Friday, September 26, 2008

Craig Uffman on Rowan Williams

by Craig Uffman

Ruth Gledhill of the London Times quotes an article by Rowan Williams in which the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects theologically on the current credit crisis. Williams’ reflections are well worth pondering.

Unfortunately, Gledhill can’t resist a provocative blog headline about Karl Marx that distorts the Archbishop’s thinking: her article is entitled: “Karl Marx ‘right’ to condemn capitalism, says Rowan.” Williams’ essential point is in fact one that many Jewish and Christians prophets have made, and one that Marx, as a student of Hegel, speaking as a Jew in the radicalized voice of a secular prophet, happened to make during the time when the classical synthesis between Reason and Mystery finally broke down. It is no less true simply because Marx recognized its truth, too. Williams comment is actually quite astute theologically: “unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves; [Marx] was right about that, if about little else.”

Rowan’s remarks are below:

‘Like [19th century English novelist Anthony] Trollope’s hapless young clerics and feckless young landowners, individuals find that their own personal financial decisions and calculations have nothing to do with what is happening to their resources, in a process for which a debt is simply someone else¹s wholly disposable asset,’ he writes.

‘It is a sort of one-syllable nursery parable of what the last couple of weeks have illustrated in the world of global finance and, of course, a reminder that what we have been witnessing is not just the product of a couple of irresponsible decades.’

He in particular criticises the trading of debts of others without accountability.

‘This crisis exposes the element of basic unreality in the situation - the truth that almost unimaginable wealth has been generated by equally unimaginable levels of fiction, paper transactions with no concrete outcome beyond profit for traders,’ he says.

‘To grant that without a basis of some common prosperity and stability, no speculative market can long survive is not to argue for rigid Soviet-style centralised direction. Insecure or failed states may provide a brief and golden opportunity for profiteering, but cannot sustain reliable institutions.

‘Without a background of social stability everyone will eventually suffer, including even the most resourceful, bold and ingenious of speculators. The question is not how to choose between total control and total deregulation, but how to identify the points and practices where social risk becomes unacceptably high. The banning of short-selling is an example of just such a judgment. Governments should not lose their nerve as they look to identify a few more targets.’

He questions whether we can recover a sense of the connection between money and material reality and warned of a kind of fundamentalism operating in the markets.

‘Fundamentalism is a religious word, not inappropriate to the nature of the problem. Marx long ago observed the way in which unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves; he was right about that, if about little else. And ascribing independent reality to what you have in fact made yourself is a perfect definition of what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures call idolatry.

‘What the present anxieties and disasters should be teaching us is to keep ourselves from idols, in the biblical phrase. The mythologies and abstractions, the pseudo-objects of much modern financial culture, are in urgent need of their own Dawkins or Hitchens. We need to be reacquainted with our own capacity to choose - which means acquiring some skills in discerning true faith from false, and re-learning some of the inescapable face-to-face dimensions of human trust.’

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Episcopal Priest, Not Partisan Spokesman

This is an interesting piece from Sam Candler, Dean of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Atlanta. Parson's hat tip to the Episcopal Cafe.

By Sam Candler

In the United States, we are in the home stretch of a season of voting. Our two political parties scramble daily for our support. Many of us, and our friends and neighbors, have already declared our political choices; and we are hard at work on political campaigns.

During this sprint, I admit two things to my parishioners and friends. The first is that I actually love politics. I know that the partisan mud is deep. I know that every statement has to be filtered through ten screens. I know that attacks and defenses can be severe, and even unfair. But I do enjoy the contests. I also admire most of the candidates. I salute those who have offered themselves for public service; and I salute their campaign workers and office staffs.

However, the second thing I must admit is that there is no way that I –an Episcopal priest, rector, and dean-- can take a partisan stand during our government elections. This is not simply because of tax consequences. We all know, I hope, that Episcopal churches in the United States enjoy the benefits of tax exemption as long as we do not allow partisan political statements in our official church gatherings. Thus, people can still give financially to our churches and enjoy a deduction from their taxes. (What people may not realize is that this particular criterion of tax-exempt organizations dates back only to 1954.)

