Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

There's Another Reformed Anglican...Unbelievable!

Unbelievable, there really is—actually, there really is—another Reformed Anglican in America!  Reading this joyful post is like watching children grow up!  A few are beginning to mature and grow-up, no thanks to their Bishops it must be added.  No thanks to their seminaries.  Time for Bob Duncan, an ACNA cleric and Archbishop, to grow up and get a profound Reformed theological vision without the charismatic revivalists and without the anti-Reformed Tractarians.  But, Bob doesn’t have the depth or cajones to see beyond his significant limitations—and they are, indeed, serious.  Also, time for David Virtue, the alleged voice for "Orthodox Anglicanism" ( to get off the dime and "get with the program."  He, like RA, rails against the braying asses in liberalism.  Fair enough.  We do too.  We've been in that war for 100 years, Virtue, thanks to Professor J. Gresham Machen. Old school Westminsterians have been in the long battle for decades. But, liberalism is an old story and it is time for American Anglicans to--sorta like--grow up. Additionally, it's time to push the Tractarians to where they the Continuum, not in Reformed and Reformational Anglicanism.  But, we have men with marshmellow stones.  It's time for Virtue to take the measure of his pitifully small gonads, get a theology, move on, get some Confessional depth and take some public and journalistic stands.  Perhaps, Jim Packer's anticipated Systematic Theology will lay down some territorial boundaries, like male dogs with lifted legs, justifiably, marking their territories.  Jim would be more polite.  Most others would prefer more dignified language. We apologize to the Brits and Canadians.  As an ex-Canadian, I understand the culture of compassion, politeness and dignity.  As for American mutants, phoohey onit.  More largely, screw it.  We're Marines and we're tired of the fudging weakness with the controlling and governing "wimp factor." Speaking of Tractarians, Jim's track record with Tractarians has been woefully weak.  The same for the ACNA and AMiA.  Own it, fellas, if ya' can.   Or, the charismatic Arminians with hothouse music. You're weak and disabled.  Admit it.  Get a pair and fix it. Get in a 12-step program and work the program with the first step, admitting you've been in deep denial and are helpless.  But this much, with the post below, we are thankful for even "this" small offering at Treading Grain. There really is a Calvinistic and Reformed Anglican.  There are few, but they exist.  Rev. Dr. Lee Gatiss at Peterhouse, Cambridge is another Reformed Prayer Book man.  There are few. We live in exile, but with faith, hope, learning and trust in His Dreaded Majesty. (The Reformed Episcopalians once were Reformed, but they've sold out and sponsor "babbling charismatics," saints-invokers, bloviating Tractarians like the APA-hustlers, along with repudiations of their heritage and the English Reformation, notwithstanding contrary protestations...they tolerate Tractarians.  Informed observers see it too. Give the salute to the honour-seeking Presiding REC Bishop, Leonard Riches, and the ever-changing chamelon (Fundamentalist, Dispensationalist, Presbyterian, Theonomist, Reconstructionist, Federal Visionist, Reformed Episcopalian, and now...drum roll...Pro-Tractarian all within one lifetime), Ray Sutton, both ever seeking a place at the bigger table, the lust for respectability rather than doctrinal fidelity.  Own it Riches.  Own it Sutton.  You're flip-floppers, especially you, Riches.  Dr. Rudolph's view of you, Riches? Dr. Herter's thoughts on you, Riches?  Dr. Fisher's thoughts on you Riches?  Dr. Guelzo's thoughts on you, Riches?  Doctored men with world class doctorates with dim views of you, your meager MDiv.  Or, Dr. Geoff Hubler's (D.Phil, Oxford) view on you, Riches?  Dr. Hubler has very, very dim views of you, Riches. Or, my Marine-view of you Riches? Weak men in pursuit of respectability and as a function of deep-seated inferiority complexes and lack of confidence in the Reformed faith.  You get no respect because you've dissipated your capital and you tossed the heritage.)  Although Treading Grain is "one" Calvinistic Anglican, it is probably too much to hope that the Muddling American Anglicans might recover their genuine roots, the English Reformers. Well, alas, at least there is one Reformed Anglican, a small and great comfort.  The "exile" is lonely.

5 Myths About Reformed Theology

Michael Horton has a nice article over at The Resurgence addressing common myths about Reformed theology. It was a nice summary of his book, For Calvinism, which I am just finishing and recommend wholeheartedly. The readers of this blog will know that I believe the truest and best expression of Anglicanism, which comes to us from our Reformers, is a Reformed Anglicanism.

Horton opens his article noting the irony that can attend Reformed theology.  He writes:

Calvinists can be pains in the neck. I should know—I’ve been one myself on occasion. Yet, it is a terrific irony that a theology that so exalts God and lays human beings low before his majesty and grace should be championed sometimes with a spirit that contradicts it.
He continues by laying out five common misperceptions about Reformed theology:

·         Reformed theology is arrogant and prideful.
·         Reformed theology makes us robots in God’s plan.
·         Reformed theology has no grace and love.
·         Reformed theology kills genuine, heart-felt piety.
·         Reformed theology kills community and mission.


So, how does Horton answer these critiques? Read the article. Or, better yet, buy the book.

Episcopal Watch: TEC Goes Where the Faithful Cannot

Man-Baby TEC Clerics
Another dreary story about theological liberals, yeah apostates, in the TEC.  Take-way for youths:  steer clear, read the Bible regularly, get a few good systematicians around you, and have recourse to the Reformed Confessions.  We can make book recomendations for inquirers.  The last three generations need to repent and apologize to the current generation. 

The liberal Dumb Asses, with leaders and their secularist herd, bray on. The braying is insufferable to the ears.  They are honking donkeys and can't hear their own cacophany.

