Thursday, December 21, 2017

An Episode from the Smearing of George Bell

Others have followed the slanderous injustice done to the late Bishop George Bell by the Church of England.  So I will defer to them.  The ashes of Archbishop Cranmer is one who has done yeoman’s work on this matter.  Another I must praise is (You might want to sit down now.) the Dean of Christ Church Martyn Percy.  Some readers might remember I am not exactly a fan of him.  But I must give credit where credit is due, and his article in Christian Today is revealing and courageous.

This slice of life from the Dean is particularly revealing:

On the October 21, 2015, I had been rung by the then Secretary-General of the Archbishops' Council and of the General Synod of the Church of England, Sir William Fittall. It was Fittall who told me, over the phone, that a 'thorough investigation' had implicated Bishop George Bell in an historic sex-abuse case, and that the Church had 'paid compensation to the victim'. Fittall added that he was tipping me off, as he knew we had an altar in the Cathedral dedicated to Bell, and that Bell was a distinguished former member of Christ Church.

Fittall asked what we would do, in the light of the forthcoming media announcements. I explained that Christ Church is an academic institution, and we tend to make decisions based on evidence, having first weighed and considered its quality. Fittall replied that the evidence was 'compelling and convincing', and that the investigation into George Bell has been 'lengthy, professional and robust'. I asked for details, as I said I could not possibly make a judgement without sight of such evidence. I was told that such evidence could not be released. So, Christ Church kept faith with Bell, and the altar, named after him, remains in exactly the same spot it has occupied for over fifteen years, when it was first carved.

And good on Christ Church Oxford for that.  But shame on the Church of England.  From this episode we see the sorry smear they were engaged in: telling people they had “compelling and convincing” evidence against Bell, but without revealing it, and now we know that evidence was very far from convincing.

Yet, on the basis that flimsy, puffed-up evidence, George Bell’s good name was trashed and removed from a number of monuments and institutions.  One may suspect there were motivations behind this, such as posterior covering, that had little to do with evidence.

People are pushed to resign over truly “compelling and convincing” allegations of sexual abuse and rightly so.  People who smear good men, even good dead men, on the basis of flimsy evidence and uncorroborated allegations should resign as well. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Bishop of London: “Safeguarding is at the heart of the Gospel.”

No, it’s not. 

In fact, the most cursory knowledge of history and of current events informs that believing and preaching the Gospel is a good way to get killed or at least blackballed.  Anyone who preaches the Gospel and insists on the orthodox preaching of the Gospel by clergy has a snowball's chance of becoming a bishop in today’s Church of England, token flying bishops excepted . . . for now.

To be fair, Sarah Mullally was referring to churches safeguarding the young and vulnerable from abuse.  Certainly, churches have important roles to play in that regard.  But is safeguarding “at the heart of the Gospel”?


Friday, December 15, 2017

The Rapid and Open Development of Christology – Ignatius

A myth pushed by popular and once prestigious media is that orthodox church teaching on Christ is practically an invention of Constantine and some shadowy Magisterium.  Such revision of history transforms the Council of Nicaea into an incense-filled room more intent on suppressing the truth or inventing truth than in guarding it and propagating it.

Yet the truth of the matter is that church teaching on Christology developed rapidly long before Nicaea and the rest of the ecumenical councils.  Really this development began with the risen Christ teaching the Apostles about himself from the scriptures before the Ascension.  And the Christological teaching of the Apostles and their successors wasn’t done in the shadows but in the churches and even at times in the streets.  That is clear not only from the New Testament but also from writings of the Apostolic and later Fathers.  In letters and sermons read and preached to congregations, we can see that catholic Christology developed rapidly and openly.

Thus began the Patristics paper I was working on when I was not blogging here.  (Sorry I almost disappeared for a while, but priorities….)  With Christmas nearing, we will be sure to see more rubbish that God becoming man – that baby in the manger being God Incarnate – was not a marvelous loving act of God but an invention of the later church.  So now is a good time to note that the church got it right very early: that baby was both God and man, the Christ.

Perhaps the best source on that in the generation after the apostles and the writing of what became the New Testament is St. Ignatius.  As he was being led on his long trip to the lions and martyrdom early in the 2nd Century, he wrote a number of letters to churches, of which we have six.  Impending death can aid candor, and that seemed to be the case with Ignatius.  Among the subjects about which he was very frank was the deity and manhood of Christ.  Note that the six letters addressed whole congregations, not just church leaders.

From my paper:
John’s Gospel was the most clear and developed of the four in proclaiming the deity of Christ.  His pupil Ignatius is even more straightforward.  To the Ephesians, he repeatedly calls Jesus “our God” and even writes that it is “God’s blood” that saves them and stirs them to sanctification.  He also calls Jesus “our God” when writing the church at Rome, and in begging the Romans not to intervene to prevent his martyrdom he asks, “Let me imitate the Passion of my God.”  To the Smyrnaeans, he praises “Jesus Christ, the God who has granted you such wisdom” and later calls him “the Christ God.”