No, I have another reason that I do not take a partisan stand during our government elections. My reason has to do with pastoral care and with leadership allegiance. I realize that my own parish, a large and rather politically diverse one, contains all sorts of partisan believers and workers. Not only do I have strong Republicans and strong Democrats in my parish, but I also have many of those parties’ state workers and campaign officers. Some folks in my parish attended the Republican Convention and other folks in my parish attended the Democratic Convention.

Does this mean that I have paralyzed myself under the guise of wimpy pastoral care? Does this mean that I have opted out of my religious responsibility of ethical and social leadership? No, I can –and do-- make statements about political and moral and ethical matters.

Rather, I believe that my ordained leadership is not meant to be “merely” political. I am not called to force my ordained leadership into either of the partisan boxes that surround each of our two national candidates. My leadership allegiance is to an agency higher even than the office of the United States presidency. My leadership allegiance is to God and to the mysterious working out of God’s realm on earth. I believe that whatever leadership I have is strengthened if I publicly ally myself only with that higher agency, with our hoped-for kingdom of God.

Essentially, I am wary of the Episcopal Church becoming too associated with either of our country’s two major political parties. I know that we need political parties. I know they do good things. And, I enjoy my parishioners’ political work; and I even enjoy their spirited and sometimes goofy partisanship. But I cannot surrender my public leadership to the support of political parties.

Of course, I will be voting in the upcoming elections. Furthermore, it does not take too long a conversation with me to determine whom I might support. That is not a secret; I simply do not use whatever ordained leadership I have to ally myself with a political party.

Finally, I will always, always, accept an invitation to pray during the gathering of a political party. I have prayed at Democrat gatherings, and I have prayed at Republican gatherings. I have enjoyed both! And I do enjoy attending political gatherings! This year, I pray that these political processes will produce a leader whom God will use for the good.

The Very Rev. Sam Candler is dean of St. Philip's Cathedral in Atlanta. He helped start that city’s interfaith group, and leads regular community bible studies. He is also inspired by playing jazz piano, hunting, astronomy, and poetry. His sermons and reflections on “Good Faith and Common Good” can be found on the Cathedral web site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Funny Video from the Diocese of Georgia

This Father Matthew is a riot -- our own Colbert. And what a gorgeous church this is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Faith and Science

By John Polkinghorne

An irritating feature of modern life is the way in which useful words get hijacked and used for different, and often unacceptable, purposes. An example is “creationist”. As a Christian believer I am, of course, a creationist in the proper sense of the term, for I believe that the mind and the purpose of a divine Creator lie behind the fruitful history and remarkable order of the universe which science explores. But I am certainly not a creationist in that curious North American sense, which implies interpreting Genesis 1 in a flat-footed literal way and supposing that evolution is wrong.

The irony of this notion of creationism is that it not only involves many scientific errors, but is also the result of a bad theological mistake. When we read any kind of deep literature, if we are to give it the respect that it deserves we must make sure we understand the genre of what is written. Mistaking poetry for prose can lead to false conclusions. When Robert Burns tell us his love “is like a red, red rose”, we know that we are not meant to think that his girlfriend has green leaves and prickles. Reading Genesis 1 as if it were a divinely dictated scientific text, intended to save us the trouble of actually doing science, is to make a similar kind of error. We miss the point of the chapter if we do not see that it is actually a piece of deep theological writing whose purpose, through the eight-times reiterated phrase “And God said, ‘Let there be . . .”, is to assert that everything that exists does so because of the will of the Creator. Thus literal creationists actually abuse scripture by the mistaken interpretation that they impose upon it.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

This Post Is Not About Sarah Palin

By Eric Von Salzen

The internet seems to have become an "All Sarah, all the time" channel, so I just wanted to let readers know, in advance, that this post isn’t about – well, you know who.

This post is about what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20: "Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good . . . ."

