Archive for the 'Anglicanism' Category

Pat Lynch and CFM have a new podcast on religion and culture

December 23, 2014

Here is a new, and important, outreach from Christian Foundations for Ministry, Inc. The new podcast “Reconciled” is on the internet and this is your invitation to give it a try at:

http://reconciled.podomatic.com

The plan is for a daily cast (usually five days a week), under five minutes, dealing with religious and cultural affairs.

You can help! Listen (it’s free) “like.” comment, share, subscribe, and tell your friends. This kind of thing does not just mature overnight. It takes time and work. Fortunately, the work is not back breaking.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement in 2014. We have (God willing) a big announcement coming in January!

May you enjoy the blessings of the season,

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ACNA Archbishop asks his bishops and clergy to hold off on signing The Marriage Pledge | Virtueonline

December 1, 2014

Archbishop Foley Beech is right to ask ACNA clergy to pause before signing the currently circulating pledge concerning the lawful recording of marriage certificates. This action serves people who have come to ordained clergy seeking what ordained clergy do. The legal documentation is beside the point and has nothing whatever to do with the very unfortunate situation in which same gender marriages are permitted.

This will require a bit of time and patience. There are two links immediately below. The first takes you to a widely circulated source which, in this instance, I presume to be accurate. This item brings the reader up to date on what is frequently called the “Radner-Seitz pledge.” The second link takes you to the Roman Catholic canon law page of J. N. Peters, whose reputation and qualifications are, to the best of my knowledge, unblemished. Please put aside old prejudices (if I did, you can too!) and careful read the arguments. In my humble opinion, Peters makes a sufficient case as to why the marriage pledge is a bad idea, no matter how much we may oppose same gender marriage.

ACNA Archbishop asks his bishops and clergy to hold off on signing The Marriage Pledge | Virtueonline – The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism.

Peters view, which seems fairly clear headed to me, is understood by following this link to “A chronology of (mostly) my comments on ecclesiastical cooperation with civil marriage.” Abp. Beach is well advised to avoid the knee-jerk response that provides little more than instant gratification

 

 

 

The great unhappiness of Fergusson, Mo. #Fergusson

August 25, 2014

Thee seems to be a recurrent cycle in the development of news stories. Version A, trumped by Version B, none-calling and personal attacks. scapegoating,  Version C, Version D, more name calling, best story wins, and the poor people catch hell. So it goes in Fergusson, Mo. For the moment, it is America’s unhappiest. town.

If one is a little bit Reformed, the cause is obvious. Yes, three is racism for sure and you can easily find economic inequality. There is a prideful part of humanity that requires not only victory but the destruction of those holding different positions. The hyper-Calvinists call this disorder of the soul “total depravity.” For us Anglicans, that kind of language is awfully strong. We prefer talking about “the fall.”

So what?

The Reformed (include properly schooled Anglicans) know that the Civil Rights Movement may have passed some laws and changed a few customs, but human nature remains the same. We continue to be the same judgmental, power-hungry, greedy, and diligent guardians of the privileges bestowed on the fortunate. Yes, there is racism, and to admit its existence, like a rotting corpse concealed in the basement, is to expose ourselves to accountability. It is to deny what we say about ourselves when the flags are unfurled. We would rather turn our eyes away from the lingering consequences of slavery than get our nominally Christian hands dirty fixing anything.

The “fixing” part is difficult because, as was the case in the Civil Rights Movement, there is only so much even an entire generation can accomplishment. Human nature is still a mess and that can only be addressed  by putting on the new man of conversion and Baptism into the Body of Christ. That means being open to the leading of the divine Spirit. Too easy? Not if one is actually led into a new set of behaviors that walk away from the old cycle of suspicion and wishing the destruction of those that look, act and think differently.

