Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 12 June 2019

Sue Wallace Precentor Sue Smoke – Part 1
Smoke – Part 2
“In this Pentecostal time of year it seemed a really good time to talk about incense, which seems to me to be a bit like the Marmite (you either love it or you hate it!) of the liturgical world!”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church A Church that cares for Survivors?

Michael Fitzpatrick The Episcopal Café False Gospels?
“Many of my fellow Anglicans do not seem as excited as I am about the upcoming Lambeth Conference…”

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Kate
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Kate

Fitzpatrick hopes Lambeth will concentrate on the Gospels rather than Resolutions but I fear he hopes in vain because most attendees won’t see the gathering as a success unless this generation makes it self-important resolutions like past generations. Bring together a group based on status and the emphasis is always going to be on that status rather than the Gospels.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The first comment below Stephen Parsons’ piece on Surviving Church says “brilliant”. Almost, I think. One points where I disagree strongly with Stephen is this: “If any holders of high office in the Church from the past are shown to be guilty of an offence, it is right for the current holder of that same office to do public penance for those misdeeds” For me this sins-of-the-fathers stuff is too Old Testament. He concludes that the underlying problem is power and rightly talks about our Saviour’s repeated comments on this but stops short of the obvious conclusion that an episcopare… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

As I understand Stephen’s blog, he is not saying that that a bishop/dean/archdeacon etc. is personally responsible for the offences committed by a predecessor. Rather, he/she is inevitably associated with previous holders of that office and carrying the same title, and therefore is the appropriate person to express the Church’s remorse. This is not about the office holder’s personal guilt, but about facilitating healing for victims and making it clear to all that the Church does not tolerate or condone this sort of conduct.

Kate
Guest
Kate

In what is that different to the Old Testament concept of sins of the father? Fathers were patriarchs, heads of the family or tribe.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Are you dismissing the principle that office-holders should apologise and attempt to make restitution for the offences of their predecessors, solely on the ground that it reminds you of a verse in the Old Testament? Have you any other reason?

Kate
Guest
Kate

Stephen though doesn’t say apologise or make restitution but talks about penance. Apologies and restitution benefit victims, but penance is self-centered. Theologically penance for the sins of predecessors is wrong.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

The whole passage is here: ‘The failure of bishops and other clergy to protect the victims of sexual abuse is a deep wound as well as a tragedy. Even if the current generation of leaders are not directly complicit in the offences, they wear the same robes, they have the same titles as those who are seen to have failed in the tasks of protection of the vulnerable. Just as children have to carry on their backs, for good and for ill, the notoriety of their parents, so the occupants of the highest offices in the Church have in some… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Excellent remarks. Office-holders often make amends for the mistakes or failings of previous office-holders, precisely because of the official nature of their incumbency. Not to mention, some people love beating up on the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) while failing to recognize that the collection of books it contains were written hundreds of years apart, by different authors with different backgrounds and agendas. And the more recent books view God differently than the older books. A prophet praising someone who acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with their God is not the same kind of author as the one condemning… Read more »

Andrew
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Andrew

I presume that when Stephen Parsons talks about public penance, he means exactly that. A number of American Catholic bishops have done public penance for the sins of the Church by removing the symbols of their office and prostrating themselves before the altar: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/02/22/value-public-penance-age-clerical-abuse-mass-incarceration-and-metoo There are some unanswered questions here (in particular, how far it’s appropriate for penance to be followed by reconciliation when clerical abuse is still an ongoing issue, indeed an open wound) but it’s surely an idea worth discussing rather than dismissing out of hand. The question is, how can the symbolism be given its proper weight… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Andrew that is my understanding too

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Over a year ago I suggested that, in order to express penitence for abuses committed by church personnel, the archbishops allow survivors to take their place for the Holy Week and Easter rituals and ceremonies. Ordained survivors could preside where a priest was needed, but there are observances that don’t need clergy. This is the kind of costly grace that is needed. As Andrew Graystone recently wrote, survivors and victims need their identity and dignity restored. Church dignitaries allowing victims to take their place and their honour, however briefly, would send a message that they are serious. It wold also… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Thank you for this. I think we are clear the penance is not something ‘self-centred’ – which is, in this context, sinful. Penance is a kind of spiritual/relational physio – restoring/building up Godly and social right-relating. That institutions need ways to express this as well as communities and individuals is the context of this discussion.

