Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Links

I heart Georgetown College:
Georgetown College is making a promise to five Leestown Middle School students:

Participate in a Baptist church's academic excellence program, get good grades, attend school faithfully and there will be a $40,000 scholarship waiting for each of you when you graduate from high school.

The historically white Baptist school is partnering with a predominantly black Lexington congregation, agreeing to award the scholarships to five top graduates of the First Baptist Church Bracktown's tutoring and mentoring program.

College President William Crouch will officially unveil the scholarships at Sunday morning's worship service.
Read the rest at the Herald-Leader.

Katie on criticism: "Obvious."

Richard Collins offered a great illustration of the importance of the Christian sacraments a while back.

Rowan Williams had a nice interview with the Church Times just before his visit with Pope Benedict XVI. Some highlights:
... if the Pope asked you why you persisted in remaining an Anglican, what would you say to him?

I’d say that I don’t believe the essential theological structure of the Church is pyramidal: that it has one absolute touchstone embodied in a single office. I’m certainly prepared to believe that there’s a role for the Petrine ministry of conciliation, interpretation, and mediation in the Church. I don’t see that as an executive centre; so I’d start from what would historically be called a conciliarist position.

And the thing that always held me back from becoming a Roman Catholic at the points when I thought about it is that I can’t quite swallow papal infallibility. I have visions of saying to Pope Benedict: “I don’t believe you’re infallible” — I hope it doesn’t come to that. [Laughs]

That’s how I’d answer, I think: that I’m wary of loading too much on to an individual office.

That’s why you’re not a Roman Catholic. Why are you an Anglican?

I’m an Anglican because this is — it’s what I learnt in Sunday school, really — this is the Church Catholic in this place, gathered around the word and the sacrament, exercising a canonically continuous, recognisable form of the threefold ministry, structurally slotting in with how Catholic Christianity works.

If you were starting from scratch, do you think the Anglican model works better than the Roman one?

Pwff! — by what imaginable standards would you answer that, I wonder? I don’t know, but the argument I’d give, I think, is not unrelated to what Vincent Donovan says in his book Christianity Rediscovered, responding to mission in East Africa, where he says, in a sense, you’ve got to let Churches grow out of their local setting, discover the need for recognisability, and build outwards from that. He describes the process by which some of his converts in East Africa almost invented the idea of Catholic ministry for themselves, the idea that if this is the kind of community that we are, if this is what the eucharist means, then we need that to be recognisable, and we need to know that, when we travel, it’s the same Church that we belong to, gradually accumulating like that. I think that’s a bit more Anglican than someone saying, “We’ll decide from the centre what the shape will be.”
And on the Eucharist (of course)...
I went a few months ago to give at talk at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Southwark, just down the road. And, interestingly, I was asked what I believed about the eucharist. I think my questioner was a bit surprised when I said: “Of course I believe in the real presence. I believe that Christ is active in the sacrament, and that it’s not something we do, as an act of mental remembrance. And I think he rather had the impression that that was all Anglicans ever believed. I suspect a number of Roman Catholics do think that.

... What the celebrant thinks is neither here nor there, in one way. What’s done is done. And I’m tempted sometimes to say, however much a celebrant might want to keep the real presence out, it’s still capable of coming in.
Ha! That's something Hauerwas says, too...

Ken Collins teaches us to make and use an Advent wreath.

Phil the CatholicGeek offers us some words from Chrysostom.


Zabriske said...

While certainly the Archbishop is a theologian deserving great respect and probably has well-founded views on infallibility, I still don't understand why this is such a difficult concept for protestants (and even some Catholics!) to grasp.

The doctrine doesn't say the pope is above sin. Paragraph 891 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads, "The Roman Pontiff ... enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful--who confirms his brethren in the faith--he proclaims by a defintive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals."

It doesn't say that he's above sin, nor does it say that every declaration he makes is infallible. Instead, only specific decrees that include some "definitive" wording are to be considered infallible.

My question is, if a Christian is truly Christian, why don't all accept the power of this office to definitively delineate the faith? I can see how some of the wacko-liberal churches that are only nominally Christian would have a problem, but I can only see a few not-so-major reasons why mainstream Christians would disagree. Recent popes have used infallible declarations to define marriage, abortion policy, etc. (basically moral doctrine on which nearly all Christians agree anyway), so I don't understand why Baptists, for example, so question the doctrine, unless they're just completely missing the point (or are merely biased by fervant anti-Catholicism).

As for Catholics who don't accept infallibility...isn't it an excommunicable offense to question the authority of the pope?

Any thoughts, amigos?

Zabriske said...


I should change my question from "why don't they all accept it", to "why is it so controversial?" The grounds for my argument are the same.

I just realized that it's rather silly to ask people who don't accept the pope anyway why they don't accept his infallible powers. This is, instead, a much more logical way to frame the question.

Now: have at it!

Kyle said...

I should speak for the ABC here and note that he surely does know what infallibility means, as do I: not that the Pope is somehow without sin (we remember that B16 was JP2's confessor, and that the present Pope certainly has one of his own!), but that it's the Pope's prerogative to speak for the Magisterium of the Church and to pronounce authoritatively (and finally!) on matters of doctrine. I note for my readers that it also doesn't mean that anything the Pope says and believes is somehow offered ex cathedra. You might have noticed the recent media uproar, that somehow since B16 said his newly published book on the historical Jesus isn't to be considered "infallible," he's stepping back from the doctrine of papal infallibility. Such comments betray a complete ignorance of what papal infallibility means.

Why is it controversial?

You must remember that at the core of Protestantism is the insistence that I may sit in my room all by myself and pronounce upon what the Bible "really means," and that no one can tell me what it "really means." You know I have serious problems with that.

And the Anglican position, aside from the papal office as it presently exists?

"Councils doth err." We don't believe that the Holy Spirit necessarily protects all councils from any and all error.

Anonymous said...

What struck me on the ABC's answer to why he is an Anglican it is that it is the Catholic church "in this place." Very English. Ultimately very Erastian.

And as an American member of [dfms]T[p]ECusa it offers me no reason to be Anglican outside the Realm.

Are we the Catholic Church in this country? I think not.

Boy, just didn't think I would find the ABC pushing me closer to the banks of the Tiber.

Anonymous said...

Zabriske - we do know what is meant by Papal infallibility. We also know that it is wrong!

Kyle - You 'core of protestantism' has mcuh truth but is not the whole story. In fact, one of the problems that seems to happen among Protestants is thatindividual pastors start to make their own 'infallible' pronouncements. A more common protestant view is Berean - a Scriptural check on what is being taught to make sure it is true and adds up. Collective accountability. In the case of the Papacy, we often find that its definitive pronouncements are simply wrong.

Kyle said...

If it makes anyone feel any better, I deny both papal infallibility and sola scriptura, at least as it is defined by contemporary Christians who fancy themselves as heirs to the Reformers. I'm beginning to suspect that the Reformers would not recognize or respect what modern-day Prots mean by that phrase.

And I still think that one of the primary sins of Protestantism is that it makes every man his own pope. When communities really do read Scripture together as much in line with the broader Christian tradition as they can manage, they're doing a good thing. Otherwise...