Or, to switch the metaphor from Dumb Asses to Man-Babies.  Keep the baby bottles and diapers on hands for these retrograde whiners and opponents of classical Christendom.  If they were honourable, they'd surrender their collars and go off into la-la land to celebrate their un-Christian beliefs with whatever rituals they desire.  But, they choose to steal the name, "Christian."  They want to be lawless squatters claiming land that is not their own.  They are trespassers and interlopers.

A solid 12-step program is needed for theological liberals.  Principle 1 of the 12 steps:  "I am a forlorn, hopeless, stupid, blind, and ignorant theological liberal.  I am beyond help apart from God.  I've been in denial for decades having following too much the desires of my own depraved mind and heart..."  You get the idea. 

Attorney A.S. Haley offers his review.  The apostates go where the faithful cannot.  Haley gets it. Indeed. 

For Confessionalist reviewers, you get it.  We are sorry for the continuuing reports on the braying donkeys, honking donkeys, braying asses, but resistance and reportage is the order of the day. For the young, there are resources for learning, thinking, resolution, confirmation and affirmation of the faith. 

In 2003, the Episcopal Church (USA) said to the majority of the Anglican Communion: "Goodbye -- it's been nice knowing you." The bishop whom ECUSA chose to confirm and consecrate, over the uniform objection of all the Anglican primates at the time, could not be admitted to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, or be licensed to preside at the eucharist in ECUSA's parent church, the Church of England. Likewise, he still cannot be welcomed as a bishop in twenty-two of the thirty-four provinces in the Anglican Communion (not counting the extra-provincial and united churches).

In 2006, the Episcopal Church (USA) said to the rest of the Anglican Communion: "We will urge our bishops and standing committees to 'exercise restraint' in confirming bishops who might upset you, but we cannot do any more than that. Nor can we be sorry if you were offended by our actions -- that is your problem." Some of the dioceses in ECUSA still were very piqued, and announced they would not elect or confirm any more bishops, straight or gay, until the voluntary "moratorium" requested of them by the Lambeth Commission was declared to be at an end.

By 2009, the Episcopal Church (USA) had abandoned any vestiges of its so-called "moratorium." Two more clergy in same-sex partnerships were elected as bishops, and despite a personal plea from the Archbishop of Canterbury, General Convention approved them for consecration. They, too, may not officiate in the Church of England, or in any of twenty-one other provinces of the Anglican Communion.

At the same time, ECUSA in 2009 decided (without advertising the fact in the least) to change the rules, and to make, starting in 2011, its diocesan bishops subject to the pastoral supervision and authority of the Presiding Bishop. When they learned what the new disciplinary canons purported to do, a number of dioceses, starting with the Diocese of South Carolina, refused to recognize General Convention's authority to change the rules without going through a formal amendment to the Church's Constitution.

In 2012, the Episcopal Church said to the Diocese of South Carolina: "Goodbye -- it's been nice knowing you." They adopted more changes to the rules, which they already knew that the Diocese of South Carolina could not, and would not, accept. Most of that Diocese's deputation to General Convention walked out of the gathering in Indianapolis, and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, informed the House of Bishops that he could not, in good conscience, remain in their company any longer.

The problem with ECUSA's actions over the past nine years is that it refuses to regard what it has done as in any way disruptive to the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Christ. It has asserted its power to annul and set aside the holy orders of bishops, priests and deacons who were each ordained, not into ECUSA particularly, but into that one catholic and apostolic church. And as if in retaliation for the fact that its gay and lesbian partnered bishops cannot be recognized by most of the other churches in the Communion, or invited to the Lambeth Conference, ECUSA has refused to allow clergy from other provinces to serve in its dioceses without their first renouncing their allegiance to the churches which licensed them, and then swearing a new oath of obedience solely to the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the Episcopal Church (USA).

In sum, ECUSA has acted as though it was not in any shared relationships with the other provinces of the Anglican Communion. And recently, as pointed out above, it has begun to act as though it is no longer in any kind of shared relationship with its own member dioceses (except for those who agree with what it is doing internationally and domestically).

But to listen to those in ECUSA, it is the ones who reject its actions as unscriptural who have "departed from tradition," and certainly not ECUSA itself. Here is a dissident within Bishop Lawrence's Diocese of South Carolina who publicly puts the blame on him for the separation that has happened (my emphasis):

There are some who feel that the Episcopal Church has “left” the traditional church doctrines and polity. I am of the opinion that the leadership of this diocese over the past few decades has moved away from mainstream, traditional Episcopal doctrine and discipline.

For an Episcopalian to maintain such utter nonsense is to show plainly how far removed from reality are those who are in charge of the Church, as well as all those who support the leadership's non-scriptural agenda. Oh, to be sure, they go through the motions of claiming that they are the only ones who are properly interpreting scripture, according to today's understanding of God's holy words, and they deck out their contentions with pseudo-scholarship and citations to pseudo-authority. But in the final analysis, all of what they are pleased to call "theology" comes down to this: "We know better than the rest of the church catholic. We understand the Holy Scriptures far better than those antiquated and hidebound church fathers ever did, or could have -- and the Holy Spirit is guiding us, not you."

Whatever could motivate a churchgoing and God-fearing Christian to jettison two thousand five hundred years of theology and orthodoxy in such an obstinate way baffles me. Their attitude leaves the rest of us with no choice: if we play along with them, we compromise our faith irretrievably; therefore, we must refuse to recognize what they do. They are fully engaged in writing their own judgment-book, and the rest of us can have nothing to do with it.

This is the dilemma currently facing Bishop Lawrence, and no doubt a good many (but alas, not all) of the clergy who serve under him, as well. As the chosen leader of his flock, Bishop Lawrence has the heaviest responsibility -- but the responsibilities of priests for their parishes are, though not as all-compassing as the bishop's, nevertheless still every bit as solemn, and severe. As a lay person, I do not envy them the burdens imposed upon them by ECUSA's perverse and poisonous obtuseness.

