Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Remembering Bresee

This portrait of Bresee hangs at the Nazarene
Global Ministries Center.  A copy of it hangs
 at the World Methodist Museum.
As a ("sanctified proud," as some have termed it!) Nazarene, I am happy to celebrate today's commemoration of The Rev'd. Dr. Phineas F. Bresee.  I am especially pleased that, thanks to For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations (Second Edition), those in the larger Wesleyan/Methodist tradition are also observing this commemoration.  (It was my privilege to have had the opportunity of writing the hagiography for Bresee in For All the Saints.) 

Below is the hagiography, followed by the prayer for the occasion (the prayer was written by Daniel Taylor Benedict, Jr):

Phineas Franklin Bresee was born to Phineas and Susan Brown Bresee in Franklin, NY, on December 31, 1838.  At 16, Bresee experienced his own "warmed heart" through a personal faith in Christ.  Soon thereafter, he sensed a call to ministry and was granted a Methodist exhorter's license.  He was ordained a deacon in 1859 and an elder two years later.(301)

In 1867, in Chariton, Iowa, Bresee "entered into the blessing of entire sanctification."(302)  Bresee had been struggling with doubt.  The altar call after his sermon that night produced only one seeker; Bresee, himself.  ". . . [A]s I cried to [the Lord] that night, he seemed to open heaven on me, and gave me . . . the baptism with the Holy Ghost . . . it not only took away my tendencies to worldliness, anger and pride, but it also removed the doubt."(303)  That experience of Christian Perfection would have a huge impact on Breese's ministry.

Bresee served rural charges, and then large, urban churches in Iowa(304) and, after 1883, Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA.  He was appointed presiding elder in West Des Moines (1864)(305) and in Los Angeles.(306)  Further, Bresee served as a delegate to multiple General Conferences.(307)

Education was important to Bresee, as was seen by his serving on the board of Simpson College(308) and the University of Southern California.(309)  Later, Bresee became the president of Pacific Bible College (now Point Loma Nazarene University).(310)

By the mid-1890's, Bresee's commitment to the message of holiness led to his role as vice president of the National Holiness Association (NHA).  The experience of holiness also brought a passion for the poor.  The Church's first miracle after baptism with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was upon a beggar, and so, Bresee reasoned, the priority of a Holy Ghost-baptized church ought to be the poor.(311)  This passion led him to withdraw from the MEC's appointive system in 1894 to serve with the Peniel Mission.  However, while away, preaching for the NHA, Bresee was ousted from the Mission.  he was now left without the Mission or a MEC appointment.(312)

Thus, at the request of a number of southern California's Holiness people, the Church of the Nazarene was organized on October 20, 1895 as a "Christian work, especially evangelistic and city mission work, and the spreading of the doctrine and experience of Christian holiness."(313)  Bresee was the general superintendent of a growing holiness denomination.  A series of mergers with other regional holiness groups established the church as a national denomination in 1908 at Pilot Point, TX.(314)

Bresee served as the denomination's senior general superintendent until his death on November 13, 1915.  He left behind his wife, Maria, six children, and what would become the largest denomination in the Wesleyan-Holiness wing of Methodism.

Common Prayer for Pastors, Bishops and Abbatial Leaders

Gracious God, our Shepherd, we thank you for raising up Phineas Bresee as bishop and pastor in your church.  Remembering his faithfulness and care, fill all shepherds of your church with truth in doctrine, fidelity in Word and Sacrament, and boldness and vision in leading the people, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and forever.  Amen.
301 Ingersol, Stan. Nazarene Roots: Pastors, Prophets, Revivalists & Reformers. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City. 2009. p. 87-88.

302 Bangs, Carl. Phineas F. Bresee: His Life in Methodism, the Holiness Movement, and the Church of the Nazarene. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City. 1995. p. 71-73, 77.

303 Girvin, E.A. Phineas F. Bresee: A Prince in Israel. Kansas City, MO. Nazarene Publishing House. 1916. p. 50-52.

304 Ingersol. p. 88.

305 Kostlevy, William C., Ed. Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement. Lanham, Maryland, and London. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 28-29.

306 Bangs. p. 286.

307 Ingersol. p. 88-89.

308 Ibid. p. 88.

309 Kostlevy. p. 29.

310 Ingersol. p. 91

311 Ibid. p. 88-89.

312 Kostlevy. p. 29.

313 Bangs. p. 195-196.

314 Kostlevy. p. 29.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rick Lee James and Greg Lafollette: Songs of Common Prayer

My friend, Rick Lee James, introduced me to a brand new project (set to be released, today) by Greg Lafollette.  It is titled Songs of Common Prayer.  As the title implies, this is a CD that is based upon the Book of Common Prayer.

