christians have been blessed with a far greater measure of God's love. Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, has loved us enough to die for us. How can the angels not be amazed?

Isaac Watts wrote well, in a hymn I wish our Hymnal contained:
"Worthy the Lamb that died," they cry,
"to be exalted thus;"
"Worthy the Lamb," our lips reply,
"For He has died for us."

The angels who remained holy and obedient now join with us in adoration of the Lamb who was slain, not for them, but for us. “Therefore with angels, and archangels, and with all the company of heaven....”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Has it ever dawned on you that the words "idiot" and "ideologue" sound like they share a common root? On a serious level, ideology is the curse of the modern world. From the French Revolution to this very day, a lot of blood has been shed by people who wanted to make the world perfect. The Communists wanted to save the world by Marxist economic theory, murdering countless millions in the failed effort. Hitler and his Nazis wanted to perfect mankind and bring the human race to the next stage of evolution, following the activist version of Darwinism as postulated by an American, Margaret Sanger. Muslim radicals and terrorists want to make Sharia the law in every land. All of these are ideologies. All are intended to make the world perfect. And, they all produce hell on earth. 

Ideology is obsession with method. A true ideologue cannot see if his favored method is a success or a complete failure. For example (not to argue the point right now, but simply taking an example where method needs no explanation), Gun Control advocates need to look at the empirical data that comes in from every place that their methodology has actually become law. If the goal is to lower the level of violent crime, they need to study what the many experiments have proved. If, however, the method is all that matters, then the results are irrelevant to them. In general, ideologues are obsessed with method, be they "liberal" or "conservative." 

In modern America people tend to identify the two major parties in those terms. They generally think of Republicans as conservative, and Democrats as liberal, though never to anyone's actual satisfaction. If so, they have made these ideas into products between two competing firms, very much like the competition between Coca Cola and Pepsi. Frankly, I cannot tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. 

This brings me to a request I am making of fellow clergy, with an American election year coming up. Please, resist the urge to publicly mix and blend your sacred vocation with a party line. All of the sincere people who enlist their services in the cause of any party or ideology will, eventually, find themselves defending things that are morally reprehensible, and living with an unacceptable conflict in their own consciences. That is no way to try to take up your cross and follow the Son of Man. If, on issues, we find ourselves co-belligerent with any party or individual politician, let us keep it all balanced with an ability to separate issues. Our voice must be that of the prophets, not of the campaign. 

The whole world, says St. John, lies in the lap of the evil one. St. James bids us keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Speak in the causes that are consistent with the moral heritage that comes from God's revelation, all of it. If you speak in partisan and ideological causes, you will have to pick and choose your way, neglecting some weighty matters of the Law of God.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

The Epistle. Gal. v. 16-24  *  The Gospel. St. Luke xvii. 11-19

Never has there been anyone with a more profound insight into psychology than Saint Paul. He knew the true human condition far better than modern theorists such as Freud and Jung. Saint Paul could speak of the dichotomy between what we are in our imperfect, fallen, and mortal weakness and the hope of what we can be through the Holy Spirit. He knew that the true dilemma of mankind is essentially a moral conflict. We know what we ought to be, and we know what we are. In writing to the Galatians he contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit, and in so doing teaches us what we need to know about ourselves.

And, as always, he leaves us with a certainty that everything depends upon the grace of God in Jesus Christ. If we want to rise above the works of the flesh we have to walk in the Spirit. Therefore, to attain godly character we need the Holy Spirit. To live a life with these virtues that he calls “the fruit of the Spirit” we must recognize that we need the grace of God, that we depend upon the Holy Spirit working within us. We are thus humbled by his words, given genuine hope, but hope that it is not from our own strength, about virtue for which we cannot take the credit. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us, which means that we ought to be grateful rather than proud.

This takes us straight to the lepers in today’s Gospel. Upon finding themselves clean from their disease of rotting flesh, nine of the men who were healed simply went away somewhere, but one came back to give thanks. Furthermore, the one who came back was a Samaritan, a stranger. What the Lord had told the men to do was from the Law of Moses: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” Perhaps the nine believed that they were being rewarded for obeying this commandment from the Law, namely the portion from Leviticus about the laws of leprosy. If so, maybe they reasoned that they had managed to earn their healing. Not so the Samaritan, who exhibited humility by his gratitude. These two qualities of humility and gratitude caused him to understand that his healing was all a matter of grace, even if he was fulfilling a specific commandment by doing as the Lord instructed. After all, to obey a specific commandment of God earns us nothing, since we are only doing what is our duty as unprofitable servants. The Samaritan who was cleansed of his leprosy understood that he had been granted a miracle beyond his deserving, in fact a miracle that no one could have earned.

When we find that we have managed to act in charity, to have obeyed God’s commandments against our own sinful desires, to have avoided the occasion of sin, to have done good to those in need, or whatever other virtuous thing and good work we may have done, let us not lose sight of the truth. The fact remains that we are sinners nonetheless. So, do we wander off like the nine, or return to Christ with gratitude? No one deserves a miracle, and no one earns eternal life. When we perceive the grace of God at work within us, just as these men were aware that their leprosy was cleansed away, do we imagine, as C.S. Lewis once put it, a halo around our own silly heads, or do we have the humility to be grateful, to give thanks for the grace of God in our own lives?