Man is a fallen creature, and ECUSA -- just like any other branch of the church catholic -- is a fallen church. One cannot find perfection on this earth, no matter which church one joins, but perfection, as such, is not the standard. Rather, faithfulness to Scripture and tradition is. And by that measure, ECUSA falls far short of the mark. It is led by the false teachers of whom first Jesus Christ, and later his apostles, warned their first disciples, who then handed down those warnings to us.

Where can Bishop Lawrence go from here? Where can the Diocese of South Carolina go from here?
ECUSA has purposefully and heedlessly left them both with very limited choices. ECUSA simply does not care what it is doing to them. (It has far more important things to concern itself about -- things such as these.)

First, Bishop Lawrence could simply resign (but not without first obtaining, paradoxically, the consent of the apostate bishops who are driving him out of their fellowship). I do not believe he will do this.

Why not? Because it would leave his Diocese -- his flock, whom he has sworn to guide and protect -- at the mercy of ECUSA, who will seize any such opportunity to install someone much more to their liking. (Perhaps, just to rub it in, they would push forward one or more of their transgendered clergy from other dioceses, who so rejoiced at the remarkable contradiction which they maneuvered General Convention into making: "Every creature of God is good; hence partnered gays and lesbians make good bishops; but when it comes to transgendered persons, God somehow erred, and they know better than He does what they should have been.")

Well, what will Bishop Lawrence do, then? Although the responsibility for the spiritual welfare of his diocese lies heavily on his shoulders, the one thing Bishop Lawrence cannot do is to reach a decision on his own about the next steps for it to take.

He has to involve his clergy and his faithful parishioners in that process. (Those adversaries, like Melinda Lucka quoted above, will refuse to view things from his perspective. Instead, they will continue, ad nauseam, to play the victim to the willing ears of the national Church.) Any decision for the Diocese as a whole can be taken only by the whole Diocese, and that will require time for reflection, deliberation, and careful listening.

The decision has to be the Diocese's as a body, but Bishop Lawrence has the responsibility to guide it into the right decision. They elected him as their bishop, and he must consequently advise and lead them. No doubt that is why he has first taken some time off to ponder the options in prayer and solitude. He must be firm and steadfast in his own resolve before he can inspire others.

There are of course many faithful leaders in his Diocese who will make themselves available when he is ready to hear and meet with them. And my hope is that some of his fellow bishops who voted against the unscriptural measures approved by General Convention will extend their hands to him, as well. Indeed, it would be far better if some other dioceses expressed their solidarity with South Carolina, and if they together faced down ECUSA's apostasy as a determined group, rather than just one of them by itself.

The days ahead will be momentous for the Diocese of South Carolina -- and for any other dioceses that undertake to find their way along the same path. All of us who can perceive the dilemma into which the activism of General Convention has put them must be ready and willing to help in any way we can, as well.

For my part, I pledge to use my legal abilities, and understanding of Church law and history, to assist anyone caught in this dilemma to gain a better understanding of its parameters, and of the options available for consideration. In the weeks and months to come, I will devote more and more of this blog to that endeavor (while not omitting, of course, to blog about and comment on the equally momentous choice facing the entire Nation this November).

There is much work to do. Let not your hearts be troubled -- for we know, if we work together in the abiding faith of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, that God's will shall be done.

Rome Watch: Jumping into and Swimming Across the Turgid, Brown Tiber River to Rome

Do these children not read anymore?  Simple answer: why, of course not. Another function of an absense of reading and catechesis!   Never mind the Dumb Ass evangelicals.  They wouldn't even know what the issues are. As Archbishop Cranmer prayed for years and years and--then--finally codified in his 1544 Litany, "Good Lord, deliver us from the abominable tyrannies of the Bishop of Rome."  Errantly, the 1559 BCP cut the phrase out.  A stupid move by Elizabeth 1 and Canterbury, neglecting Cranmer's long developing instincts.  Cranmer had been praying that phrase, that instinct, that proposition, that desire, from the late 1520s.  Of course, illiterate Tractarians wouldn't have understood their founder here.  More ignorance.  Cranmer's prayer is still a worthy prayer. 

By the way, having been to Rome perhaps a dozen times, the Tiberine River is brown and turgid. Quite literally.  To add more literality to it, while living in Naples, reports surfaced that the sewer system had failed and was dumping--well, you know what--stuff into the brown and turgid Tiber River.  Floaters.  Big brown floaters with heavy grease content giving them buoyancy and visibility.  Result?  Visible floaters to those walking alongside the Tiber. A good metaphor too. Marines will approve.  Limp and squeamish pietists won't. God, give us a modern Luther, earthy, gutsy and scholarly.  A man with steel cajones that hang low, to the knees!

Leave a Comment Posted by Acidri on July 31, 2012

Early this week an Evangelical Christian young man who has always appeared to profess faith in Christ alone dropped a note to his local congregation and fellowship of believers. The message said he was no longer going to walk with them and he had come to a place where he wanted to go back to Roman Catholicism. It is always a sad thing when we see a falling away of supposed believers. It’s sadder when we see apostasy. I may have covered Apostasy in some earlier posts but today we will look at Roman Catholicism. What are the errors of Roman Catholicism? Why should one be extremely cautious of her allure?
A key distinction between Catholics and Christians is the view of the Bible. Catholics view the Bible as having equal authority with the Church and tradition. Christians view the Bible as the supreme authority for faith and practice. The question is, how does the Bible present itself? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Scripture, of itself, is sufficient for the Christian to be thoroughly equipped for every good work. This text tells us that Scripture is not “just the beginning,” or “just the basics,” or the “foundation for a more complete church tradition.” On the contrary, Scripture is perfectly and fully sufficient for everything in the Christian life. Scripture can teach us, rebuke us, correct us, train us, and equip us. Bible Christians do not deny the value of church tradition. Rather, Christians uphold that for a church tradition to be valid, it must be based on the clear teaching of Scripture, and must be in full agreement with Scripture. Catholic friend, study the Word of God for yourself. In God’s Word you will find God’s description of, and intention for, His Church. 2 Timothy 2:15 declares, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

