Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Church isn't a Playground to be Fixed

"The Early Church abolished the order of prophet. It had become a nuisance! Remember that our Lord is the Prophet. The church isn't a playground to be fixed, it is the Body of Christ."


The Underground Pewster said...

So why did we need the Reformation?

Bryan Owen said...

Good question, Underground Pewster. However, I think that the intention behind Fr. Clavier's statement is really about our current context, which some critics charge is one in which those with the power feel free to change and remake the Church to suit their own agendas. There's little room in such an "ecclesiology" for taking seriously what it means to call the Church "that wonderful and sacred mystery" (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 280).

Joe Rawls said...

The Church is also a hospital for spiritually sick people.

Bryan Owen said...

Very true, Joe!

C. Wingate said...

Considering how many of the additions to the kalendar are described as prophetic voices, I really wonder if this is a message that is going to be heard in this church.

Bryan Owen said...

Interesting comment, C. Wingate. Since the transition from Lesser Feasts and Fasts to Holy Women, Holy Men, I've become far more selective about the feast days I'm willing to observe.

bob said...

The preacher seems confused. There hasn't been a day in 2000 years that there haven't been prophetic, maybe "charismatic" people around. He may be clericalised and think they have to be ordained. That's another problem, but the tradition of having teachers and guides, male and female has never left. Sometimes monastics, sometimes laity, sometimes even clergy. There have also always been false versions. If he means he "can't" find one he (like everyone) needs to really want one and God provides it. Then you have to be willing to hear.

Bryan Owen said...

Hi bob. When Fr. Tony speaks of the early Church abolishing the order of prophet, I think he's referring to the Church's response to Montanism. And I think he's here suggesting that such claims to possessing special revelation that authorize recipients to change the Church continue to be made.

In a more recent blog posting, Fr. Tony writes words which, to my mind, clarify the sort of thing he's talking about in the quote I've shared. Here's the first paragraph of a piece entitled "Revelation or Renovation":

There are Episcopalians, I fancy more of them ordained than lay, who really believe that we are living in a special age. After centuries of neglect, God the Holy Spirit is busy replacing the teachings of Jesus, the theology and practicality of Paul, with new messages which oddly seem largely about sex. The notable exception is the fashionable idea that holy communion should be offered to all and sundry. We haven’t gone into the street yet to offer communion to passers by. Our invitation is confined to those who wander through the church door, like what we are about, and want to participate.

Anonymous said...

So I am "confused" and "clericalized"! Probably so. Afrer all I shall soon be seventy one, and am full of chemo and radiation. And clericalized? 45 years of priesthood may well have done that.

So Bob may be right.Of course I don't think we have met. He doesn't know me and I don't know him.

Yes I was talking about now, but the Reformation is a case in point. Private judgement began to trump that which had always been believed, everywhere, always and by all. And now we have personal judgement collectivized in a sort of democratic process.

I shall now return to my addle-pated existence. No offense taken Bob.

plsdeacon said...

The Church needs "prophets" but very few of those who claim the title are actually true prophets. If you will read the writings of the Prophets, you will find that they always called the people back to their Covenant with God. Even when God said he was doing "a new thing," that "new thing" was to write the "old thing" on our hearts - to change the very being of man so that he naturally follows God's desires.

So a prophet in TEC would be one who calls us back to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, not out of the AC or out of fellowship with the Church Catholic. A prophet would seek greater faithfulness to the moral teachings of Holy Scripture, not greater faithfulness to the dictates of modern culture.

Too many of today's "prophets" say things that we want to hear, rather than what God says.

Phil Snyder

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for offering your comments in response to bob, Fr. Tony. I hope that my sharing a snippet from you excellent sermon and the comments that have followed here haven't been a source of irritation!

And good points about what being a prophet, biblically speaking, is really all about, Phil. It's not about breaking into uncharted territory, bolding venturing into theological and moral territory where God in Christ has not authorized us to go. It's about calling us back to the covenant already in place with God!

In the case of the Episcopal Church, it makes one wonder what it would look like for us to take seriously all of the Baptismal Covenant rather than the one or two promises that "progressives" tend to emphasize to the exclusion of the other promises and the Apostles' Creed.