You remember the story. Joseph was one of the sons of Jacob, and he was an obnoxious prig. For reasons that only a parent could understand, Jacob favored him over all his other sons. His brothers got so sick and tired of him that they sold him into slavery. Eventually Joseph ended up as the right-hand man of the Pharaoh of Egypt, and was put in charge of giving out food during a famine. The famine afflicted Canaan, too, and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt in search of food. They discovered that their survival lay in the hands of the man that they had wronged many years before. They fell down before Joseph, who spoke kindly to them and, rather than punish them for the evil they had done him, gave them all a home in Egypt.

"Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today." When we talk about this passage in Education for Ministry we often ask ourselves whether God micromanages the world in the way this passage implies. Do we really think that God ordained that Joseph’s brothers do the wicked thing they did? If He did ordain it, if it really was part of His Plan, how could it be wicked? Generations later, when Pharaoh refused to allow the Israelites to return to Canaan, was it really because God had "hardened Pharaoh’s heart"?

But that’s not what I thought about when I heard this passage read in church this morning. I thought about how we know that God exists.

In earlier eras, wise men from Aristotle to Aquinas thought they could prove through logic or science that God exists, but in the modern era we don’t generally buy those arguments anymore. In fact, nowadays "scientific" atheists argue that if we can’t prove that God exists we must concede his non-existence.

But the atheists who say such things are bad scientists; there are lots of things that we believe not because we can prove them through logic or an experiment, but because they help us make sense of the world. Physicists think that atoms are made up of quarks, but no one has ever seen a quark (and no one ever will); physicists believe in quarks because they make the equations come out right. Biologists believe in evolution by natural selection, but no one has ever watched a species evolve naturally; biologists believe in evolution because it makes sense of the evidence, such as the distribution of finches on Pacific islands, and fossils of whales with legs.

Think about the situation facing Joseph. Because of the perfidy of his brothers, he had been torn away from a happy home and a loving father; he had been enslaved and carried against his will into a strange and foreign land; he had suffered physical and emotional torture and the threat of death. He was now the second most powerful person in the great empire of his time. And his brothers were in his power. He could have paid them back in spades. No one in the world could stop him.

What stopped Joseph from taking revenge on his brothers was his belief in God. He expressed that belief in terms that made sense to him, and that made sense to the Jews who heard and told this story over many centuries before it was ever written down. "Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good . . . ." Perhaps modern people would express their belief in God differently, but it’s the result that matters.

Do you believe that Joseph lived a more satisfied and happier life as a result of his decision? I do. He passed his remaining days among his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, in familial companionship. If he had taken vengeance on his brothers he would have lived out his days in anger and bitterness and regret. It was God who for Joseph made the difference between those two ways of living his life. To me, that’s what God "intended for good": Joseph’s life and the lives of his family. In that story I see as much proof of God as I will ever see proof of a quark.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Balsa Gliders

New album to be released on iTunes in a couple of weeks - we are mastering it next Monday!

Fr. Tobias Haller

Click Here for the Proper 18a RCL Readings:

By Tobias Haller

Our readings today speak of how the church is to be the church — not only how Christians are to behave towards each other, but also what it means to be a body of Christians, what we call not just a church but the church.

It should be clear to anyone who reads the newspapers that our own Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion of which it is a part, has had more than its share of upset over the last few years. Many wonder whether the church will survive the tension and grow stronger, or split apart into factions and divisions. It is true that Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.” But that doesn’t mean every two or three people have to start their own church!

That reminds me of Garrison Keillor’s Church of the Sanctified Brethren: his immediate family, a cousin, and his uncle — the founder of this tiny denomination, which had split and split and split to end up being six people who worshiped in the parlor every Sunday morning, believing themselves to be the only true Church.

I’m reminded of this in part because we’re in the midst of confirmation classes, and the topic of what it means to be an Anglican is much on my mind. So I would like to reflect with you on that question, because our scriptures today are admirably applicable.

