Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Christian Calendar: A Video

Here is a very nice video talking about the Christian Year, and the way that Christians mark time.  It comes from Christ Church Anglican.  It was developed by one who was a member of the Overland Park Church of the Nazarene.

The Christian Calendar from Christ Church Anglican on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Feast of Christ the King

This Sunday we will be celebrating Christ the King Sunday (or "The Reign of Christ the King")! - It is the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year. It is also the Sunday just prior to our entering into the holy season of Advent.
The observance of Christ the King Sunday is really a relatively new celebration. It was originally instituted by Pius XI, Bishop of Rome, for celebration on the last Sunday of October. However, after Vatican II, it was moved to its current location on the Christian calendar. 
Incidentally, no less than +N.T. Wright, has argued that Ascension Sunday is the proper celebration of Christ the King, rather than the creation of this relatively new celebration.  -  Nevertheless, I think that this setting, in addition to Ascension Sunday, has much to offer the Church.  An example of which can be seen in the lectionary readings; especially the Gospel reading.  -  Now, most of the readers of this blog will be familiar with the lectionary, but, if you are in a setting that is not using the lectionary, I would encourage you to take a look at Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79 (serving as the Psalm response); Colossians 1:11-20; and Luke 23:33-43.  -  We will be focusing on the Gospel reading, but we will get there by first taking a look at the passage from Paul's letter to the Colossians.   

In honor of Christ the King Sunday, find, below, a copy of Charles Wesley's great hymn, “Rejoice, the Lord Is King.”  -  The hymn will be printed as it appears in the Sing to the Lord (Nazarene) hymnal and most other hymnals.  (It seems that The United Methodist Hymnal includes some rather strange editorial changes in verses 1 and 4; changes that seem not to make sense.  The predecessor hymnal, The Methodist Hymnal, retains the hymn as appears elsewhere.)

It is also interesting (and puzzling) that this hymn does not seem to appear in volume 7 of The Works of John Wesley: A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists.  If it had, perhaps light may have been shed as to why the UMC hymnal changed the text.

Nevertheless, here follows the hymn!

Rejoice, the Lord Is King
1. Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, And triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
2. Jesus, the Savior, reigns, The God of truth and love.
When he had purged our stains, He took His seat above.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
3. His kingdom cannot fail; He rules o'er earth and heav'n.
The keys of death and hell Are to our Jesus giv'n.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
4. Rejoice in glorious hope! Our Lord, the Judge, shall come
And take His servants up To their eternal home.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
This Sunday (and every day!) may we all rejoice and worship Christ our King, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to His service, and by walking before Him in holiness and righteousness all our days (cf., "A General Thanksgiving," BCP). - May all glory be to God the Father, Christ our King, and the Holy Spirit! Amen!
This post was relied on a combination of previous posts on this same topic.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Episcopal Call for Philippines Assistance Through the Church of the Nazarene

Below is a video featuring the Rev'd. Dr. J. K. Warrick, General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene, asking for help for the Philippines following the devastating storm.  For more information about the devastation, what the Church of the Nazarene is doing, and how you can offer assistance, go to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.  -  Please give and continue to pray for those in the Philippines.

Council of Bishops Respond to Rogue Bishop's Actions

Today, the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church have issued a statement concerning the actions of retired Bishop Melvin Talbert who, on October 26, in Cedar Point, Alabama, conducted a ceremony of celebration of "marriage" between two men.  Prior to taking this action, Bishop Talbert was urged by the jurisdictional bishop of the North Alabama Conference, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, along with the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops, not to take this action.

Bishop Talbert chose not to comply, and, instead, chose to break covenant with the United Methodist Church by ignoring the clear stance of the Book of Discipline, which he was sworn to uphold.

Having prayerfully considered this issue, the Council of Bishops issued a statement which included a request that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council of Bishops, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett file a complaint.  Such complaint, one would expect, would bring Bishop Talbert to a church trial.

Frankly, though I think the Council of Bishops have taken the correct action, consistent with the Book of Discipline, I am disappointed in the overall statement from the Council of Bishops.  Rather than using this opportunity to talk about the position of the United Methodist Church concerning sexual matters, and the reasons for those positions, including the consistent gospel tension expressed in the position, the bishops chose, instead, to speak about the diversity and lack of consensus within the denomination.