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

After reading Stephen Parsons article, I grow in the conviction that if truth, justice and humanity does not prevail, then the Church of England – as an institution – is in danger of sowing the seeds of its own destruction, and thus in danger of destroying itself. This conviction has grown recently, not least because of the words of Revd Nick Flint, Richard Scorer and Revd Graham Sawyer at the IICSA hearings: Revd Nick Flint “I witnessed the closing statement made on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council at the Inquiry’s Chichester hearing. They seemed to be saying that although they… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

I think that is how they behave.”

“It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed.”

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Gee, that sounds like every other human institution I’ve ever witnessed in action. As one example, I’d say the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, or the contemporaneous struggles between the nascent scientific movement and the Roman Catholic Church were about power, more so than sola scriptura or three-legged stools, or geocentrism or Venus undergoing phase changes like the Moon does. In the case of astronomy, the officials of the Roman Catholic Church didn’t care so much about which heavenly bodies orbited which so much as if the (aides to the) Pope says the Sun and the planets orbit the Earth, then by… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

“Can we imagine a Church where the values of mercy, gentleness, purity and peace-making are dominant? No, we find it hard because the contrary values of control, power and domination are so strong in the institution we know and try to serve”

~ Stephen Parsons

Kate
Guest
Kate

“After reading Stephen Parsons article, I grow in the conviction that if truth, justice and humanity does not prevail, then the Church of England – as an institution – is in danger of sowing the seeds of its own destruction, and thus in danger of destroying itself.” While you and I don’t agree on the precise nature of the injustice, I agree with the general thrust of your statement, Richard. I am reminded of this BBC piece about Ed Sheeran. The specifics are very different but the parallel is the lack of focus on the experience of those in need… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

…and “the lack of focus and experience of those in need of assistance”

As I see it, the Church of England – as an institution – is in fundamental breach of the Duty of Care.

In the so-called ‘real world’, if a serious breach of the Duty of Care causes death then that institution can be closed down.

Kate
Guest
Kate

We both know that doesn’t happen. I have a friend who was repeatedly raped by staff in a psychiatric hospital but it is still open.

Jane Chevous
Guest

Just found this thread via Stephen’s blog. Responding as a survivor who supports survivors and was formally a DYO with safeguarding responsibilities. I disagree that it is an issue of professional experience. I do not have statistics, but many of the safeguarding personnel I have met have good professional experience in social work, education, police etc. It’s an issue of independence. Their role includes advising the Bishop, so inevitably the perspective becomes one of how to defend the institution. We need the independent body to lead investigations and advocate with survivors. I agree that penance could be powerful and positive,… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

About as good as mine. I’ve been offering my services re. pastoral care care of survivors, clergy training, and planning services for survivors ever since completing my MPhil on pastoral care of survivors in 1998. The Church has never been interested.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

Incense was utilized by some American Anglicans (Episcopalians) as an adjunct to religious rites from at least the seventeenth century, perhaps as early as 1610. (Early American colonists even exported domestically-made incense to markets in Europe!) And while the custom of using incense on occasion apparently went out of fashion around 1800 in both Old World and New World Anglicanism, American Episcopalians pioneered the reintroduction of this ancient Christian usage in the 1820s, long before the British Ritualists.
Kurt Hill, Brooklyn, NY

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

I am baffled as to why Pentecost seems to be a good time for Sue Wallace to talk about incense. Surely, Epiphany is more apposite. There again, it would be nice to have been told something I (and I suspect many others) didn’t know already.