If this individual change (some of us call it “regeneration”) is insufficient, then the gospel is a lie and the atheists are right. Even though the good outcomes of following Jesus are not immediately visible, we take up the cross anyway. Friends, it is a cross – an instrument of our own pending executions. It is faith and the power of God’s grace that moves Christians to act like Christians anyway. It is forgiveness, turning the other cheek, and taking up the cross. That is completely opposite from the name-calling and personal destruction that is Fergusson.

The Christlike version of change takes time. It takes so much time that it is typical to think that one has failed. This notion of success is a something that runs deep in the culture. It is the same strain that looks upon the poor as failures. The dominant American idea is that those who have less deserve all the bad things that happen to the powerless. Christians know that we are tested and one’s attitude toward and treatment of the less fortunate is a measure of character and part of the criteria on which we will be judged. That is God’s grace delivered by the hands of men.

 

Passing on the Faith: Anglicanism’s advantages

August 1, 2014

One of my projects involves providing parents the theological and cultural background to help young people fit into the increasingly unfriendly American scene. I have been involved in planning a number of very exciting Sunday school classes on the topic. Such gatherings seem to be deliberately designed to be anything but exciting and rarely useful, but this was the big exception. One thing that made the programs “work” was the inclusion of college students and those who have graduated within the past decade. They were great! There were also a number of “expert” speakers on psychology and culture. All the  presentations were relatively brief. You might try it at your church. I can help.

One thing did get left out, and this might not apply to your congregation. It is my belief that Anglicanism has a tradition and set of practices that makes it especially relevent to these darker times. Anglicanism as we know it from the middle 1500s has passed through a good deal of persecution and civil war. Sometimes, to our great shame, Anglicans have represented the heavy hand of oppression. Who do you think the Pilgrims were running from anyway? In the United States around 1790 what group would be more excluded than the Church of England?

Anglicans have kept a catholic liturgy alongside a Reformed theology. Anglicans have a sense of the essentials and can also recognize the “extras.” At least, thoughtful Anglicans have this capability. Our capacity for disagreement and “tension” is almost scandalous. Clear thinking Anglicans are in possession of the skills to nurture and spread the gospel in the good times as much as the bad. This is what I am trying to teach. One does not have to be grumpy or nostalgic to be a traditional Anglican. It only takes a little knowledge and the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Virginia church may look Anglican, but it’s fully Baptist

August 1, 2014

Here is the story of a Baptist church plant that is both liturgical and sacramental. What do you think. Give it a read and make a comment. We’ll rap.

Virginia church may look Anglican, but it’s fully Baptist | Virtueonline – The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism.

Why is passing on the faith a big deal?

July 29, 2014

Christian Foundations for Ministry just wrapped up a series of classes at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Little Rock. The concept is born from the apparent departure of many young people from Christian belief. In many ways, they are like their parents being over-worked, suspicious of authority, and unwilling to get mixed up in demanding social activities. There are plenty of reasons, and the truth is that most of us walked away from organized religion in the younger days.

Today is different because Christianity is being forced to accept its place as a cultural minority. For the modern believer, this new situation may not result in martyrdom, but a life of enforced irrelevance is certainly no fun. This reordering may or may not be permanent. The elements are present for all  sorts of misbehavior. The point is that young people will be in a very much worse environment than their parents.

The supposed “grown ups” are often disconnected from the realities that personally demean and discount the individual follower of Christ. For one thing, if one is entirely clueless about postmodernism, he is missing the foundation of much contemporary thought. The traditional apologetics does not fit into a world that is, first, relational, and otherwise suspicious of absolutes. Yes, this is very similar to a lot that was happening in the 70s, but the “other side” has all the presumption of place that was formerly the sole possession of Christians.

This is not very pleasant, but here we are at the beginning of the decline. Yes, we have the biblical hope for final victory, but Jesus has placed the gospel in human hands and evangelization is our responsibility. It is a direct order from the Head of the Church, the Great Commission. That’s the big deal.

Should lay people study theology?