This is what connects today’s Gospel and Epistle. The virtues are the fruit of the Holy Spirit Who has shed abroad the love of God within our hearts (Rom. 5:5). We may like to believe we could have done it in our own strength. But, let us have the humility to thank God for healing us from our state of walking death, like these lepers, and giving us life by the resurrection of Jesus Christ his Son.

The truth about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit is that we live in a constant tension between them. On any given day, we find both of these presenting themselves and forcing us to make choices. People think of the “flesh” only in terms of sexual sin. But, if we look at these “works of the flesh” that the Apostle has listed, we find among them sins that have a “spiritual” quality- like occultism and heresies. We find among them sins in how we relate to other people, sins of anger or gossip. We even see political sins. The nature we have, as created by God, is not inherently sinful; rather it was rendered inherently weak, fallen from grace; and therefore it tends to sin because it is captive to death. How fitting leprosy is as an image of this condition. What St. Paul calls “the flesh,” in this passage, lacks is the ability to rise above sin, and to rise to a level of perfect goodness. It is the limits of a nature fallen, in many ways limited to concerns about survival and gratification. It cannot rise to the level of God’s righteousness by its own power.

Too many people misunderstand the idea of grace. They confuse it with mercy. It is favor, certainly; but, it is unmerited as a consequence of the Fall into sin and death. However, even the picture of Adam before the Fall is the picture of a creature who lived by grace (that is, his very life was a gift), and who depended upon grace. He was created by a gracious act; he lived by God’s gracious will, and when he fell into sin he was barred from partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, that is, barred from remaining in the grace of God as an immortal and eternal being. For grace and gift are translated from the same word in the Greek New Testament, Charisma. Adam’s life was a gift, that is, it was grace. And so, the Fall brought death: “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”

Pelagius was a heretic from Britain who lived in the fourth century. He taught that we have the power within ourselves to be perfectly holy without God’s grace. In a way he revived the oldest heresy about which we read in the Book of Acts, the doctrine of those converts from the Pharisee party who said that unless the Gentiles became circumcised and fulfilled the Law of Moses they could not be saved. Both the “Judaizers” (an unfortunate term, because it sounds anti-Semitic, though it is not meant to) of the first century, and Pelagius of the fourth century, taught that we can do it alone, that is, become perfect without God’s grace. Saint Paul (along with the other apostles, if we read the actual scriptural account) refuted the Judaizers, as later Saint Augustine refuted Pelagius. That is what the Epistle to the Galatians is about. We cannot be saved by our own efforts, and we cannot become holy by our own strength. The Law teaches us, but it does not make us into “good people.” We need the humility and gratitude that it takes to depend upon the Holy Spirit- and even that humility and that gratitude must come from Him. We don’t possess the power within ourselves to generate those. But God gives us everything good if only we will stop treating the Holy Spirit like a stranger.

What do we see in the cleansing of the lepers? Leprosy is a disease that gives us a picture of the way Saint Paul speaks of “flesh.” The skin is rotting as if the poor leper were dead already. Jesus cleansed the lepers, and their flesh was made as healthy as that of a newborn babe. In baptism Jesus gives us back our lives, made clean from original sin, and made new. In the sacrament of Absolution He gives us back our lives, cleansed yet again. In giving His Flesh for food and His Blood for drink He gives us the food and drink of eternal life, making Himself the tree of life from which our first parents were barred. In the sacrament of Confirmation by the laying on of the apostle’s hands, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit upon us and into us.

As we present ourselves to Jesus Christ, returning to give thanks, we enter into a new life marked by gratitude. And that gratitude is the mark of humility. And all of this is the evidence of God’s grace working within us. The Holy Spirit is a very active agent in our lives as we return to Jesus to render thanks, for in drawing close to Christ by living this whole sacramental life within His Church, and by feeding on His word within our hearts, we surrender to the Holy Spirit; and we cooperate with his grace. This is how the fruit of the Spirit grows. The Law cannot give us this, because we are weak through sin. But, in drawing close to Jesus Christ in gratitude, His Spirit makes to grow within us love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Against such there is no Law. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Science Fictions

Here is something I wish I had said.

“Science Fictions” first appeared in the September/October 2009issue of Touchstone. If you enjoyed this article, you'll find more of the same in every issue.

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Marilyn Prever on a Random Quantum Fluctuation
Most people really want to know where we came from. We have evidence. We no longer have to rely on stories we were told when we were young.—Alan H. Guth, Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics, MIT
Many modern physicists claim that things—perhaps even the entire universe—can indeed arise from nothing via natural processes.—Mark Vuletic, National Center for Science Education
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.—H. L. Mencken
So call me a fundamentalist. In my opinion, “a random quantum fluctuation” is not an adequate substitute for God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Not even if it’s followed by the mother of all explosions. I feel that it’s time somebody put a stop to this nonsense, but I don’t quite know what to do about it. The old radio comedy team Bob & Ray used to interrupt their program with bulletins from the Office of Fluctuation Control. That’s the kind of thing we need—someone with real authority, to get things under control.

