Evangelical Patristics

Good article in Christianity Today on the rise of Patristics and interest in the early Church history (roughly 0-600 CE).  This is standard fare and has been for some decades now in more so-called mainline Protestant denominations, particularly since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and the rise of the ecumenical movement (including the Patristic Eastern Orthodox Churches).

But evangelicalism so far has been resistant to this tradition and history within the  Christian faith–for fear of being too “Catholic” it would seem.

Evangelicalism was a product of the modern world.  In the breakdown of the modern world-the post-colonized world rising esp. for evangelicalism, esp. the rise of Asia and Africa,the postmodern world taking over in the West–evangelicalism has to come to grips with a re-invention of itself for a new age.

The beauty of Patristic writing, ancient liturgical texts and rites, and the deep love of the Fathers for the Scriptures (reading the Scriptures was not invented by Protestantism!!!) all are calling to certain segments of evangelicals, particularly younger ones no longer interested in long apologia based on trying to argue for the “reasonableness” of Christianity–a classic hallmark of the modernist mindset.

The Patristic era had a much stronger sense of the community than the overly individualist strains of modern/late modern evangelicalism (“me and Jesus” kinda stuff).  These Evangelicals are also learning, I believe, that the Reformation was really about a reaction to the Late Medieval Church (800-1500) not the Patristic Church or its theology.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer the great Lutheran theologian wrote in his Letters from Prison before his execution under the Nazis, that the future of Protestantism lay with Church Fathers like Tertullian (2nd century CE).  Looks like his prediction is starting to come true, though I doubt in the way he envisioned.

Published in: on February 9, 2008 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Church of England next Episcopal Church?

Story here from London Times.

The Church of England is facing rifts comparable to those that have split the US Church after hundreds of leading evangelical clergy were told to take “courageous action” and invite bishops from outside their own dioceses to do “irregular” ordinations. Members of the influential Reform grouping were told at their conference in London today that they must not be afraid to opt out of the care of their own diocesan bishop if he was a liberal or was refusing to ordain conservative evangelical clergy for their parishes. The advice mirrors practice in the US, where conservatives have even had their own bishops ordained by evangelical Archbishops from Global South provinces such as Uganda. English evangelicals are not as yet prepared to go that far, but the 1,700 Reform members were told by new chairman, the Rev Rod Thomas, that they must prepare to be courageous in the face of the Church of England’s “increasingly liberal agenda.” Mr Thomas also called on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to recall invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference issued to pro-gay US bishops, warning that “failure to do this will seal the division of the Communion.” Increasing numbers of Church leaders, including the Primate of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola and the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, are threatening to boycott the ten-yearly conference if Dr Williams does not act more decisively against The Episcopal Church of the US. Mr Thomas warned that without action from Dr Williams, his role would be left “in tatters” and fractures would spread rapidly through the Church of England.

The break-up of the Anglican Communion becomes clearer and clearer.  The last Protestant church to hold off the tendency towards sectarianism within Protestantism, facing splits upon splits.

The Roman Catholic Church stays together only with the imposition of an authoritarian Vatican (a sociological survey once carried out showed the closest human political parallel to the Vatican/Curia was Stalinist Soviet Russia).  The Orthodox Churches have all splintered along ethnic lines, with racism and prejudice souring the relationships.

Williams is not going to rescind invitations to every American Bishop who voted for Gene Robinson’s consecration.  Ludicrous.  They know it won’t happen.  It creates a nice excuse for doing what they clearly want to do—get out from under episcopal control.  Why not frankly?  The institutions within the Anglican Church and other traditions more broadly, are not built for the information age, as we see from the current miasma in the Communion.

Like the fake state of Iraq, federalize the fake Communion that is Anglicanism.  Let the thing break apart.  The path of least resistance I feel would strengthen all the groups in the medium-long term (however painful and it will be painful the further splitting/breaking apart will be).

Published in: on October 18, 2007 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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