Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A study of religious deconversion

"In a study of religious deconversion, we analyzed 50 on-line testimonies posted by former Christians, and in these testimonies we found four general explanations for deconversion. The first explanation, which I wrote about last week, regarded intellectual and theological concerns about the Christian faith. The second, which I elaborate here, regards a failed relationship with God. Almost half (22 of 50) of the writers expressed sentiments that in some way God had failed them by His not doing what they thought He should.

It's worth a look. Here's the rest.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father as priest

Priesthood is essentially fatherhood. That’s why we call our pastors our spiritual fathers--they father a community. It is a special relationship, modeled on the fatherhood of God. St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Though you have countless teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor 4:15).

Adam was the first priest because he was the father of his family. He spoke to God on their behalf and spoke to them on God’s behalf. He was the one who offered their sacrifice and taught them the faith. And this same pattern followed for generations. Eventually, God ordained men to serve in this capacity for a community in the Old and New Testament priesthoods.

What most people don’t understand is that the father’s role as priest of his own family, for whom he is responsible before God, remains. He is the one who is to lead them in prayer and make their offerings. He is the one who is to teach them the Faith of the Church. And he is the one who has the authority to bless his children.

Just like the priest in church, a father should put his right hand on his child’s head and say “I bless you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” And a father should offer longer benedictions (Latin--“good word”). Say things like, “May you be wise and just and caring and merciful. May you be prosperous and generous and faithful. May you find a loving husband/wife and many children." And so on.

A helpful reminder on this Father's Day.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The 'Anglican Summa' on the Trinity

The ten volume series Dogmatic Theology, by Dr. Francis Hall has been called the Anglican version of Aquinas' Summa Theologica, and rightly so. While it does not follow the same format, it is exhaustive in scope and is scholarly in content, yet fully accessible to the layman.

It was written by a priest and professor of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. The project was conceived by Francis Hall in the late 1800s, and the ten volumes were published between 1907 and 1922. The content is thoroughly orthodox and Anglican. It was hailed as a monumental achievement in the life of the American church.

In the fourth volume on the Trinity, Father Hall notes the profound importance of the subject matter by explaining that "the doctrine of the Trinity is the interpretive principle of all Christian doctrine, the ultimate basis for of Christian ideals and hopes, and the most vital and inspiring of all the truths which human minds can contemplate" (vol. IV, pg 2).

He goes on to say, "The doctrine of the Trinity must occupy the central place in any sound or adequate conception of spiritual realities. It constitutes the postulate of the doctrines of the Incarnation, of the Atonement, of the Church, of justification and salvation, and of the coming kingdom of God. If it were shown to be false, these doctrines would have to be modified beyond recognition, and Christianity would become something quite other than it actually is" (vol. IV, pg 2-3).