If you think I’m just being silly, you’re not up on the latest speculations of astrophysics . . . or rather, of astrophysicists (keep that distinction in mind, please). One of the most popular candidates for a “natural process” that may account for “the entire universe” is a random quantum fluctuation, which has the advantage of being virtually nothing at all, and acting upon a new kind of nothingness, a vacuum that somehow has a structure. The idea is that nobody has to pipe up and ask, “But Professor, where did the quantum fluctuation come from?”

You don’t have to account for it, this nothing that can turn into a universe; it’s just there, like the cosmic ocean, or Yggdrasil the World Ash Tree, or whatever is already just there in those charming Babylonian-type creation myths—and very much unlike the unique simplicity of Genesis: “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.”

These same cosmologists have by the almighty power of their cleverness called into being, ad hoc and ex nihilo,an infinite (or at least respectably large) number of parallel universes whose sole purpose is to assure us earthlings that the heavens and the earth and all the host thereof were not “very good” but just fair to middlin’—a mediocre, unexceptional universe, given enough throws of the dice. How convenient: Presto chango, out the window go the Anthropic Principle and Fred Hoyle’s tornado-in-a-junkyard-producing-a-Boeing-707 challenge. What a relief! And you thought real science had to be falsifiable.

The Right Authorities
But who am I to make fun of scientists? What do I know? Am I an astrophysicist? Am I a mathematician? Shouldn’t we laymen practice some humility, and trust the experts who understand these things? Am I so ungrateful as not to appreciate what modern science has wrought, from medical advances to computers to the space program? You know how it is: You question a scientific theory and right away someone says, “Would you like to live in the Middle Ages? With no antibiotics? No anesthetics?” Q.E.D.

am grateful, not only for the antibiotics but for pure science, too—the sheer beauty of it, the truth for truth’s sake, or for the glory of God if you like. Only let the cobbler stick to his last. If a mathematician explains calculus to me, I will listen with respect and humility, but if he wants to repair my refrigerator, I will not hire him no matter how good a mathematician he is. And neither will I allow him to be my authority on the origin of Everything, or to explain why I should or should not get up in the morning, given a world where everyone eventually dies and rots.

For answers to these questions I consult different authorities, beginning with philosophers and theologians and going on to saints and mystics, poets and musicians—and not excluding “stories we were told when we were young.” There is knowledge and there is knowledge, and then there is wisdom, and not all of it leaves traces in cloud chambers.

When a scientist sneaks into somebody else’s area of expertise and pretends his findings have some special authority just because he’s a scientist, that’s not science but scientism. Scientism is bogus science; it’s somebody’s philosophical opinions masquerading as empirically proven facts.

Pure-Hearted & Humble
Einstein was a great theoretical physicist and mathematician, but he wasn’t much of a theologian, and he didn’t pretend to be, beyond his endearing habit of calling God “the Old One” and his conviction that God “doesn’t play dice” with creation. I recently heard a story about him; I can’t vouch for its authenticity but it sounds like him. A Jesuit priest found himself in the neighborhood where Dr. Einstein was working, and, with a “What can I lose?” attitude, he went in and asked the secretary if he could see the great scientist. He was persistent and she finally called upstairs to tell Einstein he had a visitor. “Who is it?” he asked. “A Catholic priest!” she said.

To everyone’s surprise, he said, “Send him up.” It turned out he had always been intellectually intrigued by the Catholic idea of transubstantiation, and he asked the priest whether he knew of a book he could read about it. The priest gave him a title and Einstein said he would get a copy and read it.

I don’t know if anything ever came of it, or even if it really happened, but I like the story because it illustrates something I very much hope is true: that the greatest scientists are not the kind of narrow-minded, self-important debunkers who spend more time in front of the camera than in their laboratories. The same childlike, self-forgetful quality that makes true scientists so curious about how the world works may overflow into wider realms. They’re teachable—which is another word for humble.

Science can be a pathway to God, if pursued with a pure heart and not out of lust for the Nobel Prize. Pierre and Marie Curie are a prime example of science practiced as a vocation. Devout Catholics, they refused to patent any of their discoveries because they wanted them used freely for the benefit of mankind. The widowed Marie struggled to provide for her children and at one point couldn’t afford the radium she needed for further research.

The Lowest Level
I admit I have no idea what a quantum fluctuation actually is, even after reading dozens of books and articles attempting to explain modern physics to non-scientists—but I do know reductionism when I see it. Reductionism is “nothing-but-ism,” as when you say love is nothing but lust, thought is nothing but electro-chemical brain reactions (except, of course, the reductionist’s own thoughts, which are magically exempt), a human being is nothing but an animal, and the paragraph I’m writing is nothing but a pattern of ink marks on paper. (Sorry to disillusion you if you had a romantic notion that it contained some dreamy metaphysical substance called “meaning.” You must be one of those religious fanatics.) In short, it’s taking a many-leveled reality and reducing it to the lowest level.

Reductionism is a common form of scientism: It’s a dogma disguised as science. Dogma is a fine thing in its proper place, which is revealed religion. Once you accept a statement as a revealed dogma, you don’t question it; you build on it. If you stop believing in the dogma, you abandon the religion. There is not supposed to be any dogma in science: something that cannot be questioned. No scientific idea should have the absolute authority that revelation has in religion.

