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Source: (consider it) Thread: Doctrine in the Episcopal church
Autenrieth Road

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I was in a conversation recently with a friend who said the Episcopal church (TEC) doesn't have any doctrine. I disagreed, and although I didn't say it this clearly then, what I think is that there's a lot of doctrine expressed through our liturgy.

The context was that I was talking about my sojourn with the Quakers, and one of the things that drew me to them (from the Episcopal church) was that they have no doctrine. That was when my friend said the Episcopal church has no doctrine. But I disagree. We say the Nicene creed at every service. At every baptism, we're asked to assent to the Apostle's creed and the baptismal covenant. At confirmation, we're examined again. We have beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, articulated through the liturgy. So I think all that adds up to doctrine.

What do you think? Does the Episcopal church have doctrine, yes or no? And what does doctrine mean to you? Does your church have doctrine? In what is it embodied: liturgy, declarations, canons, etc.?

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Truth

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Evensong
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The Anglican Church of Australia has a doctrine commission so I assume we have doctrine. [Big Grin]

Perhaps the sticky point is that each one has their own?

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Zach82
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The Episcopal Church certainly has doctrine, and needs to become less reluctant to say so. "Faith without doctrine" is just more of the dusty bric-a-brac that appeals the "spiritual but not religious" crowd.

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Autenrieth Road

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Googled "doctrine of the episcopal church" and found this: Episcopal church core beliefs and doctrines.

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Truth

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Emendator Liturgia
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Without touching on the state of doctrine within TEC, of which I have little first-hand knowledge, I would argue that TEC, like all other parts of the Anglican Communion, is established upon a set of biblical and doctrinal principles: Scripture, the Creeds, the works of the Church Fathers, and the ongoing inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Evangeline, I would suggest that the Australian Doctrine Commission (and each diocesan doctrine commissions) are not as important in defining whether we have doctrine or not, and what that doctrine is, as are the various historical statements which define us as Christians (the Creeds, etc), as Anglicans (the 39 Articles, the Prayer Book of Common Prayer etc), and as Australian Anglicans (our history, the Constitution of TACA, and our prayer/hymn books). This, of course, applies to each and every other member of the Anglican Communion, as well as to every other branch of the Christian community.

Liturgy (of whatever form, style, expression or mode)is indeed a powerful expression of doctrinal and credal statement. Indeed, liturgy in many cases pre-dates formal doctrinal statements.

The relationship between liturgy and faith and the teaching of the church (doctrine) has been long established, with almost all scholars familiar with Prosper of Aquitance's axiom: "ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi", which is loosely translatable as "the law of prayer is the law of belief". (Which was used in modern statements of doctrine such as Mediator Dei, for instance.

Prosper's axiom provides a measure for how the ancient Christian creeds, the canon of scripture and other doctrinal matters came to be based on the prayer texts of the Church, that is, the Church's liturgy. In the Early Church there was liturgical tradition long before before there was a common creed and before there was an officially sanctioned biblical canon. These liturgical traditions provided the theological framework for establishing the creeds and canon.

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Gee D
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No doctrine please, we're Anglican after all. Otherwise what Zach82 and Emli have said.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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Sir Pellinore
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quote:
Originally posted by Emendator Liturgia:
...
In the Early Church there was liturgical tradition long before before there was a common creed and before there was an officially sanctioned biblical canon. These liturgical traditions provided the theological framework for establishing the creeds and canon.

The Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches would go further and say it is not liturgical tradition (as described above) but Church Tradition, guaranteed by Christ himself through the Holy Spirit, which encompasses the Creeds and Bible.

This is where you do have a problem with a post-Reformation Church which does not have a sense of Continuing Tradition but bases its beliefs on the Bible, Creeds, 39 Articles and other documents and practices which postdate the Early (and some would say continuing) Church.

One of the problems with Anglicans, in Australia and elsewhere, is that what should be clear, basic Church doctrines are seen through a variety of viewpoints. Evangelicals (in the traditional Anglican sense); traditional High Church people (including Anglo-Catholics) and theological Liberals see many matters of belief differently. This helps explain the sharp divisions in the Communion worldwide.

The late Archbishop Ramsey, a superb theologian, was able to understand and expound these different viewpoints as part of the same Anglican comprehensiveness with tolerance. Sadly, there are not many like him today.