+ + +

You may have heard of the Anglican theologian Richard Hooker who wrote during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and contributed to the Elizabethan Settlement. This was the elegant compromise that allowed Anglicans — even then split into disagreeing and sometimes disagreeable parties — to keep peace in their household. Anglicans respect three sources of authority — Scripture, Tradition, and Reason — and somehow this trio has gotten attached to the name of Richard Hooker under the title “Hooker’s Three-Legged Stool” even though he never referred to it as such. Hooker did not actually regard Tradition as an equal source of authority, and he placed Reason ahead of Scripture because, as he said, without Reason we would not be able to reap the benefit of Scripture at all — without Reason you wouldn’t even be able to read it! We also use Reason to inform our reading of Scripture, which helps to keep us out of the kind of trouble the Roman Catholic Church had with Galileo, or modern of fundamentalists have with Charles Darwin. So if it is a three-legged stool it is a wobbly one.

+ + +

What I want to speak about today is another set of three characteristics of Anglicanism, reflected in our Scripture readings as they address the problems of authority and disagreement in the church. I call these three principles the Anglican Triad: Humility, Locality, and Variety.

The first one, Humility, is the what drew me to the Episcopal Church in the first place. I was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church, and in those days questions were not encouraged, and the rule was “do as you are told.” This didn’t sit well with me, and I drifted away from it when I was a teenager, only to discover the Episcopal Church when I went to college.

What attracted me most was the fact that Anglicanism is one of the few Christian traditions that says, right up front, “The church makes mistakes.” One would think, looking at the church history, that this would be obvious — but many people want a religion that will tell them what to believe, give them answers instead of questions. Whether it’s the fundamentalist’s, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it” or “The Pope is infallible” — some people want that kind of security, to know that they are Right.

Anglicans, however, accept that just as the people of Israel made mistakes — and boy did they make mistakes — so too the Christian Church is not immune from its own failures and errors. Anglicans accept that since individual people make mistakes — however exalted their position — there is no guarantee that when you get people together in a group, even a church group, that they will somehow miraculously be preserved from making mistakes.

Why this notion of humility is important is that only those who are open to realizing that they might make mistakes will be ready to correct them when they do. Few people are more dangerous to themselves and others than those who think they never make a mistake and are always right.

And when the church makes mistakes, as it surely has, and when some member of the church has the courage to stand up and say, “My friends, this is wrong” — whether it’s about how the church supported and benefitted from slavery, or the second-class status of women, or apartheid, or anything else — the right thing to do, as Ezekiel assured the people, is to “turn back from their evil ways, and live.” That takes humility.

+ + +

The second characteristic of Anglicanism is Locality. The Anglican Communion is not just one big centrally governed international church. Rather it is a fellowship of national and provincial churches, independently governed, but sharing a common heritage and tradition. This element of Anglicanism goes right back to the foundation of the Church of England, when it asserted its independence from the Church of Rome, rejecting the idea that the church throughout the world had to be centrally governed by a single leader. In this, the Anglican Communion is like the churches of Eastern Orthodoxy — each of them independently governed nation by nation but recognizing and in fellowship with each other.

This aspect of Anglicanism has come under a lot of pressure lately, as disagreements between the individual national churches have come to the foreground. What should be our strength is becoming an additional challenge. The strength lies in the fact that the Episcopal Church in the US doesn’t have the right to tell the Church in the Sudan what to do in the Sudan, nor does the Church in the Sudan have the right to tell the Episcopal Church what to do here in the US. The problem is, quite a few of the churches outside the Episcopal Church have in fact been trying to tell the Episcopal Church what it ought to do, indeed what it has to do if those other churches are going to continue to have any kind of relationship with it.

Some of the other churches in the Communion are standing with the Episcopal Church in this, and understand that giving orders to others is a dangerous path to follow — we become a communion of busy-bodies interfering in each other’s households. After all, in our Gospel today Jesus only gives the right to confront another member of the church if that member has sinned against you — you personally. He gives no general authority to Christians to judge the behavior of others with whom they disagree about anything — in fact, as you well know, Jesus teaches exactly the opposite: Do not judge; and Do not try to remove the splinter from your neighbor’s eye while you’ve got a two-by-four in your own.