The old Ptolemaic cosmology, taken literally, turned out to have some bugs in it, granted—but as a symbol, it expressed something that’s not outdated and has not been disproved: the belief that the material world studied by science is the lowest level of being, symbolized by the earth at the center (lowest place) of the universe. Around and above it are tiers upon tiers of higher orders. Science studies the lowest level of reality. If a scientist believes that’s all there is—if he’s a materialist—he’s welcome to his belief, but he has no right to call it science; it’s a philosophical position.

When ProfessorXfrom MIT, with a string of letters after his name, holds a press conference and solemnly assures us that Science has proven that human beings evolved, body and soul, from animals, that we can know with near certainty what happened in the first six seconds of the life of the universe, that the study of chimpanzees can tell us everything we need to know about human social life, that Mother Teresa can be explained in terms of selfish genes, and, above all, that God does not exist because we can, or very soon will be able to, explain everything without him, ProfessorXis cheating. He’s taking the respect we legitimately accord him for his scientific credentials and applying it illegitimately to things he knows no more about than his lay audience. He’s playing a shell game, and if anybody catches him at it, he gets very angry and looks into their religious affiliation.

Varieties of Wishful Thinking
I don’t want to descend to the ad hominem level, but I do wonder about a certain double standard in these public controversies. Fair is fair: Why is it that the atheists are allowed to freely accuse believers of cowardice and wishful thinking—of not having the guts to face the hard truth—when we believers don’t dare suggest, even ever so delicately, that when someone prefers this non-personal “fluctuation” to the God of Abraham and Moses, there may be something at work besides heroic honesty. After all, belief in a personal God is liable to cost the worshipers something in the way of interference with their sex lives, their reputations, or even their chances of tenure. There are all kinds of wishful thinking.

But even if all the atheists have hearts as pure as the driven snow and all believers are the crabbed, bigoted, fearful yahoos the atheists would like to think they are, I still insist that this updated form of atheism is a perverse and ignoble idea, and answering it does not require a Ph.D. in astrophysics. We only need to ask what kind of hard evidence could possibly be brought forth to prove it, considering that the whole idea of proof depends on the reliability of the human mind—which must be pretty much zilch if that mind is nothing but the effect of random and meaningless processes. And that is something that even a layman can understand.

Whatever a random quantum fluctuation may be, to pretend that it (or similar theories) can explain the whole universe is scientism with a vengeance. To say that there was something that was virtually nothing, and that it somehow had a trick of flickering into true something, randomly and without any reason or purpose, and the next thing you know it just naturally, over a span of time, turned into chickens and giraffes and giant squids and Major League Baseball and the New York Stock Exchange—excuse me, I’m not buying it. I will not bow down and worship this thing even if I hear the sound of the “horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, and bagpipe” (Dan. 3:5).

They may be playing it on new instruments, but it’s the same old song. •

Marilyn Prever ( is a retired homeschool teacher, mother and grandmother of a large family, whose articles have appeared inHomiletic & Pastoral Review, New Oxford Review, Second Spring,and other publications. She lives in Claremont, New Hampshire, with her family, and they worship at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Laymen's Guide to the Thirty-Nine Articles

We had to re-post this because Blogger lost it in cyberspace.

Article XIV

Of Works of Supererogation

Voluntary works besides, over and above, God's commandments which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for His sake than of bounden duty is required: Whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We be unprofitable servants.

De Operibus Supererogationis

Opera quae Supererogationis appellant non possunt sine arrogantia et impietate praedicari. Nam illis declarant homines non tantum se Deo reddere quae tenentur, sed plus in eius gratiam facere quam deberent: eum aperte Christus dicat: Cum feceritis omnia quaecunque praecepta sunt vobis, dicte, Servi inutiles sumus.

Fr. Robert Hart

We should begin by reading the entire parable from which the closing of the Article is drawn.

But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:7-10)

          Two things that we need to say quite a lot, to be humble and polite, are “please” and “thank you.” We are recipients of kindness for which we owe thanks, both to God and to our neighbor. We have needs, and we can be given things that aid and comfort us. It is significant that we have no record of God ever saying  “please” or “thank you.” It would be unthinkable. When the Bible speaks of the “goodness” of God to man, it speaks of something beyond His provision for our needs, such as “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart (Psalm 104:15).” We cannot return that goodness, since God “Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things (Acts 17:25).”
          Even the worship we give to God is really His gift to us. Jesus said to the woman in Samaria, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24).” Why does the Father seek such to worship Him? Does He need this worship? Does it add anything to God? Are we able to supply anything to enrich Him? Very bad theologians have taught that we might be able to meet some need in God, or that we were created to that end. And, that is error of a very serious kind.   
          Such a god is less than the true God. Does God need our love? The answer is no; God is never alone; God is Trinity of Persons Named by the Risen Christ as “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” into which one Name we are baptized and commanded to baptize (Matt. 28: 18-20). Does God need our worship? Does God need our service? Is it even true, though piously asserted, that “God has no body, no hands nor feet but ours?”    
The answer to all of these questions is No. God needs no boost to His ego, since God knows that he is worthy of more worship than every created being could offer forever and ever. Why then does the Father seek those who shall worship Him in spirit and in truth? Is this not another way of saying those things Jesus also told us? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16, 17).” Is it not the same as these words? “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost (Matt. 18:11)” “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).”
          God seeks worshipers in spirit and in truth because that meets the needs of human beings, it is the end for which we were made, and therefore we have been sought by the Savior, the good Shepherd, for our own good. God needs no worship; but, we need to worship Him. For that we need to be restored and forgiven, and made His children by faith in His only begotten Son. From the human perspective worship is about God. From the Divine perspective it is man who is sought out. That is because of God’s essential character: “God is love (I John 4:8,16).”
          That love or charity, namely γάπη (agapē) is entirely giving. The character of God, that He wills to impart in us as His children, is described by St. Paul:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth (I Cor. 13:4-8).”

