Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I like the the Episcopal/Anglican Church

What thoughts enter your mind when you pass by an Episcopal/Anglican church?

Thoughts that I used to have ranged from weird to liberal and even non-Christian. I had assumed that they had thrown out the truth of the gospel and were attending a church out of a routine or ritual. These thoughts stemmed from the fact that I was opposed to women ministers, thought that the church believed a fake gospel, and didn't understand why someone would want to repeat prayers, sayings, etc... from a book sorta like a chant.

As I attended college, my view of this denomination began to soften somewhat as I began to read scholars such as NT Wright, John Stott, and Alister McGrath. They all attend/work in the Church of England. I however still was unsure about the church until I attended an episcopal church in Ft. Worth one Sunday about two years ago called St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. I didn't understand much of the worship service but 2 very specific things stuck out to me. First, I was surprised at how much scripture was read during the service. I had thought that these people had a very low view of scripture, but based upon the way it was used during the service that was not the case. Second, I was surprised at how much time was spent in prayer. We prayed for the sick, for the lost, for Christians, for the country, for the president, and for the unity of the church. This church read more scripture and spent more time in prayer on one Sunday morning service, than my church did in almost a month.

I soon went out and purchased a Book of Common Prayer. While I still don't understand exactly how to use it, I have found the prayers in it amazing. I have memorized this prayer and have been saying it every day. Its found under 16. The Mission of the Church. The prayer is

O God of all the nations of the earth: Remember the multitudes who have been created in thine image but have not known the redeeming work of our Savior Jesus Christ; and grant that, by the prayers and labors of thy holy Church, they may be brought to know and worship thee as thou has been revealed in thy Son; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I would suggest that before you label a church or think that it teaches a false gospel, that you get to know what goes on there (maybe even attend a service).

A few good resources of the Episcopal Church can be found below.

The Book of Common Prayer Online

Anglican Communion
Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail
The Study of Anglicanism

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I don't care about the doctrine of Scripture (well sorta)

Recently I was going back and thinking through some of the books I have read on the biblical interpretation and what Christians believe concerning the Bible. No little writing has been produced, critiqued, praised, and caused so much division as the beliefs one holds concerning scripture. Many of you might not have any idea what I'm talking about, but have heard terms such as "inerrant," "infallible," "inspired," and the like. Many denominations have very specific statements on the Bible. It might be helpful to define some of these words used to describe what is called the doctrine of Scripture.

inerrant- without error
inspired- divine guidance
infallible- not able to fail

Throughout the last year I have come to a conclusion about these words and the doctrine of Scripture. I REALLY DON'T CARE. In my opinion, the best definition of one's view of scripture comes from comes from Scot McKnight in his book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.

In this book he recounts a meeting he had with a student. And rather than me messing up what was said, I will simply quote from his book. The following is found on page 94-95.

A student sat in my office one day when he turned our conversation to the right set of beliefs about the Bible. His observation: "Why does my youth pastor ask me all the time if I still believe in the 'inerrancy' of the Bible?" I was about to explain to him the history of the doctrine of Scripture and the battles Christians have wages over the Bible when he interrupted me with these words (and this is how he said it): "You know, Scot, I really don't give a damn what my youth pastor's view of the Bible is because he doesn't give one frickin' dime to the poor and he's never met a homeless person in his life and he didn't even know about Darfur when I mentioned it to him at Christmas." This student was obviously a bit worked up, so I sat back to listen.

He continued: "My view of the Bible is this: I read it often--not every day-- and I do what I think God tells me to do. I don't make much money, but I give" --he was about to tell me what percent he gave to the poor but stopped himself because he thought it might be self-congratulatory. Then he asked a pointed question, a good one: "What good is 'inerrancy' if you don't do what God says?" Then he asked a question that shook me a bit: "If I do what God says, doesn't that show that my view of the Bible is the right one?"

Many churches and denominations make one's view of scripture the litmus text for orthodoxy or whether or not someone gets tagged with the dreaded (and many times unfounded) label of "liberal." These churches and denominations can then by labeling a church/person/denomination as unorthodox or liberal, can dismiss them entirely without taking seriously what they are saying. Sadly all of this back and forth and labeling is an exercise in missing the point.

A correct doctrine of scripture MUST include action. So instead of arguing definitions or participating in a labeling of churches/denominations/people, maybe we should be more focused on doing what Scripture says.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some thoughts on Philemon 4-7…

Philemon 4-7

4)I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,
5) because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;
6)and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake.
7) For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Teaching scripture (Galatians and the New Perspective)

I have been teaching through the book of Galatians and I have come to a conclusion. Even though I have reached a pretty firm position that the New Perspective of Paul on Paul makes better sense of the text, I have found myself not teaching all the intricate details.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Junia or Junias? Why the letter "s" makes a huge difference part 2

Wow it has been a while and I'm not even sure if anyone remembers my previous post. Basically it is my journey which led me to the conclusion that the Bible does allow women to serve in ANY position in the church. Gender does not play a role in these decisions. In my last post, I pointed out the contradiction in the way I selectively understood the passages of scripture.