This is also where his language concerning “two or three being gathered together” comes in — the church subsists in every faithful gathering of Christians, and it isn’t for one gathering here to tell another gathering there what it is that they must do. After all, we may be wrong, and they right! So Humility and Locality support each other. After all, things acceptable in the US may not be acceptable in the Sudan — and vice versa. By keeping a clear sense of our own limitations as well as gifts, we can be humble enough not to insist on others following our local customs and decisions.

+ + +

This leads to the third characteristic of Anglicanism, Variety. One of the things the Church of England recognized when it became independent from the Church of Rome was that not only could the form of church government differ from place to place, but also the form of prayer and worship. For instance, two changes the Church of England made at that time were to worship in English instead of Latin, and to allow the congregation to drink from the Cup. (And isn’t it interesting that some 400 years later the Church of Rome caught up?)

When the Episcopal Church became independent from the Church of England — back at the American Revolution — we Episcopalians also took advantage of the opportunity to change our liturgy — not just dropping the prayers for the royal family, but adopting a form for the Eucharist based on what was being done in Scotland instead of England. After all, it was Scottish bishops who ordained our first American Bishop!

This kind of variety is also reflected in the teaching of Jesus. He gives the church — the local church of two or three gathered together — the right to bind and loose. When they agree on earth, it is done in heaven. It is not necessary that worship be the same all around the world — for God is praised in many tongues by many peoples.

So it is that these three elements of Anglicanism can nourish the church and foster its growth if we will let them. We can affirm that even though not all agree with us, we need not in all things agree with them. In humility we can remain open to receive criticism — for none of us is perfect. As we worship in our own communities we can also respect that others will worship in ways unlike our own and yet share a heritage in the Anglican tradition. We are many in our ways of worship, but One in the Lord whom we worship.

So let us work to love and appreciate each other with mutual affection; to outdo each other in showing honor to each other. Let us not lag in zeal, but be ardent in spirit, and thus serve the Lord. Let us rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, and persevere in prayer, each in our own portion of this great fellowship of churches we call the Anglican Communion, and to the glory of God alone.+

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Building Bridges of Affirmation, II

An excerpt from the Porvoo Common Statement:

29. Anglicans of Britain and Ireland and Lutherans of the Nordic and Baltic lands have at no time condemned one another as churches and have never formally separated. But a deeper realization of communion is certainly desirable, and now seems possible, without denying that proper and fruitful diversity which has developed, in course of time, into a distinctive way of confessing and expressing our faith. Anglicans have tended to stress the importance of liturgy as expressing the faith of the Church. Lutherans, whilst not denying this, have tended to lay more emphasis on doctrinal confession. Both, however, see lex orandi and lex credendi as closely related. The Augsburg Confession and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion were produced in different circumstances to meet different needs, and they do not play an identical role in the life of the churches. They contain much common formulation and bear common witness to the faith of the Church through the ages. Building on this foundation, modern ecumenical contact and exchange have substantially helped to clarify certain residual questions, bringing out with greater precision the degree to which we retain a common understanding of the nature and purpose of the Church and a fundamental agreement in faith. We are now called to a deepening of fellowship, to new steps on the way to visible unity and a new coherence in our common witness in word and deed to one Lord, one faith and one baptism.

30. To this end, we set out the substantial agreement in faith that exists between us. Here we draw upon Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (the Lima text) and the official responses of our churches to that text. We also draw upon previous attempts to specify the range and nature of Anglican-Lutheran agreement. These include the Pullach Report of 1973, the Helsinki Report of 1983, the Cold Ash Report of 1983, Implications of the Gospel of 1988, The Meissen Common Statement of 1988 and the Niagara Report of 1988. These texts all testify to a substantial unity in faith between Anglicans and Lutherans. We have benefited from the insights from these texts as a contribution to our agreement in faith. Furthermore, we have made considerable use of the results of the respective Anglican - Roman Catholic and Roman Catholic - Lutheran dialogues.

31. The agreement in faith reached in the Anglican-Lutheran texts was affirmed in a resolution of the Lambeth Conference of 1988, where it is stated that the Conference

`recognises, on the basis of the high degree of consensus reached in international, regional and national dialogues between Anglicans and Lutherans and in the light of the communion centred around Word and Sacrament that has been experienced in each other's traditions, the presence of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Lutheran Communion as in our own'.