Bishop Michael Coyner (my bishop, as I serve within the United Methodist Church) said, “I was pleased that our Council of Bishops took a careful and prayerful look at the events surrounding the action of Bishop Talbert to celebrate a same-gender marriage in the state of Alabama against the request of the resident Bishop and the Executive Committee of the Council that he not do so. After deep discussion, hearing from all sides, and engaging in Christian conferencing with one another, the Council took the only action which was legally possible for us. Now it is in the hands of the processes outlined by our Book of Discipline, and that is the appropriate and official locus of the next steps.”

Again, I am a bit disappointed with Bishop Coyner's statement that, "the Council took the only action which was legally possible for us."  -  It sounds very much like, "We didn't want to do this, but our hands were tied, so we had to, legally."  This, again, rather than taking the opportunity to talk about the consistent position of the denomination and how Bishop Talbert's actions have led to this unfortunate situation.

The full statement from the Council of Bishops can be read, here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

+Justin Cantuar on Baptism

Here is a video of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, talking about baptism.  The occasion for the video is the christening of Prince George, but the video is being used to promote baptism, in general, and the family of the Church.

I originally discovered the video on the blog site of Lee Adams, who is a part of the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook group.  (The Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook group has become the primary "face" of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society.)  Of course, the video, along with others, can also be viewed at the website for the Archbishop of Canterbury.  -  But, for your convenience, you can simply view it, below!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Few Quotes from Tom Noble

I just finished reading Holy Trinity: Holy People: The Theology of Christian Perfecting by T. A. Noble, Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon.  -  Thomas Noble is Professor of Theology at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO (where I did my M.Div., though he was not teaching there when I attended).  He is also Senior Research Fellow in Theology at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, UK, and recently served as the president of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

The book is a part of the Didsbury Lecture Series.  These lectures are given annually at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester.  Dr. Noble notes, at the beginning, that "since the Church of the Nazarene stands in the Wesleyan tradition, and is . . . a member of the World Methodist Council, we decided to call the series the 'Didsbury Lectures' to commemorate the former Methodist Didsbury College.  -  Five of the first ten Didsbury lecturers were Methodists" (xi).  (Incidentally, as I look back through the list of lecturers, I note that two of my former seminary professors were included in the list, as were some other well known names like I. Howard Marshall, C.K. Barrett, J.D.G. Dunn, and then there was the Rt. Rev'd N.T. Wright in 2005.)

In the book, Noble grounds the doctrine of Christian Perfection in the Holy Trinity, and he clearly shows how Wesley inherited the doctrine from the Church Fathers.

But, for the purpose of the is post, I simply wanted to highlight a few quotes found in the last few pages of the book; quotes that focus us on worship, liturgy and the sacraments.

In talking about the essential nature of corporate holiness Noble says:
     Even Wesley's preaching on Christian holiness concentrates on the individual, but it was the warm fellowship of what were significantly called Methodist "Societies" that were the matrix of holy love which produced genuine Methodist saints.  And his revival of the ancient "love feast" (the agape), along with his strong emphasis on the importance of the Lord's Supper, which is after all not just a "Eucharist" (Thanksgiving), but "Holy Communion" (hagia koinonia), was at the heart of his creative organization of the Methodist Societies.  Too many of Wesley's heirs have lost that focus, being influenced by a "low church" suspicion of liturgy, but a recovery of the church as the matrix for Christian holiness will necessarily include a rediscovery of the centrality of the sacraments (221).

(To which I give a hearty, "Amen!")

Speaking of the mission of God and the Church, Noble says:

     The missio Dei is not the End.  Or to put that another way, the End will end the mission.  Continuing the missio Dei is not the ultimate purpose of God and so mission is not the ultimate purpose of the church.  At the End, the eschaton, the end of "the present evil age" (Galatians 1:4), the mission Dei will end.  It will be completed.  That is vitally important because it means that while mission is an integral and essential part of the nature of the church in this age, it is not what ultimately makes the church to be the church.  The church will still be the church, the body of Christ, in the age to come.  The salvation of the world through the missio Dei is therefore the penultimate purpose of the church, but the ultimate purpose of the church is the glory of God (222).

He goes on to say, "That implies then that the ultimate purpose of the church - the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church - is the worship of the Triune God.  That will be the life of the church in the age to come, and that is the heart of the raison d'eter of the church today" (222).

A little later, Noble, thinking of Marva Dawns work in A Royal "Waste" of Time, says that worship "is done not to gain anything, or achieve anything, or win anything, or produce anything.  It is simply the sheer joy of participating in the loving relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity, knowing that in doing so, we are united with all the human persons redeemed to be part of that eternal joyous fellowship" (223).