As a "Wesleyan-Anglican," I have been shaped by the Book of Common Prayer over several years, now.  It has been my practice to pray the offices of Morning and/or Evening Prayer each day from one of the versions of the Prayer Book (most often, by far, John Wesley's version, The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America).  Further, I have looked for options for liturgically based music that might be used to incorporate Prayer Book spirituality in worship for those who are unfamiliar with the Book of Common Prayer.  More than that, I've been looking forward to getting my hands on this CD, personally.

Rick Lee James (whose CD, Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations, I also have!) has a regular podcast called Voices In My Head.  (And I just saw that he has a podcast on The Gospel According to Superman, to which I will have to listen, soon!)

On today's podcast he features Greg Lafollette and focuses on the Songs of Common Prayer project.  -  Though I have not yet heard the entire CD, I commend it to you and invite you to listen to Rick's podcast.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Some Thoughts by John Wesley on the Sufficiency of Scripture

I have been reading through John Wesley's various writings about the Church of Rome.  In his Popery Calmly Considered, Wesley makes the following comments concerning the "Sufficiency of Scripture":

St. Paul says, "3.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

The Scripture, therefore, being delivered by men divinely inspired, is a rule sufficient to itself: So it neither needs, nor is capable of, any farther addition.

. . . 6. (3.) In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.  And Scripture is the best expounder of Scripture.  The best way, therefore, to understand it, is carefully to compare Scripture with Scripture, and thereby learn the true meaning of it.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Ancient-Future Small Group

We have completed the first half of the Small Group, referred to below.  The second half of the study will begin this Sunday, October 21.  Again, we will be meeting at 4:15 in our home. 

I'm excited to announce that this study will be using Robert Webber's video curriculum Ancient-Future Worship: A Model for the 21st Century.

Here is a link to my video announcement on the Wesley-Anglican YouTube channel.  Or, you can simply watch it, below!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Commemoration of James Arminius

Today, October 19, is the "feast day" (the commemoration) of James Arminius . . . at least for those in the Methodist tradition who are following For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations.*Actually, interestingly enough, Arminius was not a part of the original edition of this book.  Calvin, on the other hand, was in that book.  To be fair, Calvin is a part of the established calendar of Feasts for The Episcopal Church, upon which Methodists would naturally draw.  Nevertheless, I found this omission odd given that we Wesleyans are Arminian! 
I argued that point back when the second edition was being put together.  Consequently, I was asked to write the hagiography for Arminius.  (At the time, I was still a member of the Order of St. Luke.)  What follows is the hagiography that appears in For All the Saints.  -  I invite you to join with me in commemoration of James Arminius!**

Jacob (or James) Arminius, Dutch pastor and theologian, was born the son of Harmon and Elborch Jacobsz in Oudewater, Holland in 1559. He received his early education at Utrecht. In 1575, Arminius' mother and siblings were killed during the Spanish massacre of Oudewater.  Through the generosity of friends, Arminnius was able to study at the University of Marburg and, from 1576 to 1581, at the University of Leyden.  Through the support of the Merchants' Guild of Amsterdam, Arminius went on to Geneva where he studied under Theodore Beza from 1582 to 1586, including a year at Basel.  Returning to the Netherlands in 1587, he began a fifteen-year pastorate in Amsterdam.  There he was ordained in 1588.  In 1603 he received his doctor's degree from Leyden and became the university's professor of theology.
When the United Netherlands (Dutch Republic) became independent, Calvinism became the official state religion.  However, Arminius could not accept the popular predestination position.  Instead, he attempted to modify Calvinism so that God could not be viewed as the author of sin and so that human choice might be safeguarded.  Arminius, facing much opposition, was reluctant to express anti-Calvinistic views, but, as time went on, he was accused for what he refused to say and write.