Ultimately, in the history of fallen man, we see the expression of that love in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8).
          It is, therefore, not possible to give God anything, and certainly not possible to profit Him. God has nothing to gain, nothing to learn, and no potential to develop, inasmuch as He is perfect and complete in eternity. The entire creation of all things out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo) was the first miracle and the first grace. What we may offer to God is never sufficient to His Being, but is rather necessary for our well-being.
          Knowing this, we must consider that God’s commandments to love Him and our neighbor cannot be obeyed perfectly by fallen creatures; for, as we have seen in chapters about previous Articles, in this life we cannot escape our fallen condition. And, we can neither profit God, nor can we ever become so holy that He could ever owe us anything. The whole idea of supererogation, which is described for us in the Article itself, begins by assuming that fallen creatures are capable of a perfect will in which works “over and above” God’s commandments are possible, a will in which this goodness is “voluntary.”
          By the time this Article was composed this had become a widely believed part of the “Treasury” of saintly merits, from which indulgences were allegedly credited by the pope to the negative accounts of sinners. As if the cross of Christ were not sufficient to pay for all human sins in the whole of history (I John 2:2, John 19:30 τελέω ), the doctrine of a punitive Purgatory was believed in its crudest form. The Treasury of saintly merits was believed to be the balance owed by God to mankind for works over and above His holy requirements, which could be distributed to aid souls in need of some payment on their behalf. Therefore, to restore appreciation for the whole meaning of Christ’s cross, it was necessary to repudiate the notion of works of supererogation.
          This repudiation is necessary in every way, even for the appreciation of God’s grace as our Creator, and then certainly to place true value on the cross of Christ for our redemption, also by God’s grace. Grace itself, even before the Fall of man, even among angels who have not fallen, rules out the possibility of supererogation. It brings God down to the level of One who might say “please” and “thank you.” Whereas, in truth, He gives life to all. How much more it is we creatures who give all the thanks, unprofitable servants at best, especially we who have been given life, and then also bought back from sin and death by the blood of Christ.         

Fr. Laurence Wells


When we consider the indignant tone of Article XIV ("arrogancy and impiety"), it is somewhat surprising to discover that this concept has apparently been consigned, like Limbo itself, to the limbo of Roman Catholic theology.  I cannot find the term in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), nor in Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum, nor in Neuner & Dupuis's massive collection entitled "The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church." Delving into the Catholic Encyclopedia, the word "supererogation" itself is not included in the alphabetical listing, but the index reveals exactly ten occurrences in St Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica.  He does not do much with the concept, but only mentions it in passing.  As an example which seems to be typical, in Question 185, Article 6, "May a Bishop Have Anything of His Own," the Angelic Doctor opines, "No one is bound to works of supererogation, unless he binds himself specially thereto by vow…  Bishops, however, do not bind themselves at their ordination to live without possessions of their own; nor indeed does the pastoral office, to which they bind themselves, make it necessary for them to live without anything of their own. Therefore bishops are not bound to live without possessions of their own."      
The whole notion seems to be a footnote to the doctrine of merit.  Therefore, it seems almost excluded by what the CCC has to say on that head, in Paragraph 2007: "With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man.  Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, or we have received everything from him, our Creator."  If this seems to be a surrender to the Reformation (those words could have been penned by Luther himself), what Rome gives with one hand it takes with the other.  At Paragraphs 1478 and 1479, the Treasury of Merit and the Indulgence system turns up again like a bad penny.  The cancer in remission at 2007 has flared up again in 1478-79.
Occasionally we encounter an attempt to find some Biblical under-girding for the notion if supererogation.  At Luke 10:35, the Good Samaritan said to the Innkeeper, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."  The Vulgate here uses the verb supererogo for "more you spend."  It is truly saddening to find a faulty interpretation which is so wide of the mark.  The point made in the parable is the unbounded generosity of the Samaritan, which mirrors the infinite grace of God.  An opportunity to earn merit by going "beyond the call of duty" is surely very far from the meaning of the text.      
Even if marginal in Roman Catholic theology, the notion is important as evidence of exactly how pernicious the concept of merit truly is.  If there is any way whatever for finite human beings (even virtuous and saintly human beings) to earn a claim on God's goodness, we are in serious trouble.  The Gospels, indeed, have a strong concept of "reward."  But they never invite us to reason backwards and infer that where a reward is bestowed, it must have been deserved. When that fallacy is admitted, then naturally we expect a program of extra credit. "Arrogancy and impiety" are in fact mild words for such a subversion of the Gospel of grace.         
As a matter of some slight interest, it is perhaps ironic that where "works of supererogaion" have been consigned to theological limbo, secular ethicists have discovered the term and since the 1960's have produced a voluminous literature with mind-deadening titles such as "Forced Supererogation and Deontological Restrictions."  This discussion entertains itself with learned inquiry concerning the boundaries between virtue and heroism.  This is not a fruitless endeavor; when we see firemen running into burning buildings with little hope of survival, we recognize something truly extraordinary, which surely God will reward.  But the heroism of soldiers who fall on hand grenades is a far cry from counting Hail Marys to earn an Indulgence.
The secular reflections on this concept, however, are necessarily confined to the obligation of one human being to another, a child to his parents, an employee to his boss, a soldier to his comrades or to his country.  But we may not generalize from "going beyond the call of duty" in strictly human affairs to the duties of the creature to his Creator or the sinner to his Saviour.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Galatians 3:16-22 *  Luke 10:23-37
The parable we have heard today is called the Parable of the Good Samaritan. However, the Lord Jesus simply called the man "a certain Samaritan." Christ also taught us, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10) The Lord did not, therefore, assign the title "good" to the Samaritan for doing what was, in the story, simply the man's duty to his neighbor as revealed in the Law of God.