         At the same time, he assertively teaches the other side of the Incarnation – the humanity of Christ.  He did not give room to those who diminish either the deity or humanity of Christ and was especially eloquent in teaching both sides of the Incarnation to the Ephesian church:

There is only one physician – of flesh yet spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnate, genuine life in the midst of death, sprung from Mary as well as God, first subject to suffering then beyond it – Jesus Christ our Lord. [7]

The heresy of Docetism, that taught that Jesus only seemed to be a man, goaded Ignatius to be every bit as adamant about the manhood of Christ as he was about the deity of Christ. To the Trallians, he wrote that Jesus “was really born, ate, and drank; was really persecuted under Pontius Pilate; was really crucified and died, . . . was really raised from the dead . . . apart from whom we have no genuine life.”

Thus just a decade or two after the death of the last Apostle, St. John, Ignatius got it that Jesus Christ was completely God from eternity and completely man from his conception and birth.

And that is the theme of Christmas, is it not?  That babe in the manger was Very God of Very God and “the Word made flesh” for us and for our salvation.  If one was blessed enough to attend a Christ-mass celebrated by a church father, one likely to hear this, the Incarnation, preached.


It just so happens that Augustine’s preaching of the Incarnation on Christmas Day will be the subject of a talk I will give on St. John’s Day, December 27th in Texas.  Get ahold of me if you want more details.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

About Pope Francis Tinkering with the Lord’s Prayer

As if Pope Francis has not committed enough enormities, now he wants to tinker with translations of the Lord’s Prayer.  By far the best I’ve read on this situation comes from that prickly scholar John Hunwicke here and here, and I will defer to him.  Personally, he increased my education concerning the Lord’s Prayer.

He points out that the exact meaning of some of the Lord’s Prayer is a bit of a mystery, the meaning of “our daily bread” being one example.  And a man with any humility would be hesitant to nail down the “correct” meaning by altering a received rendering.

Of course, that excludes Pope Francis.

Fr. Hunwicke continues,
My second reason for making no change is pastoral. Back in the 1970s, we in the Church of England did indeed experiment with 'modern' translations of the Pater noster. Those experimental forms are now, I think, rarely used. The reason is: the clergy discovered that among infrequent church-goers, including the house-bound sick and elderly, and those attending Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals, and the Midnight Mass brigade, the Lord's Prayer was the only formula they knew. Any other liturgical memories they had lingering from their childhoods had been rendered out-of-date by the liturgical revolutions of the 1960s. Was it 'pastoral' to deprive such people of the only remaining bit of a worship-experience which was in the least familiar to them ... which had any sort of purchase upon their memories?

In his second post, he focuses on the clause Francis wants to mangle. Hunwicke notes that the meaning of “temptation” in the Lord’s Prayer is not what most think it is; it likely refers more to extreme testing such as persecution more than everyday temptation to sin.  Francis’ proposal misses that.  Therefore,

… in my opinion, PF is proposing a revision which is not, as he appears to have been told, a revised translation but a radical change in the meaning of the Greek original. With sorrow, I have to say that this new example of his gigantic self-confidence does not surprise me.

He then makes interesting observations concerning Pope Francis and his selection. But at this point, I will urge you to go read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

A Reminder: Franken Stole His Way Into the Senate

With Al Franken widely expected to announce his resignation from the U.S. Senate today, now is a good time to remember that he should never have become a Senator in the first place.  He, George Soros, felons, and an army of DemocRATS stole his first “election” in 2008.

To the annoyance of some, I covered this back then.  One can find a sample of that here.

It is interesting that in all the TV news coverage I’ve seen so far, I cannot remember his first “election” to the Senate being mentioned as even controversial.  That is a bit important concerning his background, is it not?  If one is such a cretin to subvert democracy by stealing an election, one is capable of just about anything . . . including stealing sexual favors.

Elections have consequences.  Stolen elections have worse consequences.  Al Franken is surely Exhibit A in that regard.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Why the AMiE Ordinations are Necessary

The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) will hold its first ordination service Thursday in London.  Which begs the question: are these ordinations outside the Church of England necessary?

Yes for a number of reasons, but one is enough – orthodox traditionalists, either evangelical or Anglo-Catholic, are less and less welcome among the clergy in the Church of England.  Oh you mossback orthodox laity, of which there are many, do keep sending in those offerings please.  But if you are called to holy orders…

Is there a single robustly orthodox Church of England diocesan bishop anymore?  I’m aware of none.  And more and more candidates for holy orders are having experiences like one told in the Times:

One was blocked from ordination because he expressed his conviction that every church leader should believe and teach that Jesus is the only way to be saved.  He was told that he didn’t have a broad enough understanding of the different traditions in the Church of England.

Related is an excellent dissection of Libchurch “dialogue” from once CofE Anglo-Papalist John Hunwicke:

Their idea of 'discussion' or 'dialogue' meant them shouting abuse until their foes fell silent. They demanded that we 'hear their experience' purely as a preliminary to getting out their cudgels. They would never engage in rational argument because, happy pantomaths, they already knew every answer. They had made bullying into a fine art. To disagree with them was but to manifest one's own psychological problems - one's phobias and hang-ups and prejudices. What defences had we, or the methods by which Divinity had hitherto been done on the banks of the Isis or even of the Cam, against this ruthless and Stalinist totalitarianism and its Dahlek-like readiness to ex-ter-min-ate?

Yes, “exterminate” is a strong word.  But robustly orthodox Church of England clergy are at the very least an endangered species in several dioceses thanks to apostate bishops who will not have them.  That’s what “inclusiveness” looks like.

So although I enthusiastically support orthodox ministry in the Church of England, an outside strategy is necessary as well.  In some areas of the U.K., there is hardly much choice about it any more.