Arminius urged the government officials to call a national synod so that he might openly present his positions.  However, in 1609 he became ill and died, nine years before the synod was called.  The year following his death, Arminius' followers presented a Remonstrance over against the five points of Calvinism.  They "held that Christ died for all men [sic], that salvation is by faith alone, that those who believe are saved, that those who reject God's grace are lost, and that God does not elect particular individuals for either outcome."
Arminius taught that Christ is the object of God's decree.  The predestination of individuals is conditional, depending upon their acceptance or rejection of Christ.  In other words, God, according to divine foreknowledge, has predetermined to save all who place their faith in Christ and continue in that faith.
Although condemned by those of a Calvinist persuasion at the Synod of Dort in 1618, Arminian teaching has, nevertheless, gained permanent standing in John Wesley and the Wesley/Methodist tradition.
The suggested collect for the day is as follows:

God our Teacher, from whom comes all true knowledge: So bind your words to our lives and write them on the tablets of our hearts, that we may not be swayed by false winds; and grant us faithful guides like your servant James Arminius, that our path to you be made straight  and sure through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.
*This is the second edition, edited by Heather Josselyn-Cranson. Order of Saint Luke P. 2013.
**Cf., the article as found in the book for all citations.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Today we celebrate Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (1556).  One of my seminary professors once commented, as we look back to John Wesley as our spiritual father, we ought to look to Thomas Cranmer as a spiritual grandfather.

Cranmer was the major force in the English Reformation, and the person to whom thanks is due (in Christ!) for the Book of Common Prayer (in its variety of forms). Cranmer was primarily responsible for the very first Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and its first revision in 1552. In his development of the BCP, Cranmer followed closely the medieval forms of worship, especially the Old Sarum rites.

The 1662 BCP, which is still in use in the Church of England, as well as other Anglican provinces, and which is considered the standard by which all other Prayer Books are gaged, was a revision of Cranmer's previous work.

Especially important for Wesleyan-Anglicans, John Wesley, in the preface to his own edition of the (1662) BCP (viz., The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America), says, "I believe there is no liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England. And though the main of it was compiled considerably more than two hundred years ago, yet is the language of it, not only pure, but strong and elegant in the highest degree."

Thomas Cranmer was born in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire on July 2, 1489. He earned his B.A., M.A. & a Fellowship from Jesus College, Cambridge, and became a Doctor of Divinity, a lecturer in the same school. Cranmer was highly influenced by the Lutheran reformers. King Henry the Eighth, with confirmation from the Pope, appointed Cranmer to the See of Canterbury, and he was consecrated Archbishop on March 30, 1533.

When Queen Mary the First took the throne, as a staunch Roman Catholic, she had Cranmer arrested due to the protestant reforms he had implemented in the English Church. On March 21, 1556, Thomas Cranmer, along with other church leaders, was burned at the stake.

Thomas Cranmer has and continues to influence countless Christians in their spiritual formation and lives through the Book of Common Prayer, and all who use a version of the Book of Common Prayer or a liturgy that has been influence by one of the Prayer Books owe an immeasurable debt to Thomas Cranmer.

Even non-liturgical Nazarenes owe an immense debt to Cranmer. Our own ritual for the Lord's Supper in our Manual (Book of Discipline), until our last General Assembly, was an abbreviated form of the Methodist Episcopal ritual, which came from Wesley's Sunday Service, which was a version of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. Even more important, Wesley's understanding of holiness was, in many ways, shaped and supported by the liturgy of the Anglican Church, and the Collect of Purity at the beginning of the Communion service (and found as #58 in our Sing to the Lord hymnal, has been said to encapsulate our understanding of holiness:

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For more information on Thomas Cranmer, I commend to you the Episcopal Church's Lesser Feasts and Fasts - 1997, For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations Second Edition (OSL), and the "Introduction" to James' printing of The First English Prayer Book.  For an much more detailed study of Cranmer, see God Truly Worshipped: A Thomas Cranmer Reader by Jonathan Dean, and Diarmaid MacColloch's Thomas Cranmer: A Life.

Let us give thanks to God for Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury!

Friday, August 17, 2018

New Tippet Seals

I recently received my tippet patches and had them sewn onto my tippet.  -  Unfortunately, the seal for the Wesleyan-Anglican Society (especially) is not straight.  They are having to redo it for me.  -  Still, I thought that I would post an early picture, here.

What do you think?

I will be sending information to members of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society, via an upcoming e-newsletter, about how they can get a WAS seal for themselves.

(By the by, it doesn't have to go on a tippet.  -  I've seen seals from some other religious orders placed on the sleeve of their alb.  And, of course, it could go on a motorcycle vest!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New Small Group

It has been a long time since my last post, I know!  -  I am posting, now, to let you know about a new small group study that I will be starting in mid-August.  It will be divided into two sections, each lasting approximately five weeks, with a break between each section corresponding with the New Albany/Floyd County Schools’ Fall Break. 

The first half will focus on discovering John Wesley’s criteria for identifying Authentic Christian Worship and applying that to our day (a topic I have taught and written about on numerous occasions).
The second half will use Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Worship video curriculum and will give us an idea of what authentic Christian worship looks like, as we look back to the Ancient Church in order to move into the future.
 Here is a video with more information.