A second key difference between Catholics and “Bible Christians” is the understanding of how we can approach God. Catholics tend to approach God through intermediaries, such as Mary or the saints. Christians approach God directly, offering prayers to no one other than God Himself. The Bible proclaims that we ourselves can approach God’s throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). The Bible is perfectly clear that God desires us to pray to Him, to have communication with Him, to ask Him for the things we need (Philippians 4:6; Matthew 7:7-8; 1 John 5:14-15). There is no need for mediators or intermediaries, as Christ is our one and only mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and both Christ and the Holy Spirit are already interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27; Hebrews 7:25). Catholic friend, God loves you intimately and has provided an open door to direct communication through Jesus.

The most crucial difference between Catholics and “Bible Christians” is on the issue of salvation. Catholics view salvation almost entirely as a process, while Christians view salvation as both a completed status and a process. Catholics see themselves as “being saved,” while Christians view themselves as “having been saved.” 1 Corinthians 1:2 tells us, “…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…” The words “sanctified” and “holy” come from the same Greek root. This verse is declaring that Christians are both sanctified and called to be sanctified. The Bible presents salvation as a gift that is received the moment a person places faith in Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16). When a person receives Christ as Savior, he/she is justified (declared righteous – Romans 5:9), redeemed (rescued from slavery to sin – 1 Peter 1:18), reconciled (achieving peace with God – Romans 5:1), sanctified (set apart for God’s purposes – 1 Corinthians 6:11), and born again as a new creation (1 Peter 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Each of these are accomplished facts that are fully received at the moment of salvation. Christians are then called to live, practically (called to be holy), what is already true, positionally (sanctified).

The Catholic viewpoint is that salvation is received by faith, but then must be “maintained” by good works and participation in the Sacraments. Bible Christians do not deny the importance of good works or that Christ calls us to observe the ordinances in remembrance of Him and in obedience to Him. The difference is that Christians view these things as the result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation, or a means of maintaining salvation. Salvation is an accomplished work, purchased by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2). God offers us salvation and assurance of salvation because Jesus’ sacrifice was fully, completely, and perfectly sufficient. If we receive God’s precious gift of salvation, we can know that we are saved. 1 John 5:13 declares, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Excerpt from Got Questions?

Old Princeton Watch: 31 Jul 1859, Passing of A.A. Alexander's Son, James Waddell Alexander

The Rev. Mr. James Waddell Alexander, an old Princetonian scion and the son of the ever-revered Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander.  I've studied Dr. Alexander's commentary on Isaiah.  JW Alexander, son of AA Alexander, passed away 31 Jul 1859.  It would appear that he had New School tendencies towards revivalism, but better documentation is needed.  "The old Princetonian Presbyterians," en toto, were a far better breed than "American Tractarian Anglicans," a retrograde English Romanticist movement beginning to invade the U.S., a movement resisted by older Anglicans like Bishop Johns but a movement that was never subdued by Anglican incompetence, capitulation and predilections for Goth-dark-fancifulness and effeminate lace rather than doctrinal depth.  (I hold the 1904 lecture notes on the 39 Articles at Philadelphia Divinity School, now long closed, but an Episcopal seminary.  Sophmoric stuff of the first order and not anywhere near the scholarship of old Princeton.  It's embarrassing to be an old Anglican and read the sophmoric stuff from Philadelphia Divinity School.  In fact, a catechetized Presbyterian lad and lass got more theology than these Divinity notes for Episcopalian clerics.  Embarrassing, actually.)  Princetonian Presbyterians resisted the Tractarian Lacey-Ladies, but they themselves succumbed in the 1920s to liberalism from which liberal Presbyterians never recovered. The Presboes are still spiralling downwards.  Amidst this, the southern, backwoods revivalist Hillbillies were doing their tub-thumping on the frontiers.  What's worse, a theological liberal in the mainline or a backwoods exhorter?  That's a hard call.  Meanwhile, Anglicans also were hit with liberalism atop the Lacey-Ritualist Ladies.  The Anglicans took the twin blows of Lacey-Tractarianism and liberalism and they didn't recover from either stomach-blows.  Behold the American Anglicans, if we dare to call them that, given their abandonment of everything true to historic Anglicanism.

The consequences are with us in 2012.  Lest we forget!  Oh, how the mighty have fallen!  The proud have had their faces smashed into the dirt and dust!

Hello, liberals, eat the dust you Dumb Asses. Your days are numbered as your leaders are being, as we speak, passing to another world, being held accountable.  Enjoy His August Majesty's justice, truthfulness, and holiness. Motions to dismiss and motions for clarification will be denied. You've made your contribution to the eternal reprobates. Better folks will jump ships for the hopes of better thinking.

A Model Preacher and a Faithful Pastor

How does one live in the shadow of a man, albeit your father, who was the leading theologian of the day? The answer is simple enough really. You engage in your calling faithfully and fully. Such a man was James Waddell Alexander.

Born the eldest son of Archibald Alexander near Gordonsville, Virginia, in 1804, James was in a household filled with theological giants of the faith. His father was the president of the Presbyterian Hampden-Sydney College at that time. But when schooling began for the son, his father had taken the pulpit of the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1807. In 1812, the new seminary called Princeton began in New Jersey, and the family of the Alexanders moved there, so Archibald Alexander could become the first professor of that new divinity school.

Young James graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1820. And while he studied theology at Princeton Seminary from 1822–1824, he would not be ordained by the historic Hanover Presbytery until 1827, having first served about three years as a tutor. (This seems to have been a common practice in the 19th-century, where men would first serve as a tutor for several years before seeking ordination.). He began his pastoral ministry as stated supply of the Presbyterian church in Charlotte Court House, Virginia for a year, and was then pastor of that church for another year. The rest of his life and ministry had him in the college and seminary field of teaching at Princeton Seminary, interspersed with pastoral ministry in Trenton, New Jersey and New York City Presbyterian churches.