There is a parallel affirmation in a resolution of the Eighth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Curitiba in February 1990:

`This Assembly resolves that the LWF renew its commitment to the goal of full communion with the churches of the Anglican Communion, and that it urge LWF member churches to take appropriate steps towards its realization... that the LWF note with thanksgiving the steps towards church fellowship with national/regional Anglican counterparts which LWF member churches have been able to take already and that it encourage them to proceed.'

32.Here we declare in summary form the principal beliefs and practices that we have in common:

a. We accept the canonical scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments to be the sufficient, inspired and authoritative record and witness, prophetic and apostolic, to God's revelation in Jesus Christ. We read the Scriptures as part of public worship in the language of the people, believing that in the Scriptures as the Word of God and testifying to the gospel eternal life is offered to all humanity, and that they contain everything necessary to salvation.

b. We believe that God's will and commandment are essential to Christian proclamation, faith and life. God's commandment commits us to love God and our neighbour, and to live and serve to his praise and glory. At the same time God's commandment reveals our sins and our constant need for his mercy.

c.We believe and proclaim the gospel, that in Jesus Christ God loves and redeems the world. We `share a common understanding of God's justifying grace, i.e. that we are accounted righteous and are made righteous before God only by grace through faith because of the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and not on account of our works or merits.... Both our traditions affirm that justification leads and must lead to "good works"; authentic faith issues in love'. We receive the Holy Spirit who renews our hearts and equips us for and calls us to good works. As justification and sanctification are aspects of the same divine act, so also living faith and love are inseparable in the believer.

d. We accept the faith of the Church through the ages set forth in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan and Apostles' Creeds and confess the basic trinitarian and Christological dogmas to which these creeds testify. That is, we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is true God and true Man, and that God is one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This faith is explicitly confirmed both in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and in the Augsburg Confession.

e. We confess and celebrate the apostolic faith in liturgical worship. We acknowledge in the liturgy both a celebration of salvation through Christ and a significant factor in forming the consensus fidelium. We rejoice at the extent of our `common tradition of spirituality, liturgy and sacramental life' which has given us similar forms of worship and common texts, hymns, canticles and prayers. We are influenced by a common liturgical renewal and by the variety of expression shown in different cultural settings.

f. We believe that the Church is constituted and sustained by the Triune God through God's saving action in word and sacraments. We believe that the Church is a sign, instrument and foretaste of the Kingdom of God. But we also recognize that it stands in constant need of reform and renewal.

g. We believe that through baptism with water in the name of the Trinity God unites the one baptized with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, initiates into the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and confers the gracious gift of new life in the Spirit. Since we in our churches practise and value infant baptism we also take seriously our catechetical task for the nurture of baptized children to mature commitment to Christ. In all our traditions baptism is followed by a rite of confirmation. We recognise two practices in our churches, both of which have precedents in earlier centuries: in Anglican churches, confirmation administered by the bishop; in the Nordic and Baltic churches, confirmation usually administered by a local priest. In all our churches this includes invocation of the Triune God, renewal of the baptismal profession of faith and a prayer that through the renewal of the grace of baptism the candidate may be strengthened now and for ever.

h. We believe that the body and blood of Christ are truly present, distributed and received under the forms of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper (Eucharist). In this way we receive the body and blood of Christ, crucified and risen, and in him the forgiveness of sins and all other benefits of his passion. The eucharistic memorial is no mere calling to mind of a past event or of its significance, but the Church's effectual proclamation of God's mighty acts. Although we are unable to offer to God a worthy sacrifice, Christ unites us with himself in his self-offering to the Father, the one, full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice which he has offered for us all. In the eucharist God himself acts, giving life to the body of Christ and renewing each member. Celebrating the eucharist, the church is reconstituted and nourished, strengthened in faith and hope, in witness and service in daily life. Here we already have a foretaste of the eternal joy of God's Kingdom.