Now, obviously, you do not have flyers to fill out, etc.  This video will actually be shown at a couple of churches in our area.  However, if you are in this area and would like to join the study, just comment, below.  In any case, your prayers for the study would sure be appreciated!

(Here is a link to the video on my Wesleyan/Anglican YouTube channel.)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Remembering Bishop Thomas Coke

Today, May third, according to For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations (Second Edition),
we commemorate Bishop Thomas Coke.  Coke, an Anglican priest and assistant to John Wesley, was ordained by Wesley to be Superintendent of the American Methodists.  He convened the famous Christmas Conference in 1784 in Boston, which brought into being the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Upon Wesley's instruction, and with the consent of the preachers present, he ordained Francis Asbury deacon, elder, and superintendent.  They became the first bishops for the American Methodists.

In Bufford Coe's commemoration, he quotes one of Coke's prayers for a deep spirit of prayer in the Methodist preachers.  May this prayer be for all of us who stand in the lineage of those first Methodist preachers.

Glory be given to thee, thou has already bestowed much of it upon them: O! preserve it, increase it, inflame it, till their very life be one constant sacrifice to thee: till, by being daily stamped with brighter and brighter characters of thyself, they continually bring down, like thy servant Moses, a bright shining from the Mount.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Sign of the Cross

Facebook just reminded me of a post I made two years ago.  It is a quote from Scott Hahn's "The Lamb's Supper."  Two weeks ago my sermon focused on the cross, and I made reference to the sign of the cross.  I thought that it would be good to post the Hahn quote here:

Among the early Christians, the sign of the Cross was probably the most universal expression of faith. It appears often in the documents of the period. In most places, the custom was simply to trace the cross upon the forehead. Some writers (such as St. Jerome and St. Augustine) describe Christians tracing the cross on the forehead, then the lips, and then the heart, as . . . just before the reading of the Gospel. Great saints also testify to the tremendous power of the sign.... St. Cyprian of Carthage, in the third century, wrote that "in the. . . Sign of the Cross is all virtue and power. . . . In this Sign of the Cross is salvation for all who are marked on their foreheads" (a reference . . . to Revelation 7:3 and 14:1). . . . St. Athanasius declared that "by the Sign of the Cross all magic is stopped, and all witchcraft brought to nothing." Satan is powerless before the cross of Jesus Christ.
(Scott Hahn, "The Lamb's Supper")

Friday, March 2, 2018

Celebrating the Feast Day for John Wesley

In celebration of the Feast Day for John Wesley, I have published my first video on YouTube!  -  I have seen a few YouTube channels by various clergy, and I have thought that it would be a good idea to put together something from a Wesleyan-Anglican perspective.  -  I'm very new at this, and don't really know what I'm doing technologically!  -  Still being this Feast Day, I wanted to get something recorded.

I hope that you enjoy the video and that you join with me in remembering John Wesley on this day! 

FYI: I made reference in my video to Jordan Cooper and his "Just & Sinner" channel.  He is Lutheran (i.e., not Wesleyan), but I wanted to give a shout out to him as I attempt to start up a Wesley/Anglican channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Facebook Discussion Group

For those who have decided to take up the new spiritual discipline of reading one of Wesley's Standard Sermons each week for the 52 weeks of 2018, I have (after some persuasion) set up a closed Facebook group designed as a place to discuss each of the sermons.

Readers of this blog are invited to join the discussion, here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Two Wesley Quotes

In preparation for my taking the 2018 challenge (posted, below), I was reading the "Introduction" to Kenneth Cain Kinghorn's John Wesley on Christian Beliefs: The Standard Sermons in Modern English, Vol. 1, 1-20.  Among the quotable material in the "Introduction" are the following:

"To the best of my knowledge . . . the doctrines we preach are the doctrines of the Church of England; indeed, the fundamental doctrines of the Church, clearly laid down, both in her Prayers, Articles, and Homilies." -  John Wesley.

This quote expresses at least a part of what it means when I talk about being "Wesleyan/Anglican."  This expresses the continuity between Methodism (broadly understood) and Anglicanism.  It expresses the idea that my friend, the Rev'd. Tom Miles, often talks about, viz., that Nazarenes fit in the Anglican tradition.