He was involved in some of the biggest seasons of revival and reformation during those middle decades of the eighteen hundreds. The New York City prayer revival took place in his church in 1857, which then spread through the noon prayer meetings among many denominations and around the country. In the midst of his ministry, the Old School New School division took place in the denomination. Through it all, James Alexander proclaimed Christ to the masses.

One of the highlights of his ministry was his hymn writing and translations. The most famous translation was the familiar words to “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” His translation from 1830 from Bernard of Clairvaux in the eleventh century, is the version most used by our churches today.

James in 1859 went with his wife back to his home state of Virginia to recover from a serious illness.

On July 31, 1859, he went to Red Sweet Springs, Virginia, where he succumbed from his illness. Before his death, he made the following comment:

“If the curtain should drop at his moment and I were ushered into the presence of my Maker, what would be my feelings? They would be these. First, I would prostrate myself in the dust in an unutterable sense of my nothingness and guilt. Secondly, I would look up to my Redeemer with an inexpressible assurance of faith and love. There is a passage of Scripture which best expresses my present feeling: I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

Words to Live By: As we contemplate that last comment of James Alexander on his death-bed, who among believers could not echo these words and thoughts? We have no right from ourselves to gain heaven. It is only through Christ’s love and forgiveness that we have been given the key to heaven’s door. Christ Jesus is the object of our faith, and the only object. Let that be your assurance both here, and hereafter.

Through the Scriptures: Nahum 1 – 3

Through the Standards: The Sixth commandment: Sins forbidden

WLC 136 — “What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.”

WSC 69 — “What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tends thereunto.”

Image source : Frontispiece portrait in Forty Years’ Familiar Letters of James W. Alexander, D.D. New York: Charles Scribner & Co., 1870.

Theo-Lib Watch: PHILADELPHIA: Association of Anglican Musicians Feature "Drag Queen"

This is an entirely alternative universe.  The holy, catholic and apostolic church through the centuries has always had "external enemies."  Nothing new there.  It's expected.  But, at least we have the First Amendment compared to earlier centuries.  Having enemies goes with being a Christian.  But, this is an "internal enemy." And be assured, these theological liberals are not kindly disposed to classicists.  Rest assured, liberals DO NOT TOLERATE old school, Biblical, Confessional, Prayer Book people.  Try getting ordained under Quacky Bennison, Philadelphia's former Bishop.  Rest assured, these are not nice and tolerant people, but make the judgmental Puritans look mellow.

PHILADELPHIA: Association of Anglican Musicians Gathering Features Drag Queen, Mocks Gospel Hymns

By David W. Virtue
July 30, 2012

A gathering of nationally recognized Episcopal organists met for a series of concerts Philadelphia area churches recently under the title Blessed Liberty: Honoring Our Past and Imagining Our Future. The occasion featured "Ramona" a drag queen, a gift of $10,000 from PA Bishop Charles E. Bennison to underwrite the "Clergy Day expenses, and a disastrous Panel Discussion. The events caused some 70 clergy and musicians to walk out in disgust.

The Association's Journal in review of the daily events described "Ramona" as the "First Lady of the Hammond". (See foto) Reports from the floor of the Exhibit hall described "Ramona" as "she" held forth on a Hammond Organ leading those gathered in a mockery of gospel hymns including "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," "[There is] Power in the Blood," and "Wonderful Grace of Jesus".

"I was appalled at what I saw," said an organist who asked not to be named. "I could not stay to the bitter end."

The opening event, a concert by The Crossing began in the gay flaming parish of St. Clement's whose priest, the Rev. Gordon Reid, has been exposed by VOL as having a long history of homosexual activity that included sex with hundreds of partners, group sex orgies, extreme sadomasochistic sex acts and prostitution when he was in Scotland.

On Wednesday, Clergy Day, which PA Bishop Charles Bennison underwrote, Ana Hernandez, an alumnus of the Center for Emerging Visual Arts in Philadelphia, proceeded to lead the conference in "sacred chant" - in bare feet at Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square, which appalled many. As Ms. Hernandez's own book and website makes clear - her concept of sacred chant is a strange New Age mix of Hindu and Buddhist chant and philosophy intermingled with Christianity.

In a letter to the editor of the AAM Journal, a commenter noted, "... the real error of 'A Day for Clergy and Musicians' at the conference (an error that did not help the workshops) was that we went to Holy Trinity Church (where O Little Town of Bethlehem author Phillips Brooks was rector before being elected Bishop of Massachusetts, and composer Lewis Redner was organist) and experienced 'the hopes and fears of all the years' in a liturgy where we were asked to do things that were downright uncomfortable."

David Brensinger, in a letter to the editor of the Journal of the AAM, described the event as a "disappointment and an embarrassment" describing some of the music as "under rehearsed and ill prepared as it did with the music choices themselves."

The conference preacher, Bishop Paul Marshall (Diocese of Bethlehem), in his Monday sermon went so far as to suggest that belief or unbelief in the historic Creeds of the Church Catholic might be optional for Christians. He stated in the reprint of his sermon, "Not all of us believe with words. Perhaps the dogmatically hesitant have a vital point to make, at least in the present culture that speaks so trippingly of the uncertainty principle and parallel universes. I have to remember that for the orthodox Christianity of Mahler's day, the creed was for the most part data, not a song.

So perceived, it ultimately reduced God to an object, capable of study, dissection, and definition, the fuel for debate and even persecution. Such talk of a domesticated and definable God does not invite the ecstasy of music. Who would want to set the periodic chart of the elements to music? Well, of course, Tom Lehrer did just that, but you get my point."