June 17, 2014

It is obviously a loaded question. What am I going to say? Heck, no! Why bother? It all turns out the same one way or the other. (By the way, that is a better argument than you may think!) If you come down the line of Anglicanism or some other liturgy-heavy form of worship, you have been confirmed (usually around age 12) and that is the PhD of religious studies for regular folks. Study is a load of work and, if you are not careful, it might change your mind. If could change your life. If things are going well, that is the very last thing you might desire.

In Matt 25, the Lord describes the Last Judgment and the process of handing out final grades. There is not the first hint of academic achievement but plenty about taking care of the least among us. So there! Case closed! No more Christian Education (and most of us hated it anyway!).

But how are we to know in advance of the Last Day? What source tells us that kindness towards the sufferers is one of the final manifestations of our Christian life? And what’s all this business of eternal punishment anyway? And, beside the fact that he is a really nice man, where did Jesus get that kind of authority?

Christians are obliged to take up the cross and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). That does not sound very appealing. You can be darned sure that Jesus’ public relations consultant sat him down hard after that little slip-up. Most people do not have much of a stomach for executions, especially their own. What if Jesus really meant it? If the Christian life that hard? Why would anybody follow Christ, except to avoid that eternal punishment thing.

Is it possible that Christ has in mind something more than the avoidance of spending all time in a burning pit of suffering. If God has something more in mind for his righteous people, something very good and beautiful, we could only learn about it by study. That would take time and effort and the guidance of a knowledgable teacher.

God has a good future for his holy people. He intends for each of us to become students and to make students of others (Matt 28:18-20. Jesus set the example. Look how he quotes the scriptures and teaches from the law and the prophets. See how Jesus both teaches the written word but lives it out. That is what we must do in this world today.

 

Discovering the risen Christ

April 21, 2014

This blogger has been away for too long, but for a good cause. The “greater good” was an opportunity to present the traditional service of Evening Prayer to the people of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Little Rock. Along the way, I was foolishly led into the world of self publishing a set of modest worship leaflets for the five consecutive “work” days. An intelligent man would have handed the task over to professionals. The positive side of the experience was a warm interaction with musicians, clergy, readers and appreciative Anglicans. The scripture readings of the Daily Office are always confrontational in a positive sort of way and uplifting. I am a much richer Christian for paying attention to these wonderful voices.

Being reimmersed in the flow of scripture that is at the heart of the Anglican Daily Office has caused me to read the gospel accounts of the resurrection. It is a useful exercise. The Matthew rendition has two Marys showing up at the tomb around dawn, and just in time for an earthquake. It is a curious thing that the women encountered not Jesus but an angel, who sent them to quickly inform the disciples. Along the way, they do meet Jesus and embrace his feet. Mark reports Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (this raises questions!) and Salome come to the empty tomb and meet the angel inside. They are dispatched to inform “the disciples and Peter” of the momentous news. (Isn’t Peter a disciple?) The “alternate” Mark recounts Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene first (16:9). In the Lukan account, the women from Galilee found the tomb opened and conversed with two angels inside. They were sent back to the disciples, who seemed not to care much for the story. However, Peter ran to the tomb and looked inside before returning home marveling. As John tells it, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb alone and saw the stone removed, but no angelic visitor. She ran to tell the disciples, which led Peter and the “other disciple” to race toward the tomb. The “other disciple” outran Peter and waited for him to enter first. Immediately afterward, Mary Magdalene rises from weeping and enters to discover two angels. Departing, she faces the risen Lord, but does not recognize him. Finally, she falls to her knees and takes hold of Jesus, but (contra the Matthew version) he instructs her not to touch him. Interestingly, it is Mary Magdalene who is assigned the duty of reporting the resurrection to Jesus’ followers, even though she has already informed them of the missing tomb!

The discrepancies found in the Gospels suggest God’s use of human authors to tell the essential truths of what he is up to down here. Jesus meets believers walking around, walking through doors, over breakfast, and in the upper room. Jesus seems unrecognizable to the people who knew him. He did not meet the temple Jews, Pilate, Barabbas, or any Roman executioners. Unlike what one might expect in an appealing story of human accomplishment, there was no payback.