It is interesting that Zach, who studies at a Roman Catholic seminary, can see the need to present basic Christian (and Anglican) doctrines clearly. My feeling is that someone from the local Anglican theological college in Brisbane might not be able to do this presentation. Years ago the late Bishop Stephen Neill commented on the theological ignorance of the average Anglican ordinand. Not much seems to have changed since he said this.

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Well...

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Anglican_Brat
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For essentials, my understanding is that Anglicanism officially has no doctrine other than that agreed to by the Undivided catholic Church, namely the Creeds and the decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Insofar as people recite the Creeds on Sundays and at Baptisms, these essential doctrines are required assent by all confessing to be Anglicans.

Now as Blessed Queen Bess once famously said, "I make no windows into men's souls", we can't at the end of the day, force people to believe. However, it is a duty to teach and proclaim catholic Christianity which would give people the opportunity to decide for themselves.

For non-essentials, such as the historic Episcopate and the nature of the Eucharist, such matters are part of Anglican teachings but are not necessarily required by every Anglican. Clergy however, have a certain obligation to uphold these teachings as sound and part of the faith, doctrine and discipline of the church.

[ 13. October 2012, 13:33: Message edited by: Anglican_Brat ]

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Emendator Liturgia:
In the Early Church there was liturgical tradition long before before there was a common creed and before there was an officially sanctioned biblical canon.

All three existed from the very begining. They had Jewish liturgy, Jewish doctrine, and Jewish scriptures because they started as Jews. There never was a church that didn't have a canon of Scripture. Of course they changed it a little when they added the New Testament.

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Ken

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The Silent Acolyte

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ken, around the year AD 30, outside of the Tanakh, what was the canon of scripture?

[ 13. October 2012, 19:24: Message edited by: The Silent Acolyte ]

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ken
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Nothing, because the Tanakh was the canon of Scripture. (Probably - Torah & prophets certainly)

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Ken

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Sir Pellinore
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Even in the very early post-Resurrection days, ken, I think the Early Church had moved beyond its Jewish origins. Some may not have fully grasped that but it had. The expulsion from the synagogue might have made some finally realise this.

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Well...

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Belle Ringer
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I don't knows what counts a doctrine or something else but the Episcopal church definitely has rules, like strictly limiting who is allowed to say certain prayers or blessings.
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Ruudy
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
Nothing, because the Tanakh was the canon of Scripture. (Probably - Torah & prophets certainly)

given the clear use (in most though not all instances) of the Septuagint by the New Testament authors, my vote would be for the Septuagint over the Tanakh as the Jewish canon in 30 AD.

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The shipmate formerly known as Goar.

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Net Spinster
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quote:
Originally posted by Ruudy:
quote:
Originally posted by ken:
Nothing, because the Tanakh was the canon of Scripture. (Probably - Torah & prophets certainly)

given the clear use (in most though not all instances) of the Septuagint by the New Testament authors, my vote would be for the Septuagint over the Tanakh as the Jewish canon in 30 AD.
The NT is written in Greek for Greek speakers so it isn't surprising the Greek translation of older Hebrew or Aramaic writings would have been used. It is probable none of the writers of the NT knew Hebrew (except maybe Paul). However other Jews did know Hebrew and did use the Hebrew versions (scribes weren't called scribes for nothing) and the Rabbinic tradition that survives (other traditions didn't) to this day uses the original Hebrew.

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Ruudy
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quote:
Originally posted by Net Spinster:
quote:
Originally posted by Ruudy:
quote:
Originally posted by ken:
Nothing, because the Tanakh was the canon of Scripture. (Probably - Torah & prophets certainly)

given the clear use (in most though not all instances) of the Septuagint by the New Testament authors, my vote would be for the Septuagint over the Tanakh as the Jewish canon in 30 AD.
The NT is written in Greek for Greek speakers so it isn't surprising the Greek translation of older Hebrew or Aramaic writings would have been used. It is probable none of the writers of the NT knew Hebrew (except maybe Paul). However other Jews did know Hebrew and did use the Hebrew versions (scribes weren't called scribes for nothing) and the Rabbinic tradition that survives (other traditions didn't) to this day uses the original Hebrew.
I don't disagree with most of what you say. Though I am unsure as to how much Hebrew was actually used at the time even among Jewish communities - I hear Jesus spoke Aramaic. For me the question to be asked is not "What was the Jewish canon in 30AD?", but rather "What was the Jewish canon among the Christian sect at about that time?" I feel we are heading into tangent territory and do not wish to derail from Ken's point about there having been a scriptural canon or even canons among Jews at the time of Christ.