Five current or former bishops of the Episcopal Church present at the conference were: The Rt. Rev'd Neil Alexander, retired Diocese of Atlanta, The Rt. Rev'd Keith B. Whitmore of the Diocese of Atlanta who was formally installed as the AAM chaplain, The Rt. Rev'd Douglas Theuner, retired Diocese of New Hampshire (under whose careful engineering Gene Robinson was selected as his successor), the Rt. Rev'd Paul Marshall, Diocese of Bethlehem, the Rt. Rev'd Charles Bennison, Diocese of Pennsylvania and the Rt. Rev'd George Councell of the Diocese of New Jersey.

William Bradley Roberts, professor at Virginia Theological Seminary, in his Banquet keynote address praised the The Book of Common Prayer and its use by others in nondenominational churches.

He said that an emerging church with no denominational ties wanted to deepen their worship and found it in the Book of Common Prayer. "Other churches are doing some things that are very, very effective. People are starving for what you and I take for granted, for the food that is sitting right in our cupboard. But waiting for them to walk through our red doors is not going to work anymore."

He said Brian McLaren, a leader of the Emerging Church Movement, calls this period we live in: "The Episcopal Moment." That is nothing short of extraordinary. "Brian McLaren was talking to Dent Davidson who is music chaplain to the House of Bishops, music coordinator in the Diocese of Chicago, and one of the most creative musicians in the church. McLaren wanted Dent to meet one of the musicians at Willow Creek, the independent mega-church just outside Chicago. What he's looking for is a liturgical, mystical dimension to feed his spirit and his creative life. He turned to the little Book of Common Prayer."

Later at the closing banquet at Philadelphia's prestigious Union League club, men were seen dancing with men which speaks to the level of depravity to which the parish leadership within the Episcopal Church have fallen.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Theo-Lib Watch: Sarah Morice-Brubaker Tries Her Hand on "What's Ailing Episcopalianism?"

Sarah Morice-Brubaker
The post below is by an Associate Professor at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK.  The school is associated with the now-liberal (once fundamentalist, sectarian, quasi-southern, Baptistic) denomination Disciples of Christ.  The Professor’s name is Sarah Morice-Brubaker.  It would be a hoot to be student under her.  Hello, Sarah!  We would have a lot of fun.  She might have a specialty, but classical and historic systematic theology is not one of them.  It’s like a lawyer attempting to practice dentistry or an accountant attempting to fly a 747.  This is a sorry and pathetic defense of the TEC’s whistling in the dark and whistling past the graveyard.  The senselessness and absence of discernment in her article is stunning.  Of course, we know that "theological liberalism" is more complicated than Ross Douthat's recent NYT op-ed piece, entitled "What Ails Episcopalianism?"  This is a Professor of Theology?  This is an alleged defense?  Er, Sarah, there's no excuse for this incompetent piece of a dreary narrative.  One is reminded of sighing of that old Scots Presbyterian cleric, Rev. Samuel Davies, when he said, "I retire to my library to avoid the dreary tedium of mortals." No wonder 1000s of the faithful have departed.  I had a top drawer sub Skipper, an Academy man, cradle Episcopalian, tell me of his and his father's departure from the TEC.  I'm developing a series on my many interactions with liberal clerics...easily 30 of them at least.   I’m half tempted to do the same, ditch the church, but fidelity argues otherwise.  Indifference is not neutrality, but a decision. Many faithful are still found in the liberal hellhole because they’ve not been taught, yet they simply affirm their faith, e.g. the Creeds, and hope the Bishop doesn’t come around too often or insist on the national agenda.  (We have a wonderful 84-year old, long story there, a real joy at our local TEC).   But, I digress.  Here’s…….Sarah (drum roll please).  

Recommendation, Sarah:  start from scratch, start over, and actually deal with the issues, not worthless anecdotes.  Give the history of 19th-20th century liberalism, exegesis, systematics, confessions, liturgies, creeds, the Bible and get to the real issues.  Dreary and pathetically weak,  I tell ya.' 

We apologize for the formatting that is irregular and incorrigible for some reason.

 For Douthat, Church Either Uncompromising or a Secular Den of Promiscuity and Irrelevance
Ross Douthat is telling stories again. He is a very good and compelling storyteller, which you can tell from the fact that he can tell (beg pardon) an old old story, and somehow it’s still fresh and interesting.
You probably know this story: it’s about a character called Liberal Christianity, and how it fatuously chased after every faddish cause that came down the pike in a misguided attempt to be relevant and popular. But then—oh, the irony!—it turned out that people who bothered with Christianity actually wanted churches that stood by timeless principles, and so they left. So sad! Now Liberal Christianity is left mostly alone, a victim of its own stinking desperation. For it has become, in his words, “flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.”
After a while, it does wear on one to have to keep saying, “Pardon me, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.” But: Pardon me, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Complicating factors have a way of making a story less exciting to both reader and writer, though, so I shall try to put this in narrative form.
Remember the Sweet Valley High book The New Girl? For the uninitiated, it’s about a really obnoxious new girl named Brooke who is horrible to everyone. (SPOILER ALERT: She is actually hurting on the inside!!!!) Twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield invent a fictional third sibling—Jennifer, whom they take turns impersonating—as part of a scheme to get back at Brooke.
Yeah, so this is kind of like that, only in reverse: Instead of two people pretending to be three people, we have (at least) three characters being conflated into one. (Conflated by people who, honestly, should know better.)  Because Liberal Christianity is, it turns out, not just one strand of intellectual and spiritual reflection, but at least three. So, to put a few distinct strands of liberal Christian thought into a Sweet Valley High-inspired, one-dimensional-U.S.-high-school pastiche, it would be like we had:

