Friday, August 31, 2012

Godly Character

Christ calls us to the development of godly character (ie. Galatians 5:22).  Although this is clearly the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, here are some ways to pull down the obstacles we put up to our spiritual growth and transformation:

·         Be intentional about investing in one’s own spiritual development.

·         Be committed to handing total control of one’s life over to God.

·         Expect submission to God to involve sacrifice.

·         Realize that selflessness is victory rather than loss.

·         Know that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a faith community.

·         Seek knowledge of God as a crucial step in the growth process.

(Partial Source: The Barna Group)


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Anglican Comprehensiveness

Anglicanism in some quarters is redefining itself around what is known as Modernist Theology.  Modernist Theology sees truth as relative and considers the Apostolic witness to Truth as revealed in Scripture as potentially outmoded, depending on modern experience and knowledge.   The central feature of the modernist faith is “comprehensiveness” and “inclusiveness,” with theological barriers discounted or removed altogether.  This is very different from orthodox Anglicanism as found in the great majority of worldwide Anglicanism and as believed and expressed here at The Church of the Holy Trinity.

Anglicanism is susceptible to a modernist re-interpretation because of its history of comprehensiveness dating to the Protestant Reformation.  This, however, requires a redefinition of what we know of as true Anglican comprehensiveness.  The Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer and The Rev. Dr. John Stott, along with Mr. CS Lewis, as  Anglicanism’s foremost modern-day theologians have articulated two kinds of comprehensiveness: Principled and Unprincipled Comprehensiveness.  Classic Anglicanism is based on Principled Comprehensiveness, which insists on agreement with the biblical fundamentals of the faith and a continuity with classic English Protestant Reformation thought, while allowing liberty in issues of secondary doctrine, preference and practice. These secondary doctrines, preferences and practices are what Post-Reformation theologian Richard Hooker in forging a “Via Media” between Puritan and Catholic factions in England described as “Adiaphoa,” (Greek meaning “things indifferent”,) by which he meant those things beyond what is attested to in Scripture and is open to choice and preference. 

Modernist Theology has flourished in some quarters of Anglicanism apparently because revisionism has had an easy path in its movement from Principled to Unprincipled Comprehensiveness.
Father Rob

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dear Anglican Bloggers:
Below is a quote that a Lutheran pastor friend of mine posted on Facebook.  It goes to the core of a huge concern I have about contemporary rhetoric between modernist/progressive and orthodox/apostolic factions in both the church and society.  Conversations too often include accusations of hate and lacking compassion.  My thanks to Rick Warren, and to you, Pastor Nathan, for this insight... Fr. Rob

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Shift in Our Nation’s “Worldview”

The Rev. Rob Hartley
This country was founded under a theistic worldview, more specifically a Christian worldview, but is now navigating into her future according to the new dominant worldview, Secular Humanism?  (A worldview can be defined simply as the way we view the world and understand life.)  There is no question that this shift has occurred, and everyone, Christian and secularist alike, understand ourselves to now be a “post-Christian” society. 

What are we to make of this shift?  What are its consequences?  First of all, this without a doubt will effect (is already effecting) the course of our country (for good and for ill), its destiny, prosperity and blessedness.  Granted, the Constitution and its amendments, which are based on Christian principles and ideals, are still in place, but even those are being interpreted from the perspective of a worldview different from that under which these founding documents were created.  It would be foolish not expect a shift in many areas of our common life  like morality, ethics, economics, American religious life, education, the shape and importance of families, and, of course, politics and governance.

A salient question for us, then, is this shift in worldviews and governing ideals good for us as a nation.  The century-old Progressive Movement in our country argues yes.  Christian Conservatism, while embracing many of the positive reforms championed by Progressivism, laments the shift and say no.  Of course, both cannot be right. 

The first step in knowing the answer is to have an understanding of the worldviews themselves.  Here are three dominant features, albeit far from exhaustive, of each worldview:

The Secular Worldview:
·     A trust in ourselves and our intellect for ordering our individual and common life, with no assumption that there is anything transcendent governing our lives.  We are in control.  Morality and ethics are therefore what our experience, societal norms and personal desires call for.

·     All personal religious considerations should be excluded from moral debate, civil affairs and public education.

Therefore, the improvement of our lives and the well-being of our nation can only be by material means (since that is all there is) and through the inherent goodness that is in each of us.

The Christian Worldview
(Sometimes referred to as a Biblical Worldview)
·     Absolute moral truths exist and have their origin beyond ourselves in our sovereign Creator.