Richard
Guest
Richard

I was reading an article by a well-known Evangelical minister a couple years ago. He had been appointed to the parish I grew up in; in my youth it was an Anglo-Catholic parish. He shocked his readers by saying he used incense, having inherited a supply along with a thurible. There were about 30 comments to his article. Almost all of them said something similar to “don’t forget your allergy pills” or “watch out for the stained glass windows”. Incense seems to be an unfamiliar topic for many Episcopalians of the Evangelical stripe.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

I wonder if there is a strain of docetism in many evangelicals? There seems to be an aversion to physical expressions of faith (except, strangely enough, to waving hands in the air – nothing wrong with that, but it seems inconsistent). Evangelical theology places much stress on the Cross, and yet it is very rare in evangelical congregations to see people crossing themselves.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

So how then did this tradition get the label ‘happy clappy’? As to crossing yourself many more folk do these days but it was always what the catholics did of course – that was the issue rather than the supposed physical inhibitions of Protestants.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

Unfortunately, most American Evangelicals know very little about their own history. Before they had many Roman Catholics to bully, they had us Episcopalians, whom they deemed “Rome’s sister.” They considered the image of the Holy Cross to be “the sign of the Devil.” To make the sign of the cross as Anglicans did (with the thumb on the forehead) was tracing “the mark of the Beast.” Pipe organs were “the Devil’s bagpipes,” and vestments of any kind (particularly the surplice) were “the rags of popery.” They refused to celebrate either Christmas or Easter, since they deemed them “pagan festivals.” –Kurt… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Not only do most American Evangelicals seem ignorant of Christian history, but, in my opinion, they also are eager to adopt Jewish practices in their zeal to convert Jews, when they could simply adopt existing mainstream (dare I say small-o “orthodox”) Christian practices.
Thus, they have Christian seders. To me, that’s called the Mass or Eucharist.
Or they have a Christian Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement. Ash Wednesday, anyone?
They’re more willing to take from a religion they don’t really understand, rather than, God forbid!, look to their own roots.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

Yes, quite true; very perceptive, Peter.–Kurt Hill, Brooklyn, NY

Chris Harwood
Guest
Chris Harwood

Before one gets too high and mighty about Episcopalians keeping tradition better, let’s not forget that Episcopalians have created “Pirate-charists”, “Clown-charists”, U-2-charists, and Beyonce-charists to try and keep people interested. If Christian tradition is enough, why did Bishop Budde have Chinese Lion Dancers and a couple of Native American shamans smudge the evil away from her ordination? Conservatives are hardly the only ones mixing religions. I have to admit that, to me, a Seder meal seems much more like the Biblical story than standing in line, or kneeling in groups,for a thimble or sip of wine and a cracker from… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

You know, Brother Harwood, that we Christians have a long history of “baptizing” aspects of other cultures and their spiritual expressions as they are meaningful to the folks hearing the Gospel – not least aligning Christmas with Saturnalia and incorporating Teutonic trees. We might hear from our Indigenous Christian siblings about their incorporation of smudging, or from our Chinese Christian siblings about incorporating lion dancers, before we just assume syncretism.

Chris Harwood
Guest
Chris Harwood

Christianity has indeed “Christianized” certain days, but I’m sure you realize I was responding to the comments above that equated stupidity and a reek of “Counterfeit Christainity” etc. with not following TEC’s and other mainline customs like a liturgy or BCP. Make up your mind, if tradtions like the liturgy and the BCP make Anglicans better than other Christians, then what right have they to take that gift/blessing, etc. and make a mockery of it with “AAARRRRH Fatherrrrrr” or a shaman? How can having a Liturgy that you twist into knots, ignore, or spit on, be better than not having… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Possibly, although I suspect that, since evangelicalism began in opposition to Rome, many (not all) are simply put off by anything associated with high church worship. Which leaves other Christians with a repertoire closed to most evangelicals. Just think how attendances could rise if only more non-evangelical churches could be persuaded to combine such sensory delights with LCD screens and music written after WW2!

Tim Chesterton
Guest

My personal attitude toward high church worship is that I have no problem with it if it’s helpful to people, but it’s not helpful to me. I have a lot of evangelical friends who feel the same way as I do. I just came back from a clergy conference in our diocese of Edmonton and a number of evangelically oriented people were crossing themselves just like everyone else.