Mrs. Ernestine Peck, the lady who directs the morning bus traffic. She is wealthy enough that she doesn’t need the income, but she does this out of the goodness of her heart because she thinks kids today—with their fancy phones and their Facespace-or-whatever-it’s-called—need to see someone like her. Maybe it will inspire them to something better in life. Of course, it’s not really their fault. It’s the parents. They’re too permissive, and they work far too many hours, and they’re not reliable, and they don’t limit screen time, and even the liberal ones do activism all wrong. She and her friends marched, way back in the day, and this is the thanks they get! Mrs. Peck is the sort of person who sincerely can’t fathom why poor people don’t wear natural fibers; take up yoga; or cook fresh, organic, locally-sourced produce every day. Religiously, Mrs. Peck basically thinks that the more spiritually evolved you are, the more you come to resemble her and her friends: vague, spiritual, comfortable, and tastefully harrumphy. She likes hymns from the 1970s and is convinced they will appeal to “the youth.”
Zach Radix, an intellectually-serious-bordering-on-brooding student, who, from the time he could talk, has protested against everything that’s unfair. He knows that he caught some breaks, having been born a dude in a world that rewards being a dude, and having wound up with parents who can afford fancy camps and music lessons and whatnot. His older brother is gay, and Zach witnessed too many homophobic insults directed at his brother to think that so-called “traditional marriage” is an innocent concept. Zach runs the school’s chapters of Amnesty International and Men Can Stop Rape. Sometimes he’s the only one at the meetings, despite the hours spent putting up posters and pestering his friends. Turns out those two clubs are not as popular as, say, varsity sports, or the spring musical. But Zach isn’t doing this to up the numbers. Some things are more important than being popular. Zach attends a church that has been very public about being open and affirming of GLBTQ Christians. If that church ever considered muting its commitment in the hopes of appealing to moderates, Zach would be out the door. Too much is at stake to play nicey-nice.
Dr. Sally Tinker, the school counselor and student council adviser. Teenagers, you will be shocked to learn, do not always elect the best-qualified student council members. They are occasionally swayed by other concerns, like popularity. Rather than spend a lot of energy trying to convince teenagers to be more thoughtful about their elected representatives—not her place, and besides, there’s little chance of success—Dr. Tinker tries to get the best outcome possible for the very specific projects with which student council has been tasked. This takes compromise. She often finds herself saying things like, “I understand you don’t like Trixie. I’m not asking you to like her. I’m asking you to be on the decorations committee with her, which will involve only going to one meeting and hanging streamers. The rest is your own personal business.” Dr. Tinker attends a church that’s easy to get to, full of people she can relate to, where her kids like Sunday school, the music is nice, and the religious beliefs are given a soft sell. By the time Sunday rolls around, Dr. Tinker is exhausted and doesn’t want to be scolded or harangued.
These are three really different ways of being religious. Could you raise thoughtful criticisms of any of these? Sure. But if we’re going to talk about something called “liberal Christianity” (a phrase, by the way, that is too often expanded to simply include everything the critic doesn’t like) it will include all three of these characters, and their entrenched disagreements. You don’t get to posit liberal Christianity as a single system that’s meant to account for all of these ways of being religious, and then have your big gotcha be that—surprise!!—it doesn’t. You’ve just conflated your Wakefields, so to speak. Frankly, it gives the impression that you’re not arguing in good faith.
(Of course, if you were arguing in good faith, presumably you’d also take into account things like: 1) Demographic shifts that caused mainline Protestants to move away from the big expensive church buildings their parents’ generation had built, often along—d’oh!—streetcar lines. 2) The fact that religious attendance is down across the board, as is confidence in institutional religion. And 3) The fact that technological advances have made it more and more possible for someone to surround herself only with people who agree with her and confirm what she says. This made certain liberal endeavors—such as the practice of listening to your opponent as though you might have some basis for genuine conversation, and in any case you’re stuck with each other—seem a little outdated. More’s the pity.)
But if we’re going to talk about internal contradictions, let's talk about the one where only certain things count as theological convictions. In his recent book Bad Religion, Douthat gives some hallmarks of the kind of grounded, stable, uncompromising, historically-informed Christianity he thinks is capable of standing on principle and enduring through time. Those hallmarks include belief in the incarnation, atonement, Trinity, virgin birth, everlasting life, and authority of Scripture. True Christians believe these things. Christian traditions that don’t espouse them amount to “pseudo-Christianities.”
Likewise, in this most recent column, Douthat claims that “the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that perhaps they should pause amid their frantic renovations and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.”
Aha. So there’s “defending something uncompromisingly to the world” on the one hand, and “changing historic Christianity to offer just secular liberalism” on the other? Nope, sorry. That framing won’t do. It’s a set-up, and I think we need to call shenanigans.
Witness! (Ahem.) “From what we know of him, Jesus resisted the self-important piety of the powerful, and stood instead with the ones they were oppressing, and in so doing revealed how God is. Therefore, I think following Jesus means doing the same in the very different context in which I live, and specifically resisting the institutional sexism and institutional homophobia which have informed so much of Chrisitian piety. This will mean that I can’t spin romantic and rosy tales about What The Church Has Always Taught. It may not be popular. But I believe it to be true.”
This is a theological claim about who God is and what Jesus reveals about God. It is a principle. It is one that it's possible to hold, and defend, at great cost to oneself. It’s a claim around which communities can gather. You can teach it to your kids. Worship services can be constructed around it. It can, and does, inspire people to do things that are hard and unrewarding. You can care about it so much that popularity becomes secondary.
Douthat disagrees with it, presumably, but disagreement isn’t really the issue here. That claim does not simply factor out to secular liberalism without remainder. If he thinks it does, he needs to make that case. He needs to explain why his argument isn’t a circular one wherein “Real Christian convictions are A, B, and C, but liberal Christians say D, and therefore liberal Christians don’t have real Christian convictions.” And he might do well, moreover, to listen to why some people have found his checklist implausible. Unless “uncompromising” has truly come to mean just pronouncing what you know to be true, in which case I suppose there’s little point in attempting any sort of conversation at all. Back to stories, then.·          