·     These truths are communicated by God to us in both natural ways (observing His creation around us) and supernatural ways (divine revelation of Scripture, the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, and God’s ultimate self-revelation of God, Jesus the Christ).

·     We know all too well of our flawed and fallen human nature, but we also know of God’s love, mercy, grace, providence and desire to redeem us from ourselves and bring us into an unencumbered relationship with Him. 

Therefore, the improvement of our lives and the well-being of our nation can only be through conformance with God’s good and perfect will for our lives individually and as a nation.

What, then, does God expect of His Church, given this unsettling shift in worldviews governing the future of our country? 
·     First, God does not expect handwringing.  Instead, He offers us a peace to be found in our unswerving trust and dependence of Him:  It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”               Deut. 31:8

·     Secondly, God calls us into a steadfast faithfulness: “Choose this day whom you will serve… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”    Joshua 24:15

·     Finally, God calls on His Church to boldly and openly stand as a witness to the Truth of the Christian Worldview and to proclaim the Good News of blessing and salvation to be found in Christ alone:  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.                                           1Peter 2:11

The Spiritual Gift of Encouragement

Romans 12:8 speaks of the spiritual Gift of Encouragement (also called the Gift of Exhortation).  The Gift of Encouragement is having a sensitivity and an attraction to those who are discouraged or struggling and involves motivating, encouraging, and consoling others as they move through the issues of this life and mature in their walk with the Lord. 

Barnabas in New Testament Scripture had the Gift of Encorurgaement.  His name actually means ‘Son of Encouragement.  Barnabas was the encourager of none other than St. Paul (Acts 9:27) and  mentor to St. Mark, the eventual author of the Gospel that bears his name.  Look at what God did with Barnabas’ Gift of Encouragement! 

How about you?  Do you have the Gift of Encouragement?  Are you attracted to those who are stuggling and feel called to walk with them through their difficulties?  Do you know how to patiently and gently push people forward through the challenges life presents to them?  

If this describes you, then you are a Barnabas.  If you do not have this gift but would like to, ask the Lord to give you this powerful and wonderful  Gift of Encouragement.                     
Fr. Rob

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Few Words on Incense

From Fr. Dan+
Like many Christian liturgical practices, the use of incense goes back to the Old Testament where it figured regularly in the worship of God. The books of Exodus and Leviticus establish what might be called the “theology of incense” and give details of the use of  incense at the altar.  In Jewish practice a brazier was located  in the tabernacle for the specific purpose of burning incense and incense was offered  in the morning and in the evening.  On the Day of Atonement  the cloud of incense served as a sign of God’s real yet mysterious presence.  In the Book of Revelation incense 1s a sign of the prayers of God’s people ascending to him, which is why the Early Church continued the practice found in Judaism.  Incense still carries all these meanings when used in the church today and has less to do with “high” or “low” church, than with theology that the worship of the Church maintains continuity with that of Israel.

“There is no liturgical practice more firmly rooted in scripture than the use of incense; the image of fire and smoke is a common one in the Bible, constantly reminding the reader of scripture of the exodus of Israel from Egypt”” (Clayton Morris, in As We Gather to Pray, p.142).
The Rev. Dan Brown is a priest at The Church of the Holy Trinity, North Augusta.

Thursday Morning Prayers for Healing / Holy Eucharist

A 10:00 am gathering in the clergy study at Holy Trinity Anglican, 160 Merovan Drive …

Gentle, informal… just a few of God’s people seeking a touch from the Lord in the middle of their busy week.  We read scripture to focus us… we pray for others… we pray for ourselves- body, mind or spirit, wherever our needs lie. Holy Oil…  God’s healing presence… bread and wine… fellowship… peace… thanksgiving… and blessing.  

That is Thursday mornings at Holy Trinity. 
Is God calling you to meet Him there?  Is He calling you to come pray for others who are there?   If so, I'll see you on Thursday

The Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus

These are three pieces of service music with which we have all become familiar; we use them every Sunday in our worship :

·   The words of the Gloria in Excelsis (Glory in the Highest) came into normal use in the church in the 11th century, but the words and form of this glorious song of praise have their roots in Jewish Temple worship during and before the time of Christ. 

·   The Sanctus is adapted from Isaiah 6:1-3,  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted...and above him were seraphs...calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his Glory.” It had been part of Jewish morning worship and became a normal part of the Christian Eucharistic liturgy in about the 4th century. 

·   It has also become the custom of the Church to attach to the end of the Sanctus what is known as the Benedictus (Blessed is He) from John 12:13.