Tuesday, February 14, 2012

At the Heart of a Classically Anglican Christian Faith

A posting by Fr. Jonathan at The Conciliar Anglican entitled "A Checklist for Finding a Classically Anglican Parish" recently caught my eye. In it, Fr. Jonathan suggests several important questions for an inquirer to ask the rector of a parish as part of the process of discerning whether or not the parish in question is, in fact, "classically Anglican."

Here's the first question Fr. Jonathan suggests asking:

Do you believe that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead and that it’s only through faith in Him that our sins are forgiven and we come to be saved?

Fr. Jonathan's explanation for putting this question front and center hits the nail on the head:

It is appalling that we live in an age when we cannot take the answer to this question for granted, but there we are. If the answer to this is anything other than an unqualified “yes,” turn around and walk right back out the door. This is a good question to ask because it saves you time on having to ask a whole bunch of other questions about the creeds, the scriptures, etc. If the answer to this question is yes, you can be pretty well assured that the answers to all those other questions will be the right ones.

God was uniquely present in Jesus. And the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central miracle of the Christian faith, the chief premise of Christian teaching, and the foundation event for the entire Christian religion. Everything hinges on the resurrection.

So Fr. Jonathan is right: the uniqueness of Jesus and the reality of his bodily resurrection lie at the heart of a classically Anglican understanding of the Christian faith. And so failure to affirm the uniqueness of Jesus as the Savior and his bodily resurrection from the dead signifies a departure from "classical Anglicanism." Even more, it signals a departure from the Christian faith itself.

From time to time, I hear persons in the Church (lay and ordained) suggest or outright state that such things don't really matter. They say that it's doing the Church's mission a la Matthew 25:31-46 and faithfully living the last two questions of promise in the Baptismal Covenant that are really important. As long as we can agree on that, we can disagree on things like the Person and Work of Jesus and still call ourselves "Christian."

What a sad state of affairs!

Speaking of our Lord's resurrection, check out N. T. Wright's paper recently delivered to the Conference of Italian Bishops entitled "Christ is Risen from the Dead, the First Fruits of Those who have Died."


Don said...

Great link to the N.T. Wright paper!

This whole thread points to the larger problem in the Christian world today, that of secular humanism posing as Christian belief and faith. Kierkegaard framed the problem so long ago, and it remains a source of consternation and dismay for many of us today. When Episcopal book stores continue to carry 5 times as many titles by Borg, Crossan and the like, than they do of the Church Fathers, Augustine etc... the confusion will continue. I find that many do not understand that this is NOT either the Christian understanding, or the Christian profession of faith.

I couldn't agree more with Fr. Jonathan's suggestion. This basis of the faith can no longer be assumed, even by clerics.

One daughter's perspective said...

Interesting. Does that include parishes like mine that are still part of TEC even though we are part if a conservative diocese (SC)? You gave me great idea for posts on my own blog. Thanks.

Bryan Owen said...

Glad you liked the N. T. Wright paper, Don. If you haven't read it, The Resurrection of the Son of God is not to be missed. And good points about the "larger problem"!

And thanks for the comment and for flagging your blog, "One daughter's perspective." I would say the basic gist of this posting includes any parish that retains the marks of classical Anglicanism.

Fr. J said...

We all owe Wright a debt of gratitude for "The Resurrection of the Son of God."

Bryan Owen said...

Quite right, Fr. J!