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The shipmate formerly known as Goar.

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Zappa
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle Ringer:
I don't knows what counts a doctrine or something else but the Episcopal church definitely has rules, like strictly limiting who is allowed to say certain prayers or blessings.

Oh, there's doctrines, and Articles, and then there's constitutions, and there's canons (of the law kind, not the two-footed kind or the bang bang kind), and there's standing orders, and there's ... [Snore]

Most of it is common sense with some traditional parameters ... the 'who says what' in a liturgy is rooted deeply in historical practice, usually ratified by the above thingies .... [Ultra confused]

[ 14. October 2012, 04:00: Message edited by: Zappa ]

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SeraphimSarov
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:



For non-essentials, such as the historic Episcopate and the nature of the Eucharist, .

From your mouth to God's ear [Roll Eyes]
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The Silent Acolyte

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quote:
Originally posted by Ruudy:
quote:
Originally posted by ken:
Nothing, because the Tanakh was the canon of Scripture. (Probably - Torah & prophets certainly)

given the clear use (in most though not all instances) of the Septuagint by the New Testament authors, my vote would be for the Septuagint over the Tanakh as the Jewish canon in 30 AD.
Silly me. One part of my brain was so focused on spelling Tanakh correctly that the part in charge of content failed to notice that Torah was the word I wanted.

But, Ruudy succeeded in taking us where I wanted to go.

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Mr. Rob
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:


What do you think? Does the Episcopal church have doctrine, yes or no? And what does doctrine mean to you? Does your church have doctrine? In what is it embodied: liturgy, declarations, canons, etc.?

Hmmm ... that's quite a Lutheran sounding set of questions to ask any Episcopalians.

[Ultra confused]

*

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Mockingbird

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quote:
Originally posted by The Silent Acolyte:
ken, around the year AD 30, outside of the Tanakh, what was the canon of scripture?

Josephus, writing somewhat later than AD 30, wrote
quote:
We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past time; which are justly believed to be divine. And of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time.
--Against Apion 1.8

So we have the law, the prophets, the psalms, proverbs, and two others. I'm not sure how he gets thirteen prophetic books from the eight (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and "The Twelve") of the modern Jewish count, but it could be done in a number of ways. Scholars have made various proposals. Possibly he divides and combines books differently from the modern Jewish count, or possibly he is making up some of the slack using some books (Daniel? Ruth? Nehemiah?) that the modern count designates "Writings" rather than "Prophets".

Joshua ben-Sira's grandson, writing around 130 BC, writes about his grandfather studying "the law and the prophets and the other books of our fathers." (Ecclus. Prolog.) In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says to his disciples, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." (24.44). The psalms are frequently quoted in the New Testament, and of the books of the Hebrew scriptures they were a runaway favorite among 2nd/3rd-century Christians if the surviving Greek Christian manuscripts are a representative sample. The following is Larry Hurtado's survey of surviving Christian manuscripts of the 2nd-3rd centuries:

Genesis: 8 MSS.
Exodus: 8
Leviticus: 3
Numbers: 1
Deuteronomy: 2
Joshua: 1
Judges: 1
2 Chronicles: 2
Esther: 2
Job: 1
Psalms: 18
Proverbs: 2
Ecclesiastes: 2
Wisdom: 1
ben-Sira: 2
Isaiah: 6
Jeremiah: 2
Ezekiel: 2
Daniel: 2
Susannah/Bel & Dragon: 1
Minor Prophets: 2
Tobit: 2
2 Maccabees: 1 (in Coptic rather than in Greek.)

In his footnotes Hurtado notes that two of the eighteen Psalm MSS might be Jewish rather than Christian.

This evidence strongly suggests to me that, of the Writings, the Psalms, at least, have always been popular and respected among Christians. I also take it to mean that, though the concept of "canon" seems to have existed in some form for some writers such as Josephus (though the word "canon" was not used in such a context this early so far as I can tell) there was no unanimity about what this "canon" was.

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Ruudy
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Thanks for the Hurtado survey. Great stuff.

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The shipmate formerly known as Goar.

