Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Do People Refer To Clergy As Father?

This question seems to be a cause of major heartburn for many folks who come to the Anglo-Catholic tradition from "lower" Church traditions. Personally speaking, I have no problem at all with parishioners referring to me as "Mr." or "Rev." or "Vicar" or even "Thierry". But let’s take a look at just why priests are called "father".

To begin with, in the Bible, the concept of fatherhood is not restricted to just our earthly fathers and God. It is used to refer to people other than biological or legal fathers, and is used as a sign of respect to those with whom we have a special relationship. We see examples of this in figures such as Joseph, Job, and Eliakim, all of whom are referred to as "father" to their particular people. In fact, in Isaiah 22, God himself refers to Eliakim as the "Father of the inhabitants of Jerusalem." Many Protestants will often refer to the 23rd chapter of Matthew in which Jesus says to call no man "Father" except God, as an example of why we should not call priests "father." In doing this, however, they are taking the entire passage out of context which was meant only for those who were taking the "highest" places at feasts. This sort of interpretation would be akin to "plucking out our eye," which Jesus also commands, or literally "taking up serpents" as many sects do, an action also mentioned in scripture. If you refuse to call priests "father" then you must be ready to pluck out your eye and also take up serpents!

The point here is to stress the importance of sound biblical interpretation.

Referring to a priest as "father" is used as a sign of respect and to indicate the special spiritual relationship the priest has with his congregation. Priests, in turn, follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their congregation as "my son/my daughter" or "my child" as evident in the Books of Galatians, Phil, Tim, Peter, and John.

This is another reason why a woman can NOT be a priest. God had designed priesthood as a male institution or priesthood as an institution for male individuals only. What God had designed and instituted, let NO man change it!


Peace and blessings!

Fr. Thierry

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3).



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Individual Interpretation And Reinventing the Wheel.

Randy Alcorn has recently repeated a common idea among many evangelicals that one should not read what others write about the bible but rather read it themselves.  We Anglicans agree- up to a point. The point is this- if one shouldn't read what Wesley and Calvin have to say, then why should one read what Randy Alcorn has to say?   This is what is known as a logical fallacy and it is called a self refuting argument.

Certainly one should read the Scriptures, they are the foundation of our faith and western civilization.  However we believe we should not be our own highest authority because the Scripture itself forbids it. A major theme of the Bible is transmission from one generation to the next without addition and subtraction.

If we are not to read others but rely solely on ourselves to read the bible at what point do we become another Wesley to those that follow us? The idea seems to rule out Sunday school as well as commentaries and study bibles. Bad news for!  Are we to believe that because we are in flesh we are superior to those whose shoulders we stand on in understanding?    Isn't that called pride?

Imagine if we applied Mr. Alcorn's philosophy to other vocations or disciplines such as medicine: "We shouldn't read the findings of other doctors, we should search the body for our own answers". Ouch.  Or how about that $600.00 iPhone in your pocket when falling in the creek (yep, I did that) while fishing?  How about an airline pilot or a SCOTUS jurist?   Isn't that exactly how the Court redefined marriage- they went it on their own disregarding precedent?  Should each successive generation ignore the opinion, training, and collective wisdom of their chosen disciplines and reinvent the wheel? What about maps or education? Surely if God's word states this principle than it should apply to everything in Creation

This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. Ps. 102:18

We should read Origen, Chrysostom, Calvin and Wesley -- writers from every age of Christ's holy Bride- they have searched the scriptures and consulted others. We should do this because Christ himself tells us he has brought his Body into "all remembrance" (John 14) and because the Bible also tells us to test all things which includes ourselves!  Why ought we not consult those whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with understanding? Where does the Bible say we must ignore the past generation charged with teaching us and reinvent the wheel?

Reading the testimony of others acts as a benchmark: most of us do not read the original languages or grasp every nuance or cultural framing so consulting other Christians to avoid misunderstanding or missing something seems wise.  Wisdom is given through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and it is given to some more than to others.   Not everyone is endowed with the same gifts and understanding doctrine is certainly a gift. "Who will teach me"?   (Psa 25:4; Acts 8:31; etc.) Honor those that teach. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." 1 Timothy 5:17

Rather than "Hand in Hand" as Mr. Alcorn's book is entitled, we would suggest "Hand to Hand" as scripture is a deposit of revelation and transmission is more than the sum of individual reading.