It is exciting to see how Noble demonstrates the essential nature of our sacramental worship for the doctrine of Christian Perfection.  This is yet another positive sign of liturgical/sacramental awakening and renewal for those who stand in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition!

Noble concludes his book by quoting Charles Wesley's hymn of "ecstatic Trinitarian worship":

Father of everlasting grace,
Thy goodness and Thy truth we praise;
Thy goodness and Thy truth we prove;
Thou has, in honour of Thy Son,
The gift unspeakable sent down,
The Spirit of life, and power, and love.
Send us the Spirit of Thy Son,
To make the depths of Godhead known,
To make us share the life divine;
Send Him the sprinkled blood to apply,
Send him our souls to sanctify,
And show and seal us ever Thine.
So shall we pray, and never cease,
So shall we thankfully confess,
Thy wisdom, truth, and power, and love;
With joy unspeakable adore,
And bless and praise Thee evermore,
And serve Thee with Thy hosts above.
Till, added to that heavenly choir,
We raise our songs of triumph higher,
And praise Thee in a bolder strain,
Out-soar the first-born seraph's flight,
And sing, with all our friends in light,
Thy everlasting love to man.

Friday, November 8, 2013

For Those Walking the Ancient Path: Devotional Sharing

This morning, as I prayed Morning Prayer, I read two passages of Scripture that struck me.  They struck me enough that I quoted both on my Facebook profile. 

The first was the Psalm I read today: Psalm 139, and in particular verses 23-24.  In the New Revised Standard Version the Psalm reads, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  See if there s any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

I also read in Jeremiah.  There, the verse that stood out to me was the 16th verse of chapter 6: "Thus says the LORD: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."

Now, it may seem obvious why the latter verse would stand out to me.  After all, I think of myself as one who tries, by the grace of God, to walk in the "Ancient Path."  This blog and the Wesleyan-Anglican Society are expressions of that call back to the ancient path.  More specifically is the call to what the late Robert Webber has called "Ancient-Future" worship.

Recent conversations I have had with others have proven to be difficult.  They have caused me some struggles, and these passages in my prayers this morning have been very helpful, comforting and affirming for me.

Following the morning Office, I continued my personal prayers and went to re-read and re-pray those verses from the 139th Psalm.  What I noticed in the footnotes of my NRSV was that the part that says, "and lead me in the way everlasting," can be rendered "and lead me in the ancient way!"  Further, the footnoted said to compare it with Jeremiah 6:16, the very passage that I had also read, this morning!

Now, I readily confess, I do not have anything Hebrew or any commentaries on hand to check out the suggested translation (they are in my other study).  However, I found new insight into the familiar verses of the Psalm, and I found these passages to be (as I said) very helpful, comforting and affirming.

My prayer is that my sharing this may be helpful, comforting and affirming to other sisters and brothers who, like me, are seeking to follow Christ on the Ancient Path by the grace of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  -   To God be the glory!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

An Article on the Eucharistic Presence of Christ

I like to try to point readers of this blog toward good articles covering liturgical/sacramental or Wesleyan topics.  Recently, on the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook page, Matt O'Reilly drew our attention to an article that he posted on his blog.  His article is titled, "Eucharist and Presence: Embracing Mystery, Finding Joy," and it can be found, here.

I recommend the article as expressing a Wesleyan approach to . . . Eucharist and presence!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Saints'

Yesterday was All Saints' Day.  Thus, I'm a little late with this post, but, since many Protestant churches transfer All Saints' Day to the following Sunday and observe All Saints' on Sunday, I thought I would go ahead and post!  (Plus, I did post an article on All Hallow's Eve, so that's not too bad!)

As The United Methodist Book of Worship reminds us, "All Saints (November 1 or the first Sunday in November) is a day of remembrance for the saints, with the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place.  We celebrate the communion of saints as we remember the dead, both of the Church universal and of our local congregations.  For this reason, the names of persons in the congregation who have died during the past year may be solemnly read as a Response to the Word."

Since, All Saints' is not only a recognition of death, but also a celebration of life through the Resurrection, all of the paraments, banners & stoles are white, which is the joyful and festive color used at Christmas and Easter.