The Samaritan is not held up as an extraordinary example, but merely as a proper example. If there is anything praiseworthy about the Samaritan, it is his mercy and humility. For, the Samaritan was chosen to be an exemplary character in the story, quite deliberately, to make a simple point: You must love your neighbor without regard for how he has treated you, or how you expect him to treat you later.

The Samaritans were despised by the Jews, and they returned the resentment with no love lost. Jesus, however, reached out to the Samaritans. On one occasion the Samaritans of one village refused to receive him (Luke 9:52); but earlier another Samaritan village did receive him (John 4:1-42). Even there, however, the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well reminded him, "the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."

It is highly significant, therefore, that the man in the story is a Samaritan. Of all the men who came by, and saw the wounded Jewish victim of a criminal attack lying on the side of the road, the Samaritan was the least likely to want to help him. Why should he help a man who, no doubt, was entirely prejudiced against him? Perhaps, if the victim were awake and alert in his helpless condition, he would fear the Samaritan's approach. Perhaps, despite his need for help from somebody -- anybody -- he might nonetheless say something like, "don't touch me with your Samaritan hands!" 

But the Samaritan was set on one purpose, and that was to love his neighbor as himself, and therefore to act according to the man's need. He may never gain a friend for doing so; maybe not the man himself, and maybe no one back home who might disapprove of helping a Jew. He may have been afraid to tell the folks back home. But, at that moment he was "moved with compassion," and he obeyed the Law of God; he acted out of charity. 

The lawyer, in this case the student of the Torah, who asked Jesus about the commandments, no doubt had heard the Lord teach. He already knew what were, in the teaching of Jesus, the two greatest commandments of the Law: "'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.' And [Jesus] said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.'"

Of course, Jesus did not teach these things only. He demonstrated them as well. The Prophet Isaiah foretold the day when God would commend "his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (see Rom. 5:8) in the famous Suffering Servant passage. The prophet foresaw the day when the crowds would be turned against Jesus, rewarding the man "who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38) with hatred and rejection for all the good he had done. So wrote the prophet, roughly 700 years ahead of that day, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:3) In that context, wherein the Lord was treated worse than a Samaritan by his Jewish brethren, and worse still by the Romans who perpetrated the violence and cruelty that he endured, we are told of how much he acted with love, according to the needs of each and everyone of us.

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (vs. 4-6)

He had said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) He defined for us, by his actions, that a friend may not be one who loves you; but, he is someone you love as your neighbor. Jesus called even Judas, "friend" as he betrayed the Lord (Matt. 26:50 "And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?"). From his perspective, as he was hanging on the cross and pouring out his soul unto death for you, and for me, Jesus Christ did not have an enemy in the world. Yes, he saw that they poured forth their hatred against him:

"Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." (Psalm 22:12-18)

Yes, they saw him as an enemy, and treated him as a conquered enemy, exhibiting glee from the spectacle of his torments, triumphing with cruel merriment. But, from his Divine and human perspective, he was laying down his life for them, and that made them his friends, as it makes you his friend.

"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." (Luke 23:33,34)

So, Jesus not only taught us to treat everyone, including those who regard us as enemies, as we would treat friends; he did so himself.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:43-48)

This is not to be treated lightly. As God on his throne in heaven, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son could not be harmed by man's malice. But, as a man, we see Jesus demonstrating the love of God through his human nature, actually suffering injustice, cruelty and pain; and he responded by forgiving and praying for his persecutors. This was Divine forgiveness from the Man Christ Jesus. (I Tim. 25)

Getting back to the parable, look at the men who "passed by on the other side." They saw their brother, a man of the same people and the same faith, stripped of his raiment, wounded and half-dead. The first man who saw him was a priest of the temple. No doubt, he had his religious duties to attend to. Perhaps, from all he could tell, the man was dead, and therefore the priest did not want to be made unclean. So too the Levite. He also served in the temple, and if this man was dead, he, like the priest, did not want the inconvenience of being made ceremonially unclean. Their religious duties, awaiting them in Jerusalem, must have seemed too important to be interrupted by the need, even the desperate need, of this their neighbor. 

