Thursday, July 10, 2008

Episcopal Church Website Affirms Orthodox Christology

I see that The Episcopal Church has a new website. It certainly looks better than the older version, and it’s easier to navigate.

One of the things I find interesting about this new website (and perhaps this was already there before the makeover – I don’t know) are some of the things you can read in the Visitor’s Center section about Jesus. That part of the website is entitled "A Basic Introduction to Christianity." What we find there about Jesus is all the more striking in light of charges that the Episcopal Church is heretical and/or apostate. I’m thinking in particular of the charge that the Episcopal Church rejects the uniqueness and the divinity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Here is what our Church’s official website says about Jesus in a section entitled "The Story of Jesus, In Brief" (I’ve highlighted the parts that stand out for me):

… three days after he had died and been buried, he came back to his disciples, resurrected—fully and physically alive. For another forty days, Scripture says, he spent time with his disciples and commissioned them to continue in his teaching and miracles, and spreading the good news of his life, work, and resurrection to others. Finally, according to the Bible, he returned to Heaven—body and all—to be with God, where, Christians believe, he lives on and continues to be present with us forever.

That's a strong affirmation of the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Then there’s this from a section entitled "What Makes Us Christian":

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was, at the same time, completely human and completely God, all in one person. This idea was articulated and adopted to address variants to Christian theology (known as “heresies”), which arise from time to time throughout history. One heresy has claimed that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross because he wasn’t really human. An opposing heresy claims that he was really just an important guy with some great ideas, and that he wasn’t really God.

Here we have an affirmation of the 4th Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon's definition of the union of the divine and human natures in the Person of Christ (one of the classical affirmations of Jesus' uniqueness as Lord and Savior), as well as rejection of heresies such as Arianism, Docetism, and Gnosticism.

And there's more:

Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth died completely on the cross, that he was buried in a tomb, and that on the third day, he was raised physically again to life to return to his disciples.

Again, here's an affirmation that Jesus really and truly died on the cross (it wasn't just some sort of Gnostic make-believe), and that he really and truly was physically (i.e., bodily) raised from the dead.

The official website of The Episcopal Church affirms the uniqueness and divinity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It also affirms the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It characterizes these beliefs as "hallmarks that distinguish Christianity from all other, similar or not-so-similar, religious sects." And it even uses the word “heresy” to talk about beliefs that are not acceptable in light of these hallmarks of the Church’s faith.

Sounds like orthodox, creedal Christianity to me.

[I've also posted this piece over at The Anglican Centrist where there is a more extensive comment thread.]


The Postulant said...

OK, admit it. You hacked into the site and put that there, didn't you?

Bryan Owen said...

Oh no, I've been busted!!! :-)

Joe Rawls said...

It's not All Fools' Day, so the post must be legit.

This will perhaps come as a rude shock to many of my fellow parishioners (including the rector) who are big Jesus Seminar fans. On the other hand, they have a way of screening out stuff that contradicts cherished presuppositions.

Bryan Owen said...

Hey Joe. I've never understood why anyone in the Episcopal Church would be a big fan of the Jesus Seminar. There such incredible dissonance between what the JS stands for and what we say and do in our liturgies. Imagine what the liturgies of the Prayer Book what look like - and how little of scripture would be included in the lectionary - if the JS called the shots!

bob said...

It looks like the change was to post the catechism from the 79 BCP. It replaces the verry interesting "Seeker's Center". That was a piece of work! You'll find parishes that used to link to it if you do a search on Google, and surprise, dead link! It included a beautifully Modalist version of the Trinity, among other things. It was an interesting place to look. Remember a couple of years ago they had "Feminist Liturgies" that were, uh, a little too into bodily fluids for some, then they disappeared too. Not even to be found in the "cache" of Google. That's covering your tracks! ECUSA had to look a little more credible with all the publicity over Lambeth, Robinson, etc, so erected a Schori Village on the river bank.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry - I didn't see where the Episcopal Church affirmed the uniqueness of Christ.

Bryan Owen said...

Anonymous, the uniqueness of Christ is in the section from the website that I've quoted and highlighted in red that affirms the Chalcedonian definition of Christ as "completely human and completely God, all in one person."

James said...

I'm very thankful to read about this. I know the post is old, but this section of the site is still up. This is one small thing in which to take joy.