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Autenrieth Road

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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Rob:
quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:


What do you think? Does the Episcopal church have doctrine, yes or no? And what does doctrine mean to you? Does your church have doctrine? In what is it embodied: liturgy, declarations, canons, etc.?

Hmmm ... that's quite a Lutheran sounding set of questions to ask any Episcopalians.
I've spent a lot of time with Lutherans. OK, so maybe this explains an exchange I had with the same friend, where I said Christianity is about belief, and she said something like "of course it isn't, what gave you that idea?" and I'm thinking, "we say the Nicene creed at every service! We're asked to affirm the Apostle's creed at baptisms! And (here comes the, possibly misunderstood by me, Lutheran influence) Paul says we can't win our salvation by our own works, so it can't be a religion about what we do."

So have I misunderstood? What is Christianity, if not about belief? The Episcopal church may not ask one to believe anything more than the traditional formulations of faith, but that's more than nothing. And even if the traditional formulations are interpreted liberally by someone, that person is still assenting that belief is somehow important, and not just ditching the formulations and saying "it doesn't matter what you believe about this.". I think. (I'm imagining lots of holes that could be poked in this; my thoughts are a little bit influx on this, but I don't think it's *obvious* that Christianity isn't about belief. But everyone else involved in that discussion thought I was obviously wrong on this. So I'm baffled right now.

[ 16. October 2012, 02:27: Message edited by: Autenrieth Road ]

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Truth

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gorpo
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
At confirmation, we're examined again. We have beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, articulated through the liturgy. So I think all that adds up to doctrine.

It makes no sense that someone must be examined to be a lay member of the church, while atheists can become bishops. Does your presiding bishop believes in christianity and things like the ressurrection, incarnation, etc, as anything more then significant metaphors? Are there some bishops who even believe that stuff? Is it ok that John Spong basically said most of the Bible was pure bollocks, that Jesus body has probably been eaten by worms, and still carried on being a bishop in this denomination for years? It would be better not to "say" the creeds during the liturgy at all, if none of that stuff is meant to be taken seriously.
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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
At confirmation, we're examined again. We have beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, articulated through the liturgy. So I think all that adds up to doctrine.

It makes no sense that someone must be examined to be a lay member of the church, while atheists can become bishops. Does your presiding bishop believes in christianity and things like the ressurrection, incarnation, etc, as anything more then significant metaphors? Are there some bishops who even believe that stuff? Is it ok that John Spong basically said most of the Bible was pure bollocks, that Jesus body has probably been eaten by worms, and still carried on being a bishop in this denomination for years? It would be better not to "say" the creeds during the liturgy at all, if none of that stuff is meant to be taken seriously.
If people lose their faith, and don't leave the church, what do you recommend? Heresy trials?
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Grammatica
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Ho hum. I was wondering how long it would be before this interesting and intelligent thread was derailed into the standard Piskiebash --

Not long at all -- here it is!

spong spong spong spong spong spong spong spong

Bored now, no longer interested in things people may say here.

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Autenrieth Road

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Grammatica, I am hoping that along with any piskiebash, that substantive replies will continue to be posted, and make the thread worth following.

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Truth

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Autenrieth Road

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Actually, I'm interested in the questions implicitly raised by gorpo's post. What do you do when your faith is no longer orthodox? Or at least when you perceive that your faith is no longer orthodox?

During EfM, I've read summaries of the thought of theologians. Now, I have to admit I struggle with understanding them, and when I try to read the theologians directly, I struggle even more. But what my reading suggests to me is that often theologians are engaged with reinterpreting the faith as much as they are with explaining what came before. I suppose it stands to reason; someone merely explaining what came before is not going to become famous in the same way someone with a new point of view is.

But my point is, many famous respectable Christians find different ways to interpret the Christian faith.

I like what Arethosemyfeet suggests, that stopping going to church need not be the default option for those with a faith in crisis or even beyond crisis and lost. It's OK, and can even be good, to attend church while doubting all your own Christianity.

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Truth

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Autenrieth Road

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Going for a triple... I hope readers will forgive me; I've had three separate thoughts at slightly spaced intervals.

I'm looking more closely at the Episcopal core beliefs and doctrines I posted earlier. Now, it's not clear to me that these are necessarily specifically Episcopal core beliefs and doctrines; I'd like to think (apart from the Book of Common Prayer, and perhaps the specific wording of the catechism) that they're common Christian core beliefs and doctrines.