I suspect that these days a lot of people are making a lot less fuss about secondary issues.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

That is a modern, sensible Evangelical stance to take, Tim. It harkens back to an older strain of thought during Evangelicalism’s youth. The Wesleys, I would argue, were Catholic Evangelicals and they had no problem with High Church worship. Unfortunately, when left to itself, Pietistic Evangelicalism—given its obsessions with personal holiness and purity—has generally been a schismatic influence within North American Anglicanism. It was only after the Methodist Schism of 1779-84 that Anglican Evangelicals adopted anti-sacramentalist and anti-ritualist attitudes. –Kurt Hill, Brooklyn, NY

CRS
Guest
CRS

“anti-sacramentalist and anti-ritualist” — these of course being different, and differently appraised as significant.

Indeed one can see two distinct schools regarding these two distinct emphases. Sacramentalists often viewed ritualists as obscuring of their chief concern.

As is so often the case, it is easy to make our age/desires a wrong projection onto earlier ones.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Possibly. Of course, High Church worship in England in the Wesleys’ day was not the same as Anglo-Catholic worship a few generations later. And I would argue that the Wesleys were strongly focussed on personal holiness – John taught that perfection in love (‘so full of love there’s no room for anything else’, as I recently heard it described) was possible and should be prayed for fervently. ‘Take away our power of sinning’ wrote Charles in a (now rarely sung) verse of ‘Jesu, Lover of My Soul’.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

I agree with you, Tim, (and with Prof. Seitz ) that High Anglican practice has differed throughout the centuries. As Rector of Christ Church Savannah, Parson John Wesley wore the prescribed vestments of the time, celebrated weekly Eucharists, and promoted frequent auricular Confessions. After 1784 the American Methodists became more like the other Protestant “sectaries” of the time regarding these practices. Apparently the term “High Church” in the UK has certain connotations of fussiness which it does not have here in the USA (though I must admit copious lace on a surplice or alb is a nineteenth century Italianate import… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I prefer sacramental and liturgical worship ( though i love the daily office too) but this doesnt have to be “high church”in a fussy or over ritualised way..You can have “simple catholic worship” …the French church does it rather well. Once upon a time (in my youth b1949) many many churches were “prayer book catholic” ..catholic teaching, reverent services..perhaps a bit over restrained for todays taste…but it seemed to me a fine example of the anglican ethos.

CRS
Guest
CRS

My wife and I worship in the French church. I could not agree more. Simple, direct, serious preaching, non-fussy. The thurible gets brought out about 3 times a year. By “anglican high church” standards the thurifer would flunk; not enough pizazz. The priests work extremely hard and don’t have much time for showy vestments. There is an admirable kind of modesty and reserve, in my experience. We just lost the senior man. What a funeral. Took many weeks for people to stop tearing up at the mention of his name.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Perry, as an evangelical Anglican I engage in sacramental and liturgical worship every Sunday. We celebrate Holy Communion and we use the official liturgy of our church to do it. Being evangelical doesn’t mean I can’t be sacramental and liturgical. Charles Simeon had a high regard for the sacrament of Holy Communion and preached a series of sermons ‘on the excellence of the liturgy’. J.C. Ryle stressed ‘going to the table’ as a vital means of grace. And when the innovation of a Sunday evening communion service (apparently a more convenient hour for servants and working class worshippers) was introduced… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Im glad to hear that Tim. Many evangelicals in the Church of England have become far less liturgical and sacramental in the last few decades..and sit light to Common Worship or liturgical worship at all in some places. The old Prayer Book Evangelicalism ( which matched the Prayer Book Catholic ethos) is pretty rare now i judge.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

PS I was really trying to make the point that you can have simple catholic worship that avoids the overtones of overritualised “high church”…a term i try to avoid. My former parishoner the M.P. Frank Field likes to call himself “a low church Anglo-Catholic”…

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Nice, Perry! I think a lot of my RC friends are actually ‘low church Catholics’ – i.e. they embrace their sacramental and liturgical heritage but they don’t make a big fuss about it. I’m fond of that approach.

CRS
Guest
CRS

I agree with you both.