I would think the Lord was using irony in the parable. Here are two men who know the Law, who belong to the temple, who do sacred work, passing by the man, passing by on the far side of the road. But, a Samaritan, despised and rejected wherever his business took him in Israel, is the one man who obeys the Law. Yes, I would think the Lord was using irony, if not for my many years of seeing some religious people, the kind who are very correct about every little detail all the time, who know the rubrics better than God does, but who behave, nonetheless, the same way that the priest and the Levite do in the parable.

Someone who serves in the temple might pass by on the other side. However, one who serves God would not, even if he is only a Samaritan. 

The Samaritan in the story did not do a great thing, but merely did his duty. The priest and the Levite did a great thing, for they committed a very grave sin. When news came to Tobit that a man of Israel had died, he rose from his dinner and buried him, even though the king had ordered that the corpses of Jews were to be left to rot, so that the crowds could belittle and insult them even in death.

And in the time of Enemessar I gave many alms to my brethren, and gave my bread to the hungry, and my clothes to the naked: and if I saw any of my nation dead, or cast about the walls of Nineve, I buried him. And if the king Sennacherib had slain any, when he was come, and fled from Judea, I buried them privily; for in his wrath he killed many. (Tobit 1:16-18, see also Tobit 2:3-8)

Acts of charity are always in accord with the Law of God. If the rare occasion arises wherein charity appears to conflict with a religious duty, God has commanded us to see charity as the higher priority. The Priest and Levite should have risked ceremonial uncleanness, a mere concern of the "Kosher Laws," to love their neighbor in his time of need. Someone else could serve in the temple during the time in which they might have become lo tahor, or "unclean." It would not have been the end of the world. If ever your sensitivities, and not merely but especially your religious sensitivities, incline you to place ceremony or rubrics ahead of charity, be certain that God will not hear your prayers. "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." (Prov. 28:9)

And, concerning that Law, the second great commandment is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus has taught us the way, and in showing us the way has redeemed us from sin and death on his cross.
"'Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?' And he said, 'He that shewed mercy on him.' Then said Jesus unto him, 'Go, and do thou likewise.'"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fr. Wells

is still recovering from a broken arm, and now is experiencing problems with his own  that probably cannot be resolved until early next week. I believe we will have the next chapter ready to post, therefore, during the week coming up. We are on Article XIV. I wrote the opening. I sent it to Fr. Wells, and have learned some very interesting things, that I confess to having not learned before, from Fr. Wells (when we talked) because of his research. So, it will be worth waiting for.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


In ancient times a conquered people might be carried away into captivity with the idea that, over time, their distinctive national and ethnic identity would vanish. Very likely, this was intended by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon against the people of Judah, and prevented by God Himself. In modern times, the Jewish people see assimilation as a danger to their existence, fearing the missionary nature of the Church as much as they fear hostility. Assimilation does destroy a people's distinctiveness, and with it their unique cultural contributions to the human race and to history. 

About distinctiveness, it has been said many times that Anglicanism has no distinctive theology of its own, but only that of the Church. Sometimes we might phrase it as the Catholic Church, taking our definition of "Catholic" from the Creeds we say. (When we say "the Catholic Church" we include the Roman Catholic Church as only one part of the larger Catholic Church, not the whole and not possessing "the fullness" to any degree greater than we possess it as well.) That is, the whole purpose of Anglican theologians should be Christianity without any innovations. As the late Rev. Dr. Louis Tarsitano put it, in a conversation almost ten years ago among the Touchstone editors, "the only reason to be Anglican is to avoid the innovations both of Rome and of Protestantism." Not creating a distinctive theology is the distinctive theology of Anglicanism. Everyone else has created distinctions by their innovations, and continue to do so; but, we ought to remain committed to our own distinctive non-distinctiveness, as much as it may seem paradoxical at first glance.

Among Anglicans, however, we find many who have embraced partisan extremes that are very distinctive and controversial. These include people who call themselves, or who may be called, "Reformed," "Anglo-Catholic" or "Liberal." About the first two, both names have a perfectly good meaning. Anglicanism is Reformed, or Protestant; otherwise it would not exist in the West outside of the Roman Catholic Church. It is Catholic, with the fullness of Christian doctrine and all of the sacraments duly and validly administered, as well as having maintained episcopal order and the Apostolic Succession of bishops. Frankly, anyone who cannot accept this full package has already refuted or rejected Anglicanism, for we are uniquely able to reconcile the truth to itself even when that requires rescuing some neglected or over-emphasized portion of truth from those who would rob and spoil us of our full inheritance.

For example, some who call themselves "Reformed" want to forbid things that are deeply beneficial and edifying to people, even though they are not, strictly speaking, necessary. Some of them, to cite another example, want to deny the five "commonly called" or "lesser sacraments," because they simply do not possess the literacy it takes to read the Articles with understanding. The opposite example is that some who call themselves "Anglo-Catholic" wrongly accept those very definitions and low level of literacy, and are fooled into throwing away part of their own inheritance as a consequence. Instead of seeing that they need to accept the classic Formularies as a window to the ancient Church, they allow self-proclaimed "Reformed" extremists to set the definitions; and those definitions are no different from the confusion and distortion that is present in Roman Catholic polemics against Anglicanism.