The second quote follows directly after the one, above:

     Wesley did not see himself as an innovator, but as a transmitter. His position paralleled that of
     Vincent of Lerins (c. 450), who stated only that orthodoxy consists of "what has been believed  
     everywhere, always, and by all." Wesley said to his followers, "I, and all who follow my
     judgment, do vehemently refuse to be distinguished from other men, by any but the common
     principles of Christianity - the plain, old Christianity that I teach, renouncing and detesting all
     other marks of distinction."

This is my own understanding of the role of a theologian and preacher.  It fits nicely with both Thomas Oden and N.T. Wright's position.  Some seek to come up with something "new."  But those of this view seek to proclaim the same old message in new ways.  -  There is a huge difference.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Spiritual Discipline for 2018: 52 Weeks with Wesley

Are you one to make New Year's resolutions?  I have made some in the past.  Some, I've kept.  Others, I've not.  And, there are years that I simply didn't make any such resolutions.

Fr. William Shontz
However, a couple of weeks ago, my Facebook friend and colleague, the Rev'd. William Shontz, priest in the Anglican Church in North America, posted a GREAT idea!  Fr. Shontz is an Anglican who, as his idea will make clear, has been greatly influenced by the Wesley's.

The idea involves a spiritual discipline that is not burdensome.  It is not very time consuming.  In fact, it would be quite easy to accomplish.  And yet, I think it could be profoundly helpful to all those within the Wesleyan tradition.  So, what is the spiritual discipline?

Well, the year is made up of fifty-two weeks.  This number corresponds quite well with (at least the later version of) the number of "Standard Sermons" of John Wesley.  (When the "standard four volumes of sermons" were first published in England, there were forty-four sermons.  However, when published later, there were fifty-three, with the fifty-third being dropped, since it was a more biographical piece, on the death of the Rev'd. George Whitefield.  Thus, fifty-two were counted as "standard.")  -  These fifty-two "Standard Sermons" have been very important for the entire Wesleyan/Methodist family.

As you can undoubtedly guess by now, the proposed spiritual discipline for 2018 is to read through one of the standard 52 sermons each week of the new year. 

Such a discipline, I think, will be very helpful in reminding and grounding Wesleyan pastors of all stripes in our Wesleyan theological tradition.  -  Frankly, I thought it was a great idea!

If, by chance, you do not have a copy of Wesley's "Standard Sermons" (I'll refrain from saying, "Shame on you!"), you can either purchase such (recommended!), or you can simply find (at least 50 of) them (along with a nice introduction) online, here. The two that are missing are "The Good Steward" and "The Reformation of Manners."  If you choose to purchase the sermons, you can even purchase a "modern English" version of the sermons (which contains all 53).  For my part, I think I will read through them in this modern English format this time around.

And so, I want to challenge and encourage all members and friends of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society, all of my Nazarene colleagues, my United Methodist colleagues, and all other Wesleyan/Methodist and Anglican visitors to this blog: join me in (re)reading John Wesley's standard sermons for 2018!

Happy New Year from the World Methodist Council

Some people think that the slide from Sunday, December 31st, into Monday, January 1st, is just a matter of one day over and another begun – and there is some truth in that. For many, however, it is a time to reflect, to remember and to pray.

How was 2017 for you and for those who are part of your life? Were there moments of sadness as well as of joy? Times of challenge as well as of success? Flashes of anger as well as of love? Times when you felt like giving up as well as times when you felt that the whole world was on your side? If so, then you’re very like the rest of us! And it is highly probably that 2018 will be much the same, at least in principle.

Right at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, we are told that the baby Mary is carrying is to be called ‘Immanuel’, ‘God with us.’ And the Gospel concludes with the same thought: ‘Surely, I am with you always’. We are assured that, whatever happens, God is with us.
Being thus assured, it is our responsibility to live courageous and prophetic lives, upholding the Law of Love, speaking for the voiceless, defending the vulnerable, caring for God’s creation. I believe that those are the New Year’s resolutions we need to make, both as individuals and as ‘the people called Methodist.’

As this is being written, we are approaching what would be the 310th birthday of Charles Wesley (December 18th). On one occasion, he wrote a hymn commemorating the day; it has twelve verses and is probably not sung very often. Nevertheless, we are challenged by his thinking as, in personal terms, he moves from one year to another at the same time as we move from one year to another in calendar terms. The final verse is an appropriate prayer of dedication for us all as we commit ourselves to living to God’s praise and glory. I leave it with you and wish you all, wherever you are, every blessing and strength for 2018 and for all that it may bring.

My remnant of days
I spend in his praise,
Who died the whole world to redeem:
Be they many or few,
My days are his due,
They all are devoted to him!
Gillian Kingston
WMC Vice-President

(The above was first posted on the World Methodist Council page, here.)