We do not recognize Jesus today because his face is concealed in the destitute and disrespected. As Jesus says repeatedly in Matt 25, “as you did it to the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.” Around these parts, Jesus is a household name. He is often ignored and discounted, even among his own disciples, but he will send the Holy Spirit who enlightens the mind and opens the eyes.

What will a Christian do with the gift of the Holy Spirit? If one has a true faith, this means acting on God’s word. Jesus is risen indeed and very much alive in this world. Actually, he is alive in two ways. He is visible in the poor who still bear God’s image. Jesus unequivocally identifies with the downtrodden. These are more than the objects of charity, they are to receive respect and true kindness.

The other way in which Jesus is present in the world is in his church, the very body of Christ. You can find the idea in 1 Cor 12 and Eph 2. Christians, united in a faithful spiritual fellowship, are the visible working living presence of Jesus in the world today. That is why we may never give up on the church, no matter its’ failings. Anglicans do have this part figured out. According to the 39 Articles of Religion, the church is the divinely authorized location where the word of God is faithfully preached and the Sacraments are duly administered (Article 19). This is not to say that the Anglican tradition is the only true faith. It means that the church of the gospel is devoted to preaching the whole counsel of God’s inspired word and faithfully performing the sacraments.

One particularly mysterious way in which the resurrected Lord makes himself made known in the world today is through the Eucharist. Somehow, and we are not able to say how, Jesus comes to be with his people when they gather for the remembrance of his death in the Lord’s Supper. It is our spiritual nourishment that assures of us God’s favor and gives strength for those good works toward the downcast. In Holy Communion, believers become one with Jesus and united with one another. So we have not been left in that upper room, but we have the assurance of God’s good will and encouragement of one another to move out in a troubling world. Jesus has not been left in the tomb, but he is present in every humble and truly converted Christian.

 

 

Arkansas Episcopal diocese deals with transgender priest

February 28, 2014

An Anglican website reports on a transgendered priest who, until recently, served at an Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff.

The Rev. Greg Fry, priest-in-charge at Grace Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, told his congregation Sunday morning that he is transgendered and identifies himself as a woman, apparently becoming the only working member of the Episcopalian clergy in Arkansas ever to make such an announcement.

Arkansas Episcopal Bishop Larry Benfield announces that the pastoral relationship between the priest and Grace Church has been dissolved. Benfield observed, “I hope that we never reduce the struggles that we all face in our lives to snap judgments that are best suited to sound bites, just as I hope that we do not make decisions based on fear of the unknown.”

If I may be allowed an observation, and these are my personal opinions, it might be good for everybody to take a long deep breath and try to remember that we profess to be followers of Jesus. Let us presume, for the sole purpose of making a point, that the minister being discussed is the rottenest, low-down, depraved sinner on earth. Would it not follow that he is most in need of our prayers? Are we not required to help restore sinful people to a right relationship with God? Or does that apply only to people with whom we are comfortable?

The reporter notes, “a transgender person is one who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one that corresponds to the person’s sex at birth. Transgender orientation is independent of sexual orientation.” This is a somewhat technical matter and one must presume the general accuracy of the definition. All stories have space limitations and every reporter has a deadline. News is never comprehensive.

There is, I think, I general misconception that gender identity at birth is always a matter of instantaneous observation, but there are a surprising number of cases in which determination of gender is not at all straightforward. There are medical experts who routinely deal with such cases. Moving on from that starting point, it is not difficult to imagine that an individual might be misidentified from the earliest stages.

We all need to understand that there is a difference between gender “dysphoria” (the predicament of the priest in Pine Bluff) and cross-dressing. The former is a condition of gender confusion. I learned all this during my almost 40 years in radio, but am by no means an expert. So far as I can tell, the situation this young man finds himself in is yet another symptom of the Fall. Paul reminds us in Romans 8 that the creation is groaning in expectation of a coming time when everything will be back in a proper relationship with God.