But my point is this: most of them don't twig my belief-meter. They don't register to me as beliefs in the same way as the creeds register to me as being about belief, and they don't have me inwardly shrieking "I don't believe this."

The categories are baptismal covenant, the Bible, Book of Common Prayer, the catechism, Christ-focused, the creeds, holy baptism, holy communion, the sacraments, and spiritual growth. And reading through this list, the ones I struggle with are the creeds, Christ-focused, and part of the baptismal covenant.

I struggle with the creeds because I struggle with belief. I struggle with even believing in God (I don't know how a disbelief in God squares with my belief that Jesus was raised from the dead, or my absolute incomprehension of why Jesus was raised from the dead, but I suppose it all serves as a terrible object lesson in the fact that one's beliefs need not be consistent), let alone the specific statements about God in the creeds. I struggle with some statements more than others.

I struggle with the baptismal covenant because I always feel as if the six questions asked after the apostle's creed in the modern Episcopal service are not the vows made on my behalf when I was baptised, or affirmed when I was confirmed, so it makes me feel as if they're not really my vows. A careful reading of the vows that actually were made for and by me suggests that I'm not actually off the hook in terms of making commitments, but I think that reading also inspires actual reflection on what it means to renounce evil, instead of having it prefed to you in six ready-made soundbites.

I struggle with Christ-focused because (despite my belief in Jesus' resurrection) I don't understand what it means to acknowledge Jesus as saviour. I don't understand how the crucifixion and resurrection brings about salvation. (My sig is more aspirational than declarative about my own beliefs.) So I don't understand really what Christ-focused means. Plus my thought ranges more widely than narrowly finding all my ethics solely in pondering Jesus' ethics, so I'm not sure I even really want to be Christ-focused in that sense. A whole discussion could be had out of what Christ-focused means, though -- I'm not sure I really understand it.

But that's where my doubts and disbeliefs lie. On the positive side of the ledger, as for the value and meaning of baptism, the book of common prayer, communion, sacraments, and spiritual growth, for those I accept their value and meaning. Completely.

I haven't mentioned the catechism yet, and that's because I have a bifurcated attitude about it. I don't necessarily agree with all the statements in it, but because it's not repeated every single Sunday (or even repeated ever, in my experience), it doesn't have a backdrop for me of "You Must Believe This". I read it with interest, and find I don't believe all it says, but my reaction somehow is not "AAACK! GET ME OUT OF HERE!" but rather, an inquisitive reaction of reflecting on the meaning of what it says, and how all the parts work together, and reflecting on the balance of what I agree with and what I don't agree with, and generally valuing it as a positive statement of a good system of beliefs, even if I can't subscribe fully to it. (For those who hold catechisms as a more formal requirement in faith, I can imagine you all rolling your eyes. Oh well.)

So this is an interesting realization to me, that there is a lot in the culture of Christianity (using culture in a somewhat anthropological sense, not in a dismissive sense) that I agree with wholeheartedly, and don't even think of in the category of belief (although to someone from outside, I guess they are about belief... "you believe WHAT when you're taking communion?!?". I don't think it's the only way, but it is the way that holds and cradles me. That gives me a way to put my struggles with belief (the smaller category of what I identify as belief) in perspective.

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Truth

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Nunc Dimittis
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Sir Pellinore said:
quote:
It is interesting that Zach, who studies at a Roman Catholic seminary, can see the need to present basic Christian (and Anglican) doctrines clearly. My feeling is that someone from the local Anglican theological college in Brisbane might not be able to do this presentation. Years ago the late Bishop Stephen Neill commented on the theological ignorance of the average Anglican ordinand. Not much seems to have changed since he said this.
Demonstrate what you have said.

I am sick and tired of people in the wider diocese running down St Francis' College. What proof do you have for your claim of theological ignorance of ordinands?

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tclune
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AR, I find the notion of belief quite unhelpful when I discuss the importance of the Church in my faith life. For me, the things that the Church adds to my faith journey are a language for talking about things that are very hard to put into words and many stories and references that can aid in the attempt to give voice to the spiritual aspect of my life. Personally, I find the rampant spiritualism of the day such thin gruel that I marvel that anyone can blather in its tongues without laughing at the idiocy of it all. And I find the attraction to other cultures' spiritual traditions disingenuous and imperialistic, with all the patronizing overtones that implies. As Peter said, "To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life."