i. We believe that all members of the church are called to participate in its apostolic mission. All the baptized are therefore given various gifts and ministries by the Holy Spirit. They are called to offer their being as `a living sacrifice' and to intercede for the Church and the salvation of the world. This is the corporate priesthood of the whole people of God and the calling to ministry and service (I Peter 2: 5).

j.We believe that within the community of the Church the ordained ministry exists to serve the ministry of the whole people of God. We hold the ordained ministry of word and sacrament to be an office of divine institution and as such a gift of God to his Church. Ordained ministers are related, as are all Christians, both to the priesthood of Christ and to the priesthood of the Church. This basic oneness of the ordained ministry is expressed in the service of word and sacrament. In the life of the Church, this unity has taken a differentiated form. The threefold ministry of bishop, priest and deacon became the general pattern in the Church of the early centuries and is still retained by many churches, though often in partial form. `The threefold ministry of bishop, presbyter and deacon may serve today as an expression of the unity we seek and also as a means for achieving it'.

k. We believe that a ministry of pastoral oversight (episcope), exercised in personal, collegial and communal ways, is necessary as witness to and safeguard of the unity and apostolicity of the Church. Further, we retain and employ the episcopal office as a sign of our intention, under God, to ensure the continuity of the Church in apostolic life and witness. For these reasons, all our churches have a personally exercised episcopal office.

l. We share a common hope in the final consummation of the Kingdom of God, and believe that in this eschatological perspective we are called to work now for the furtherance of justice, to seek peace and to care for the created world. The obligations of the Kingdom are to govern our life in the Church and our concern for the world. `The Christian faith is that God has made peace through Jesus "by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1: 20), so establishing the one valid centre for the unity of the whole human family'.

33. This summary witnesses to a high degree of unity in faith and doctrine. Whilst this does not require each tradition to accept every doctrinal formulation characteristic of our distinctive traditions, it does require us to face and overcome the remaining obstacles to still closer communion.

Building Bridges of Affirmation, I

I believe in the Son of God in Jesus Christ, and His mission for His Church is to be agents of reconciliation. To this end, I will be putting up statements of agreed upon, shared, faith between Anglicans and other traditions. What we share as the part of the Church is our common membership in the Body of Christ - this is the most important thing.

Anglicans affirm the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments, the dominical sacraments, the Nicene and Apostles Creeds, and the historic episcopate as our 'faith essentials.'

To begin with, here is the statement from a couple decades back between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

Agreed Statement on Eucharistic Doctrine


  1. In the course of the Church's history several traditions have developed in expressing christian understanding of the eucharist. (For example, various names have become customary as descriptions of the eucharist: lord's supper, liturgy, holy mysteries, synaxis, mass, holy communion. The eucharist has become the most universally accepted term.) An important stage in progress towards organic unity is a substantial consensus on the purpose and meaning of the eucharist. Our intention has been to seek a deeper understanding of the reality of the eucharist which is consonant with biblical teaching and with the tradition of our common inheritance, and to express in this document the consensus we have reached.

  2. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ God has reconciled men to himself, and in Christ he offers unity to all mankind. By his word God calls us into a new relationship with himself as our Father and with one another as his children�a relationship inaugurated by baptism into Christ through the Holy Spirit, nurtured and deepened through the eucharist, and expressed in a confession of one faith and a common life of living service.


  3. When his people are gathered at the eucharist to commemorate his saving act for our redemption, Christ makes effective among us the eternal benefits of this victory and elicits and renews our response of faith, thanksgiving and self-surrender. Christ through the Holy Spirit in the eucharist builds up the life of the church, strengthens its fellowship and furthers its mission. The identity of the church as the body of Christ is both expressed and effectively proclaimed by its being centred in, and partaking of, his body and blood. In the whole action of the eucharist, and in and by his sacramental presence given through bread and wine, the crucified and risen Lord, according to his promise, offers himself to his people.

  4. In the eucharist we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Receiving a foretaste of the kingdom to come, we look back with thanksgiving to what Christ has done for us, we greet him present among us, we look forward to his final appearing in the fullness of his kingdom when "The Son also himself [shall] be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor 15:28). When we gather around the same table in this communal meal at the invitation of the same Lord and when we "partake of the one loaf", we are one in commitment not only to Christ and to one another, but also to the mission of the church in the world.