All Saints' was a favorite of John Wesley's.  He mentioned it four times in his journal.  On All Saints' in 1748, Wesley said, "Being All-Saints' day, we had a solemn assembly at the chapel; as I cannot but observe, we have had on this very day, for several years.  Surely, 'right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints!'"  In 1756 Wesley says, "November 1, was a day of triumphant joy, as All-Saints' Day generally is.  How superstitious are they who scruple giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints!"  In 1767, he included in his journal the following comments: "Being All-Saints' Day, (a festival I dearly love,) I could not but observe the admirable propriety with which the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the day are suited to each other." 

The Collect for the day from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (which would be the Pray Book Wesley used) reads as follows (and I would encourage all to pray):

O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
The Epistle was Revelation 7:2-12.  The Gospel was Matthew 5:1-12.  -  I would encourage you to read these Scripture lessons.
The year prior to this entry, Wesley wrote, "'God, who hath knit together his elect in one communion and fellowship,' gave us a solemn season at West-Street (as usual) in praising him for all his Saints.  On this day in particular, I commonly find the truth of these words:
The Church triumphant in his love,
Their mighty joys we know;
They praise the Lamb in hymns above,
And we in hymns below."
That is the second verse of Charles Wesley's "Happy the Souls to Jesus Joined."  Unfortunately, that hymn is not found in either The United Methodist Hymnal, nor the Nazarene's Sing to the Lord hymnal.  Three verses of it did appear in the older The Methodist Hymnal.  The four verses, below, were taken from the Wesley Hymns book, compiled by Ken Bible and published by Lillenas Publishing Company (Nazarene):
1.) Happy the souls to Jesus joined
And saved by grace alone.
Walking in all Thy ways they find
Their heaven on earth begun.
2.) The Church triumphant in Thy love,
Their mighty joys we know;
They sing the Lamb in hymns above,
And we in hymns below.
3.) Thee in Thy glorious realm they praise,
And bow before Thy throne;
We in the kingdom of Thy grace;
The kingdoms are but one.
4.) The holy to the holiest leads;
From thence our spirits rise.
He that in all Thy statutes treads
Shall meet Thee in the skies.
Since the hymn is in common meter, it can be sung to a number of familiar tunes, not the least of which is Wesley's "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (Azmon).  We will be singing it this Sunday to Land of Rest (which is the tune that the Nazarene hymnal uses for Wesley's "All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord").
It is unfortunate that more of our churches do not have an All Saints' Day service on November 1, no matter the day on which it falls.  However, with the transference that most Protestant churches do, to the following Sunday, All Saints' becomes a major focus during the primary service of worship. 
May God be praised for all of His saints who have finished their course and have become for us such a great cloud of witnesses!
The Journal entries were taken from the Jackson edition of Wesley's Works.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallows' Eve: What To Do With Halloween?

A number of years ago, during a time of family devotions, we were talking about the “PACT” form of prayer: Praise, Ask, Confess, and Thank. In the devotion we were reading, we were also asked to read the Lord’s Prayer, and then the lesson asked which part of the Lord’s Prayer fit each letter of PACT.

The very first one, of course was Praise, and my wife asked what part of the Lord’s Prayer was praise. Well, I immediately raised my hand and said, “I know, I know.” And so, my wife called on me. Do you know which part of the Lord’s Prayer is considered praise? - “Our Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be thy Name.” You see, in that prayer we are saying, “May your Name be hallowed.”

Now, when I said that, one of our kids immediately asked, “What does hallowed mean? Is it like Halloween?” - What do you think? When we pray, “Hallowed be thy Name,” is it like Halloween?

I think that question goes to the question that is often asked in Christian circles, “What do we do with Halloween?” - You know, when I was a kid, our church used to have Halloween parties every year. We used to hold it out in the woods at the Optimist Club building. It was a great time. I remember going, and our family arrived early one year. It was the year that I was dressed up like the Incredible Hulk. I had a rubber Hulk mask and inflatable muscles. Anyway, because we arrived early, we split up and hid. I think I hid behind a tree in the surrounding woods. Then we would each one “arrive” at different times, so as to help disguise who we really were. One year I was Scooby Doo. (That was before I could do the Scooby Doo voice.) We had a really great time.

However, as time went by, I encountered Christians at other churches (even within the same denomination) who would never do such a thing. From their perspective, Halloween was an evil, even Satanic celebration. It was to be avoided completely.

Some suggested Christian alternatives, sometimes called Hallelujah Parties, instead of Halloween Parties. These ranged from events where you could dress up, so long as there were no monsters, or evil costumes, to events where you could only dress as Bible characters, to no costumes allowed whatsoever. - And I learned never to assume anything about people’s position with regard to Halloween.