Have you heard the objection "you can't trust the Bible because it has been copied so many time"?  The answer to that question is the same as to Mr. Alcorn's idea:

Yes the NT has been copied over and over, but there are 29,000 extant manuscripts. Picking any text, compare all the copies, and individual mistakes become very obvious. In the same manner, reading the sermons and writings of the early church through to Wesley shows what is received and what is innovative and of individual opinion. Such stick out like a sore thumb and doctrine unknown to the majority should be suspect as outside of received teaching.

 Did God forget something and need give a new revelation after the Cross and after his deposit of revelation to the Apostles? Of course not and God doesn't tell Paul of Tarsus one thing and, for instance, John Darby another thing 18 centuries later. Neither add nor take away.

Luke records Paul given inspiration from God.
We are assured that by Jesus promise to send the Holy Spirit to 'guide us' and 'bring us into all remembrance' we can trust our forebears.  To consider those that came before us are unable to teach and to transmit what they have been given is to rob them of their solemn duty and imply the Holy Ghost and Jesus cannot keep the promises of John 14 and therefore cannot be divine.   If we omit the collective wisdom of the Body of Christ we operate under a double standard claiming the Spirit for ourselves but rejecting it in others.

Consider the biblical saying "fruit of the vine' -- is confusion the fruit of God?  Heaven forbid! But confusion is what individual interpretation brings and the division of the Body into tens of thousands of denominations demonstrates that pride and individual interpretation are the result of rejecting wisdom and sound learning simply because it is written by another.  Our collective testimony to unbelievers is compromised by individual interpretation because it objectively substitutes confusion and contradiction for the logical and objective truth of what Scripture teaches.

We believe we have a better way of discerning truth- an objective way to learn and test doctrine.  We will present that next week.  Until then -

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

John Dixon
St. Athanasius Anglican Church

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Would Not Bake That Cake

With the ruling of the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, many people are now saying that the Christian bakers in Colorado are wrong for refusing to sell cake for a gay marriage. People now suggest that the bakers illegally discriminated against the gay couple.

Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration,” said Mullins and Craig (the gay couple). “No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are. We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that today’s decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”

We also hear the same argument against the Christian bakers in Oregon who turned down a lesbian wedding cake order and have been paying for it ever since.

This argument is against the First Amendment right of the family baker to express their belief and this right is protected by the Constitution of the United States.

I also hear people saying--even some evangelical Pastors-- that we should accept and love those who have the same sex attraction and that Jesus loves every person. It is true, but there is no expression of love that will violate the marriage law as established by God since the beginning of the creation. The Christian Bakers have all right to refuse to sell cake for something that violates their religious belief.

In this volatile environment one must clearly make a choice. Either you are a Christian and follow what the Bible teaches you and pay for it or you decide to follow the flow by supporting same-sex marriage and you pay for it as well. You can't do both.

We have to do as Lot in Genesis 19 and the Old man in Judges 19.  Not only did they refused to participate in the abomination of homosexuality committed in their country, but they also boldly and openly spoke against it.

Also, we must teach our friends on the other side of the debate that marriage is sacred and holy because it has been ordained by God, not by man or any earthly institution.

I am amazed by the silence and or support of same-sex marriage given by many civil rights activists. I do not understand how associate civil rights is confused with a aberrant  behavior.  It is absurd to me!  Civil rights have nothing in common with the idea of gay marriage.  Marriage is not a social institution by essence, it is divinely ordained from above.

I will NOT bake such a cake! I will NOT support anything that goes against the will of God!
The speculation of men cannot trump the revelation of God!

Peace and blessings!

Fr. Thierry
"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Related Links:

Destroy Marriage

Behavior is not unalienable.

Muslims burn Gay Flag.

Chaplains Persecuted by Pentagon

Baker persecuted for beliefs

American Flag Distress Signal

Polygamists want same 'rights'

Pedophiles getting on the band wagon-

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