  5. Christ's redeeming death and resurrection took place once and for all in history. Christ's death on the cross, the culmination of his whole life of obedience, was the one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. There can be no repetition of or addition to what was then accomplished once for all by Christ.

    Any attempt to express a nexus between the sacrifice of Christ and the eucharist must not obscure this fundamental fact of the christian faith1. Yet God has given the eucharist to his church as a means through which the atoning work of Christ on the cross is proclaimed and made effective in the life of the church. The notion of memorial as understood in the passover celebration at the time of Christ�i.e. the making effective in the present of an event in the past�has opened the way to a clearer understanding of the relationship between Christ's sacrifice and the eucharist. The eucharistic memorial is no mere calling to mind of a past event or of its significance, but the church's effectual proclamation of God's mighty acts. Christ instituted the eucharist as a memorial (anamnesis) of the totality of God's reconciling action in him. In the eucharistic prayer the church continues to make a perpetual memorial of Christ's death, and his members, united with God and one another, give thanks for all his mercies, entreat the benefits of his passion on behalf of the whole church, participate in these benefits and enter into the movement of his self-offering.


  6. Communion with Christ in the eucharist presupposes his true presence, effectually signified by the bread and wine which, in this mystery, become his body and blood2. The real presence of his body and blood can, however, only be understood within the context of the redemptive activity whereby he gives himself, and in himself reconciliation, peace and life, to his own. On the one hand, the eucharistic gift springs out of the paschal mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, in which God's saving purpose has already been definitively realised. On the other hand, its purpose is to transmit the life of the crucified and risen Christ to his body, the church, so that its members may be more fully united with Christ and with one another.

  7. Christ is present and active, in various ways, in the entire eucharistic celebration. It is the same Lord who through the proclaimed word invites his people to his table, who through his minister presides at that table, and who gives himself sacramentally in the body and blood of his paschal sacrifice. It is the Lord present at the right hand of the Father, and therefore transcending the sacramental order, who thus offers to his church, in the eucharistic signs, the special gift of himself.

  8. The sacramental body and blood of the Savior are present as an offering to the believer awaiting his welcome. When this offering is met by faith, a lifegiving encounter results. Through faith Christ's presence�which does not depend on the individual's faith in order to be the Lord's real gift of himself to his church�becomes no longer just a presence for the believer, but also a presence with him.

    Thus, in considering the mystery of the eucharistic presence, we must recognize both the sacramental sign of Christ's presence and the personal relationship between Christ and the faithful which arises from that presence.

  9. The Lord's words at the last supper, "Take and eat; this is my body", do not allow us to dissociate the gift of the presence and the act of sacramental eating. The elements are not mere signs; Christ's body and blood become really present and are really given. But they are really present and given in order that, receiving them, believers may be united in communion with Christ the Lord.

  10. According to the traditional order of the liturgy the consecratory prayer (anaphora) leads to the communion of the faithful. Through this prayer of thanksgiving, a word of faith addressed to the Father, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit, so that in communion we eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood.

  11. The Lord who thus comes to his people in the power of the Holy Spirit is the Lord of glory. In the eucharistic celebration we anticipate the joys of the age to come. By the transforming action of the Spirit of God, earthly bread and wine become the heavenly manna and the new wine, the eschatological banquet for the new man: elements of the first creation become pledges and first fruits of the new heaven and the new earth.

  12. We believe that we have reached substantial agreement on the doctrine of the eucharist. Although we are all conditioned by the traditional ways in which we have expressed and practiced our eucharistic faith, we are convinced that if there are any remaining points of disagreement they can be resolved on the principles here established. We acknowledge a variety of theological approaches within both our communions. But we have seen it as our task to find a way of advancing together beyond the doctrinal disagreements of the past. It is our hope that in view of the agreement which we have reached on eucharistic faith, this doctrine will no longer constitute an obstacle to the unity we seek.