Come to think of it, I have never met a ‘high church’ catholic. They see that as an anglican affectation. Reading Figaro this morning they had the story about the first mass in ND after the fire. The clergy all had to wear “des casques de chantier” (construction helmets). I can just see the anglican version. It would have to something “high church” about it. Not the basic plastic model.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Me too…i think it is a pity some anglo-catholics in England are returning to eastward facing altars,lacey albs ,maniples and birettas.. it seems to parallel a “reforming the reform “tendency in RCism…using the Extraordinary form and Cardinal Burke in his cappa magna..!

Tim Chesterton
Guest

James, evangelicalism did not ‘begin in opposition to Rome’. It began in the late 1730s against a background of formal, conventional churchgoing. The early evangelicals were dissatisfied with a religion that consisted only of attending church and being a good person. They thought that fell far short of what the New Testament describes as life in the Spirit.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Depends on your definition of “evangelical.” Since many of the first reformers held to the key elements (biblicalism, salvation by faith, substitution, etc), I was taking it right back to the Reformation.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Most evangelical historians of the movement (eg. Mark Noll, Bruce Hindmarsh) accept the continuity with the Reformation but assert that evangelicalism’s stress on conversion and the ‘heart strangely warmed’ experience, plus the priority on evangelism, make it a different animal from what came before.

Richard
Guest
Richard

I’ve noticed that many evangelical churches don’t have a cross (much less candlesticks) displayed. The cathedral in Sydney removed the cross over the table (which now is rolled out of sight unless the “meeting” is Holy Communion). Even a bare cross is considered idolatry. The Reformed Episcopal Church in the U.S. was founded in opposition to vestments and other high church practices that were creeping into the Episcopal Church. These days, their bishops, even the presiding bishop, wears regalia that rivals Rome. Again, “nothing wrong with that, but it seems inconsistent.”

Kate
Guest
Kate

Personally I find displays, let alone veneration (including signing the cross), of the instrument of Christ’s torture very distasteful. That’s quite separate to vestments, although I would prefer money wasn’t wasted on lavish attire

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“Distasteful” certainly; better to say it’s outrageous, which is, of course, precisely the point, and why I proudly do it (except on the many occasions that I attend evangelical worship: outrage is one thing, but don’t want to stir that pot).

Richard
Guest
Richard

Don’t most Christians consider the cross — the “Easter cross”, without a corpus — to be the symbol of Christ’s victory over death? Splendid vestments, like beautiful church buildings and lovely music, allow us to worship “in the beauty of holiness.” I visited a website of a church which billed itself “in the Anglican tradition”. There were many, many photographs, but not a cross or candlestick to be seen. They did, however, boast of 93 magnificent stained glass windows, air conditioning and all-wool carpeting.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

Yes, the lack of such ornaments in Evangelical churches goes back centuries, at least in America. The American Episcopal/Anglican use of crosses, crucifixes, incense, rosaries, statues, vestments, etc., goes back centuries, too, long before “Ritualism.” Sydney Anglicanism has a different history. A project of The Eclectic Society, an inter-denominational Evangelical group, Australian colonization’s purpose was not to construct a “City on a Hill” utopia as in Massachusetts. Rather it was to rid the Mother Country of its criminal miscreants. Thus the “flogging parsons” of NSW religious lore. The hatred has been returned by many Sydneysiders, who burned down the first… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Part 2 was much more informative, and I certainly learned something new from the comment that you can buy an electric thurible which is claimed to be healthier for people (like me) who suffer from chronic bronchitis.

I was somewhat bemused by the suggestion that you could make your own thurible from an old corncob or fruit tin, punch holes in it and add chains – for use in church?? Surely any church which uses incense should be able to acquire a proper thurible. There’s plenty of good advice in part 2 about how it should be correctly used.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I love the smell of incense in the morning ( : “Let my prayer be set forth in your presence as incense.” (Ps, 141:2) from the Service of Light (Canada.BAS). The R.C. church uses asperges and incense at every mass of Christian burial here. I’ve attached a link to The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, see paragraph 276 on incensation.

https://d2wldr9tsuuj1b.cloudfront.net/15495/documents/2016/11/girm.pdf