--Tom Clune

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Zach82
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I wouldn't frame is a the average Anglican seminarian being ignorant of theology, but the emphasis of the average seminarian these days is on mission, rather than dogma. We've lost the idea that the primary ethical act of a Christian is to proclaim the Word of God.

To support this I have little more than anecdotal evidence. Emphasis on mission isn't bad in itself, but I do think there needs to be a renewed emphasis on doctrine as a corrective to mission without dogma. Naturally I see the solution to all this as being a renewed interest in Karl Barth, but I would think so.

As a side comment, there is no shortage of "mission oriented" seminarians in Catholic seminaries either.

[ 16. October 2012, 13:43: Message edited by: Zach82 ]

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Anglican_Brat
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
At confirmation, we're examined again. We have beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, articulated through the liturgy. So I think all that adds up to doctrine.

It makes no sense that someone must be examined to be a lay member of the church, while atheists can become bishops. Does your presiding bishop believes in christianity and things like the ressurrection, incarnation, etc, as anything more then significant metaphors? Are there some bishops who even believe that stuff? Is it ok that John Spong basically said most of the Bible was pure bollocks, that Jesus body has probably been eaten by worms, and still carried on being a bishop in this denomination for years? It would be better not to "say" the creeds during the liturgy at all, if none of that stuff is meant to be taken seriously.
For the millionth time...

Most of Bishop Spong's more radical beliefs were expressed after he retired. No one has ever stated that Spong's opinions reflected the mainstream of the Episcopal Church. Indeed, I think he would be the first to say that his views are not representative of the majority of the Episcopal Church.

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Zach82
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quote:
For the millionth time...

Most of Bishop Spong's more radical beliefs were expressed after he retired. No one has ever stated that Spong's opinions reflected the mainstream of the Episcopal Church. Indeed, I think he would be the first to say that his views are not representative of the majority of the Episcopal Church.

Didn't you know Spong, Schori, and Robinson are the only bishops we have ever had?

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Don't give up yet, no, don't ever quit/ There's always a chance of a critical hit. Ghost Mice

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Comper's Child
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quote:
Originally posted by Grammatica:
Ho hum. I was wondering how long it would be before this interesting and intelligent thread was derailed into the standard Piskiebash --

Not long at all -- here it is!

spong spong spong spong spong spong spong spong

Bored now, no longer interested in things people may say here.

Just the title of the thread told me that's what it was about.
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CL
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
For the millionth time...

Most of Bishop Spong's more radical beliefs were expressed after he retired. No one has ever stated that Spong's opinions reflected the mainstream of the Episcopal Church. Indeed, I think he would be the first to say that his views are not representative of the majority of the Episcopal Church.

Didn't you know Spong, Schori, and Robinson are the only bishops we have ever had?
Your problem is that they (and Pike), whether fairly or unfairly, define you in the larger Christian community and beyond, and indeed to many within TEC itself.
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Comper's Child
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quote:
Originally posted by CL:
quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
For the millionth time...

Most of Bishop Spong's more radical beliefs were expressed after he retired. No one has ever stated that Spong's opinions reflected the mainstream of the Episcopal Church. Indeed, I think he would be the first to say that his views are not representative of the majority of the Episcopal Church.

Didn't you know Spong, Schori, and Robinson are the only bishops we have ever had?
Your problem is that they (and Pike), whether fairly or unfairly, define you in the larger Christian community and beyond, and indeed to many within TEC itself.
It is entirely unfair, but that doesn't stop certain *ahem* individuals from continuing to harp on such examples. Imagine if you will the thread title was say Do pedophile priests define the Catholic Church?
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Beeswax Altar
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I just don't think Spong's views are all that uncommon among Episcopal clergy. I've heard it with my own ears. I'm in a position to know.

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Autenrieth Road

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quote:
Originally posted by Comper's Child:
quote:
Originally posted by Grammatica:
Ho hum. I was wondering how long it would be before this interesting and intelligent thread was derailed into the standard Piskiebash --

Not long at all -- here it is!

spong spong spong spong spong spong spong spong

Bored now, no longer interested in things people may say here.

Just the title of the thread told me that's what it was about.
If that's what the thread title told you, then I regret choosing the title poorly. That's not what I was interested in when I posed the OP. There's much more here to consider than other people's caricature of the Episcopal church.