Whether this individual should be in public ministry is another question altogether. I am not part of the Episcopal diocese, so it would be wise to show some restraint. As a traditional Anglican, I have nothing to brag about. Our bishops have shown themselves to be broken men. We all struggle against our fleshy nature. None of us have any right to do anything other than pray for the Episcopal Church and get on with the business of spreading the gospel to those who need it most.

 

CFM, Inc. is looking forward to the New Year! #ChristianEducation

December 24, 2013

This has been a year full of developments which would have been impossible to predict. One year ago, the Anglican School of Ministry suddenly discontinued the Foundations program and suspended the academic portion of the ASM operation. From this disappointing circumstance, it was determined to continue a new program of continuing education type classes for believers to strengthen their personal ministry and walk with Christ.

Since some of you may be ASM alumni, it would be appropriate for me to note here that the academic transcripts have been transferred to Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa. The Registrar is a professional and helpful lady named Stacey Willard. Trinity, an outstanding and fully accredited seminary, has arranged a very fair and proper program for the transfer of ASM credits. As the holder of an MMin from ASM, I feel very well-satisfied with the quality of education which I have received.

The abrupt end of Foundations required that I become involved with our state licensing agencies in order to assure that the newly established institution was operating in accordance with laws and regulations. This was an eye-opening experience. By May, it became obvious that the little school would have to incorporate as a not-for-profit religious corporation. In October, it was determined that Christian Foundations for Ministry, Inc. would best prosper if it obtained 501(c)3 status from the IRS. You may have heard that this is a time-consuming and expensive process. Let me confirm all that you have heard. There have been some changes as a result of this demanding process.

CFM, Inc.  is supervised by an independent Board of Directors. Our officers are:

Mr. Kenneth E. Benson, Chairman

Ms. Gail H. Douglas, Treasurer

Dr. David Sims

Mr. Patrick Lynch, Secretary (Non-voting)

CFM is developing an advisory board to strengthen the institution’s presence and to provide ideas and professional insight on the development of curriculum.

The goal of the CFM, Inc. program is to provide fully equipped followers of Jesus Christ for effective Gospel-centered ministry through high quality and relevant Christian education provided to students in their local congregations. The classes may also be suitable for those in ordained ministry seeking to enhance and maintain professional proficiency. Here are a few items on our “to do” list.

• Present the standard class offerings on a regular basis, while maintaining affordable tuition.

• Implement focused “mini-courses” of four to six weeks duration.

• Offer, without charge to those attending, public discussions of important religious topics.

• Develop strong relations with various Anglican jurisdictions and entities.

• Expand the school’s sphere of influence beyond those worshiping in the Anglican tradition.

• Produce a podcast on important religious topics.

The school operates with some formality, as required by federal law. For example, there are explicit written policies on conflicts of interest and non-discrimination. The IRS 501(c)3 status is pending, and CFM is allowed to seek financial support and donors are entitled to treat contributions as tax-deductible. This is a small organization, with a very frugal management. Nonetheless, CFM does have some financial needs, including;

• mandatory general advertisement of our non-discrimination policy

• lease of teleconference channels for distance students

• computer equipment

• ordinary office expenses

• printing expenses

• costs associated with putting on public events and seminars

• attending AMiA Winter Conference and other similar meetings of Anglicans and Evangelicals.

These items are, for the most part, minimal in size. Our guiding philosophy is to do as much as we can in-house. Our brochures, as an example, are written, designed, and printed on personal equipment. Our officers serve without salary and the principle expense is compensating instructors and developing curriculum. If, after prayer and reflection, you feel led to make a contribution, please make the check payable to “Christian Foundations for Ministry, Inc.” You may forward the donation to the contact address for CFM,Inc. in the column to your left.

Thanks for your kind consideration and may God pour out all of his richest blessings on you in this season when we look forward to the glorious coming of our Lord and Savior!

Patrick Lynch

Non-Discrimination Policy

The CFM, Inc. school admits students of any race, color, national origin, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.