Theo-Lib Watch: TEC Bp. Stacy Saul's Laughable Defense of GC 2012

Stacy Sauls
The man, Bishop Stacy Sauls, a theological liberal, is in an alternative moral universe than classical Christendom.  Stacy recalls his conversation with a disaffected Episcopalian in Savannah, GA.  Of course, 1000s have fled the TEC.  66% over 43 years and 23% over the last decade.  Many have seen these capitulations for decades, e.g. your's truly and 1000s of others. What's laughable, if it weren't so sad, is this forlorn effort to shape this narrative:  we are radically faithful to our tradition.  In what world does this blind man live?  (I met one of Stacy's TEC hacks years ago.  A total disastre as a cleric.  Alot of people and I mean "alot" of people were hurt by this hack.)  These recent GC 2012 issues are one fruit of liberalism, amongst other rotten fruits from the poisonous tree.   Stacy will die soon and he can find out, then, how things play out for him.  Of course, he doesn’t probably believe in biblical words like sin, condemnation, lawlessness and immorality...for starters. (They chopped some of those things away in the larger effort to expunge a whole range of biblical categories.  Actually, shorn of theology, these liberals have little else to agitate for and advance.) 

In one sense, it's not our fight.  In another, we have a duty to speak and that we do. May God be faithful to our children and grandchildren in their generations according to their birthright and the divine promises in the baptisms.  May they raise the faithful and manful banner. 

Episcopal Church Is Radically Faithful to Its Tradition

Space does not permit a correction of the numerous factual points I could dispute in Jay Akasie's "What Ails the Episcopalians" (Houses of Worship, July 13). Instead, I offer a spiritual correction.

The church has been captive to the dominant culture, which has rewarded it with power, privilege and prestige for a long, long time. The Episcopal Church is now liberating itself from that, and as the author correctly notes, paying the price. I hardly see paying the price as what ails us. I see it as what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Many years ago when I was a parish priest in Savannah, a local politician and disaffected Episcopalian began a conversation with me. In that case the subject was homosexuality. It could have been any of the things mentioned last week as our ailments. "I just think the church should not be governed by the culture," he said. I replied that I agreed with him, but that "I just hadn't noticed that the culture was all that hospitable toward gay people." He stammered. "Well, maybe not here in Georgia."

The Episcopal Church is on record as standing by those the culture marginalizes whether that be nonwhite people, female people or gay people. The author calls that political correctness hostile to tradition.

I call it profoundly countercultural but hardly untraditional. In fact, it is deeply true to the tradition of Jesus, Jesus who offended the "traditionalists" of his own day, Jesus who was known to associate with the less than desirable, Jesus who told his followers to seek him among the poor. It is deeply true to the tradition of the Apostle Paul who decried human barriers of race, sex, or status (Galatians 3:28).

What ails the Episcopalians is that this once most-established class of American Christianity is taking the risk to be radically true to its tradition. There is a price to be paid for that. There is also a promise of abundant life in it.

Bishop Stacy F. Sauls

Chief Operating Officer

The Episcopal Church

New York

Decadence Watch: Marriage Redefintion Platform Will Disadvantage Democratic Party

On this end, it is time for increased academic involvement, work and readings on the "sociology of the family," e.g. divorce, single-parent homes, poverty as a result, absence of theological catechesis, integrity issues in government and media, and another review of Edward Gibbons's The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.  It is time to add sociological studies in the inter-disciplinary inquiry to our ignorance of the Ten Commandments.  The Family Research Council believes the Democratic platform favouring sodomy, lesbianism and trans-generism will result in an electorate shift.  We wonder about the impact amongst blue collar Dems in MI, for example, or black evangelical churches, faithful Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jews.  32 of 32 states, that is, 64% of all U.S. states have passed legislative variants of the view that marriage is between one man and one woman.  North Carolina just passed their version a few months ago. Time for readings in lawlessness, moral relativism, and the other fruits of indifference, incompetence, indecision and narcissism.  The same-sex marriage is one in a larger constellation of issues that need review. We can surely add liberal theology in the mainline as an ingredient in the dynamic. Imagine if the mainliners were in resistance to "going with the flow?"  But, what do dead men and women know, unable to free themselves from themselves, unable to see, unable to hear, unable to sense, unable to feel and utterly disabled from re-ordered and re-orienting thought, affection and volition.  1000s of leaders are dead (Eph. 2.1, inter alia ad significum.)

Press Release

CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Darin Miller, (866) FRC-NEWS or (866) 372-6397

Marriage Redefinition Platform Will Disadvantage Democratic Party

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, it was reported that the Democratic Party plans to include a marriage redefinition plank within the party platform.

Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, released the following statement:

"News that the Democratic platform will endorse changing the definition of marriage is not a surprise, in the wake of President Obama's announcement of support for the concept. However, this will not help the party politically in November.

"Thirty-two out of 32 states where voters have weighed in on the issue have upheld marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If President Obama were to lose those 32 states, he would face an electoral debacle. In addition, while opposition to same-sex 'marriage' may have become politically incorrect in the Democratic Party at the national level, there are many Democratic members of Congress, and office-holders further down the ticket, who live in states and districts where it will be a serious disadvantage to be identified with 'the gay marriage party.'

"Gov. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, should not shy away from making a clear distinction with President Obama and the Democrats on this issue.

"We expect that the Republican Party will maintain its strong support for one-man-one-woman marriage in their platform. The current Republican platform reflects the voters in 32 states who have voted to preserve marriage. The American people have done so because of their deep appreciation for the unique and irreplaceable benefits that marriage between a man and a woman gives to children and society."

FRC staff will attend the Republican Party platform meetings in Tampa , FL on August 20-21, 2012. To arrange an on-site interview, contact the FRC press office at (866) 372-6397.