The consequences of extremist partisan theology among modern Anglicans has created severe consequences. We see people so committed to defining Anglicanism in exclusively Protestant terms, and possessing insufficient learning, that they either throw away the meaning of priesthood Sydney style (that is, Lay Celebration) or by willingness to live with the ordination of women1 (which, of course, includes another form of Lay Celebration), sometimes even when they know and admit that is both a contradiction of Scripture and an unhealthy pastoral practice apart from direct sacramental invalidity. They have no understanding of Catholic order as God has established it, nor of the grace God works through the sacraments.

Among some who call themselves Anglo-Catholic we have extremists who are, in fact, Anglo-Papalists. But we have also those who allow outsiders to interpret Anglican doctrinal history for them. To them I would say a few things. One of those things is that I would be very unhappy to limit my thinking to the issues of the sixteenth century, because the issues of that period required reaction and remedial steps that would not be good in our time. But, the English Reformers were not wrong in thinking or doctrine; and the steps they took in their time were necessary. Later, when the Anglo-Catholics, the old ones called Tractarians going back to the Oxford Movement, sought to restore dignity to the sacraments (really after eighteenth century neglect) and a fuller grasp of genuine Tradition, they also affirmed their commitment to the classic Formularies. Even Newman, before his apostasy, reiterated the commitment and love they shared for the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, in his well-known Tract 90.

When I say I would not wish to limit my thinking to the sixteenth century, let me cite an example. I would not want to limit my understanding of the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood to what Archbishop Thomas Cranmer emphasized (mostly) in his Defence of the Catholick Doctrine of the Sacrament. It comes up short in what it emphasizes. Nonetheless, I recommend his book, commend it, and would not want to lose it.2 For, Cranmer was right to say that Holy Communion is of no benefit to anyone who takes it apart from personal faith in Christ. The main consideration he taught about the sacrament is that it is efficacious by means of the sign, which makes Transubstantiation, as it was defined then, as wrong as Zwingli's "bare sign." The point is, I like a fuller view of the sacrament, but not a view that removes Cranmer's emphasis from the picture.  We need it to complete the puzzle.

As for the Anglo-Papalists, they are simply wrong. They demand conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, making the absurd claim that it is the logical end of Anglican belief. Yet, they reject a great deal of Anglican belief as error, giving themselves no bridge to its "logical end." They call the Church of Rome by titles consistent with its enormous claims, that we have never recognized, such as "the Catholic Church," or "Mother Church." They demonstrate that they are "shocked, shocked" to learn that Anglicans exist who have never intended to become Roman Catholics, taking it upon themselves at times to scold and deride committed Anglicans. They wrongly assert that everything from the Tracts to the Affirmation of St. Louis was about getting back to Rome. Their image of the Roman Catholic Church is idealistic to the point of fantasy. Finally, they know nothing about real Anglicanism, and accept ideas such as those put forth by Abp. Hepworth, that Anglicanism is merely "English culture" with a "patrimony" that is merely ceremonial. The issue is not their conversion to Roman Catholicism, but whether or not they might be converted to Anglicanism, a church tradition they know nothing about.

In case you think I forgot the Liberals, or "those who call themselves Liberal," let me say that once upon a time there was a good meaning to this word also. The classic liberals of the past saw the places in Scripture where "God is no respecter of persons,"3 and where He commands mercy and compassion so that we exercise justice, that we feed the poor and needy and care for widows and orphans. They were against evils that other Anglicans blindly accepted, such as racism and antisemitism. The real image of a good liberal would be the Episcopal Missionary Bishop of Minnesota in the nineteenth century, Rt. Rev. Henry Whipple, who built the Church among the Chippewa and the Dakota, and other "Indian" peoples. 

But, all the good they once stood for is now the common property of all; for we have taken their message to heart. The modern people who think they are "liberal" stand only for calling evil good and good evil4 , for murdering unborn children in the womb, for sexual immorality of every kind including the "Blessing" of same sex unions, and for a total rejection of faith in Divine revelation. 

I want us to be glad to have our Anglican identity. We should resist assimilation because if we are taken captive into any other denomination, or "Anglican" copy of one, we will lose some part of the truth. For, only in our non-distinctive distinctiveness, are we allowed to have the whole doctrine and practice of the Church. That may sound chauvinistic or tribal; and I wish it could sound otherwise. But, I am an Anglican by choice in a free country, so what should you expect? When a day for outward unity comes, let us bring our gifts to the whole Church rather than having lost them by assimilation.

1. This error has been answered very well, and with a lot of work, by the Rev. Canon John Hollister on this blog. See the links in Briefcase: Priestesses in Plano.

2. I have never understood how anyone could accuse Cranmer or the other English Reformers of Zwinglianism, inasmuch as they denounced Zwingli's real absence by name, and labeled it "bare sign" when condemning it. However, some argue that Zwingli was not really teaching any such thing, though he will forever be perceived as teaching it.

3. Acts 10:34

4. Isaiah 5:20