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Truth

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Autenrieth Road

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quote:
Originally posted by tclune:
AR, I find the notion of belief quite unhelpful when I discuss the importance of the Church in my faith life. For me, the things that the Church adds to my faith journey are a language for talking about things that are very hard to put into words and many stories and references that can aid in the attempt to give voice to the spiritual aspect of my life. Personally, I find the rampant spiritualism of the day such thin gruel that I marvel that anyone can blather in its tongues without laughing at the idiocy of it all. And I find the attraction to other cultures' spiritual traditions disingenuous and imperialistic, with all the patronizing overtones that implies. As Peter said, "To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life."

I left the Episcopal Church for several years at one point over the matter of belief. What eventually enabled me to go back was taking a history of religion course, and talking about myth as the stories that are truer than truth. (Any inaccuracies here are entirely my doing, and not the fault of the lecturer.) So I got to a very low ebb in my life, and I thought, "I don't know if these really happened, and I don't know if God exists, I don't even really believe that God exists, but I belive in something very strongly and God is the best word I know for it; plus the Christian stories are, for better or worse, the stories I grew up with, so they are the stories that resonate for me."

And then a few years ago that bargain started to unravel. (I didn't see it as a bargain when I first went back to church, but once it started to unravel, that's what it came to seem like.) I came to feel like I still believed passionately in the same core beliefs as always, but they didn't need to be called by the name "God" any more.

I'm not even sure I know what a faith life is, but I suppose I have one even if I can't define it, but it is becoming more eclectic and I am finding value in other sources alongside Christianity.

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Truth

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
I was in a conversation recently with a friend who said the Episcopal church (TEC) doesn't have any doctrine. I disagreed, and although I didn't say it this clearly then, what I think is that there's a lot of doctrine expressed through our liturgy.

We most certainly do have doctrine, and it's largely expressed through our liturgy. We don't have doctrines that are unique to the Episcopal Church, and I like that. Being an Episcopalian is thus simply one way to practice Christianity.

Christianity is of course about beliefs -- too much so, I think, at least in my experience. I think this is particularly a problem in Protestantism, where in efforts to avoid advocating justification by works, we can sometimes paint ourselves into the corner of saying what we believe is all that matters. Ultimately, I think what we truly believe is reflected in our works. If we don't live as if we believe we're redeemed by Christ, do we truly believe it? And by "believe" I don't mean "give intellectual assent to" -- I mean, "stake our lives on."

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tclune
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
I'm not even sure I know what a faith life is, but I suppose I have one even if I can't define it, but it is becoming more eclectic and I am finding value in other sources alongside Christianity.

Oddly, I both can identify with what you write and find myself in a very different place. As I have aged, I have come to shed the belief that other people (at least the deep and wise ones, of course) are just like me. I find myself less able to view other traditions as being open to me at all, and I find my Christianity both more fully reflective of who I am and more idiosyncratic. While I think that faith is essentially communal, it does not seem to be particularly public, if that communicates at all.

--Tom Clune

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Garasu
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quote:
Originally posted by tclune:
I have come to shed the belief that other people (at least the deep and wise ones, of course) are just like me. I find myself less able to view other traditions as being open to me at all, and I find my Christianity both more fully reflective of who I am and more idiosyncratic. While I think that faith is essentially communal, it does not seem to be particularly public, if that communicates at all.

--Tom Clune

I'm not sure I understand, which is a reflection on me rather than you.

Is this equivalent to saying "I can only appreciate jazz music." (Which would be communal in the sense that there's a whole group of people who appreciate jazz music; but not public, in the sense that some people just don't get it)?

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"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

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tclune
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quote:
Originally posted by Garasu:
Is this equivalent to saying "I can only appreciate jazz music." (Which would be communal in the sense that there's a whole group of people who appreciate jazz music; but not public, in the sense that some people just don't get it)?

I think it's more like saying that I appreciate jazz, but I don't have a well-developed sense of how other afficionados are responding to it. While the stimulus appears to be the same, the response is often quite different in ways that I am unable to predict.

Nonetheless, jazz continues to be created by the community in ways that I appreciate (often) and gives me some assurance that something not entirely dissimilar to what I am experiencing is going on with other members of the group.

--Tom Clune

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Autenrieth Road

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quote:
If we don't live as if we believe we're redeemed by Christ, do we truly believe it? And by "believe" I don't mean "give intellectual assent to" -- I mean, "stake our lives on." [/QB]
What does "redeemed by Christ" mean? How does it change how we live our lives?

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Truth

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Fr Weber
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
At confirmation, we're examined again. We have beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, articulated through the liturgy. So I think all that adds up to doctrine.

It makes no sense that someone must be examined to be a lay member of the church, while atheists can become bishops. Does your presiding bishop believes in christianity and things like the ressurrection, incarnation, etc, as anything more then significant metaphors? Are there some bishops who even believe that stuff? Is it ok that John Spong basically said most of the Bible was pure bollocks, that Jesus body has probably been eaten by worms, and still carried on being a bishop in this denomination for years? It would be better not to "say" the creeds during the liturgy at all, if none of that stuff is meant to be taken seriously.
If people lose their faith, and don't leave the church, what do you recommend? Heresy trials?
Not unless they go around proclaiming that their lack of belief *is* the correct faith--which is pretty much what Spong does.

I'm aware that Spong is a fringe case in TEC in many ways. What scandalizes me about him is not that he doesn't believe, but that he is permitted to teach his non-belief without censure. If I woke up one morning and found that I no longer believed the Christian faith, I would leave my clericals in the closet, resign my position, and take up a hobby on Sunday mornings--it would be only honorable.

I agree with Zach's observation concerning mission and dogmatics. It seems to me that the two are strongly linked; how can we be evangelists if we reduce the Evangel to "Be nice to each other, everybody!"?

In regard to the thread title, clearly the Episcopal Church does have doctrine, and it does teach. What makes me uncomfortable is that there is little sense that it's binding.

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"The Eucharist is not a play, and you're not Jesus."

--Sr Theresa Koernke, IHM

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Autenrieth Road

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Binding on whom? Clergy and/or laity?

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Truth

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Fr Weber
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Either or both.

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"The Eucharist is not a play, and you're not Jesus."

--Sr Theresa Koernke, IHM

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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
I just don't think Spong's views are all that uncommon among Episcopal clergy. I've heard it with my own ears. I'm in a position to know.

However, IME they must tend to keep fairly quiet about it around the laity. I don't think the reverend clergy, especially bishops with jurisdiction or active pastoral responsibilities, nor priests with an active cure of souls, should be preaching/teaching contrary to that which is set forth in the Creeds. That doesn't preclude engaging critically with the Creeds, the Tradition in general, with the pronouncements of the first Seven Oecumenical Councils, and with the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This engagement is properly an opening to broadened understandings of the foundational notions advanced by the dogmatic formularies; yet not overturning or blatantly contradicting the creedal definitions of the the nature and inter-relationships of the Triume God, Christ, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection, amongst some primary points. Within the established dogmatic framework of historic Christianity there ought to be ample room for creative exposition and speculation, but orthodoxy requires that we frame this engagement with the conceptual parameters of the received formularies. Thus, for example, creative reflection on the meaning of a Triune Deity of one "substance" expressed as three distinct "persons" is to be welcomed, but by the same token that engagement should steer clear of modalism and unitarianism, even if using those "heresies" as reference points with which we may struggle to reconcile orthodox Trinitarianism. IME this is what more theologically erudite Anglican clergy attempt to do. It's the less bright, less well-read and well educated Episcopal clergy who sometimes stray - inadvertently IMO - into formal heresy.
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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
Not unless they go around proclaiming that their lack of belief *is* the correct faith--which is pretty much what Spong does.

I'm aware that Spong is a fringe case in TEC in many ways. What scandalizes me about him is not that he doesn't believe, but that he is permitted to teach his non-belief without censure. If I woke up one morning and found that I no longer believed the Christian faith, I would leave my clericals in the closet, resign my position, and take up a hobby on Sunday mornings--it would be only honorable. [/QB]

I certainly would like it if Spong had done that, as I find him wanting to remain in the church a little bizarre. My point is that, given what he has done, what should be the response? We have two choices (a) formal disciplinary procedures, basically a trial for heresy or (b) challenge his views, teach and affirm orthodox Christianity. This is the approach taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, among others. I think it's the right one. One of the strengths of Anglicanism is the ability to entertain more than one idea. Do we really want to go back to the sort of ideas of discipline that saw tractarians sent to prison in the 19th Century?
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