So it leaves us with the question, since there are a range of opinions, what ought we, as Christians, do about Halloween?

Well, when the question was asked, “What does hallowed mean? Is it like Halloween?” I said, “Actually, it is like Halloween.” - You see, to hallow is to make or to declare something or someone to be holy. We are saying to God, “Your name is holy.” - And Halloween is a form of All Hallow’s Evening, or All Hallow’s Eve; Hallowe-‘en. In other words it is the evening before All Hallow’s Day, or All Holy One’s Day, which we know as . . . All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1st or the first Sunday, thereafter. - All Saints, by the way, was one of John Wesley’s favorite days.

Now, since that is the case, it should at least make Christians stop and consider a bit before we simply declare Halloween to be evil and Satanic. - But, of course there is more to the story. - So, how did Halloween come about with all of our costumes and customs?

Well, in Ireland, the ancient Druids, prior to the arrival of Christianity, marked the coming of the new year on November 1st. Like so many groups, their calendars were governed by the seasons of the year, especially the times of harvest. Around November the season would changed from the time of harvest to winter; that is, to the time when things died.

October 31st was called Samhain (often pronounced SOW-in), the Celtic word for the end of Summer. In their Pagan superstitions they believed that on October 31st, the end of the year and the beginning of the time of death, the curtain between the living and the dead became blurred. On this night, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead would return to this world.

This was their reasoning: When the dead are buried, they are buried under the ground. During the Summer months, the grass is green and alive, the flowers bloom, the trees are full of life, and they are, therefore, able to keep the dead buried. But when the trees and flowers all die, and the grass turns brown, what is there to keep the dead buried? They are, therefore, able to escape . . . at least for that one night.

Well, in addition to damaging crops, it was believed that these spirits made it easier for the Druid priests to see into the future so that they could determine whether the crops would survive the winter, etc. Therefore, they would have a ritual of sorts involving a large bonfire, burning crops and animal sacrifices while wearing disguises (like animal costumes), which would confuse and ward off any evil spirits.

Now, by the ninth-Century, as the Church spread throughout the land, the Church did what the Church has always done. It sought to appropriate and redeem, or transform and sanctify the secular or the Pagan. It sought to “redeem the time” or the day, as St. Paul says, and claim it for Christ. And here is how the Church went about it:

Early on, it was the custom of the Church to remember the Martyrs. - As early as the 4th century the Church in the East held a feast to honor all of the martyred saints, together. On May 13, 610, relics of martyrs were moved from some catacombs to the Pantheon, and the bishop of Rome, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the building with the title of the feast of All Martyrs and All Saints and Our Lady.

Now, fast forward to the ninth-Century, again, when the Church had spread throughout the Celtic land. It was in 835 that the new bishop of Rome, Pope Gregory III, designated November 1st as All Saints Day, many believe in an attempt to Christianize the Celtic holiday. Thus, Samhain became All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween. - By the way, we also know that by A.D. 1000, there were parades and bonfires and people dressed in costumes of saints and angels, etc. in order to honor and celebrate those saints who had died in the faith.

Now, in America, the Puritan settlers didn’t want anything to do with those Pagan, and more importantly foreign customs. But, when Irish immigrants came over, in such a new setting, their customs began to take on new forms. So, any remaining Pagan elements of their customs quickly vanished. Bonfires were often replaced with candles in pumpkins. (I’ll not take time to go into the history of the Jack-O-lantern.) Animal disguises to ward off evil spirits became children’s costumes. And an American holiday was born.

So, those customs that the Church failed to transform the good ole’ American marketplace succeeded in secularizing. - Unfortunately, it has also had great success in secularizing such holy days as Christmas and Easter, as well. So much so that many Christians fail to observe the important season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, and then once Christmas Day arrives, they are ready to pack everything away; thus, failing to celebrate the twelve days of the Christmas season. Oh, how we have allowed the secular marketplace to de-Christianize us! But that’s another story for another time!

So with all of this in mind, what ought we to do with Halloween? First, respect the convictions of those around us. But, having said that, my opinion is, let the kids (and adults) have fun. And as a Church, use the opportunity to teach our children (and adults) about those who have gone before us in the faith.

Now, in our post-modern, post-Christian age, with the resurgence of various spiritualities such as Wicca and Paganism, the Pagan versions of Samhain is certainly experiencing a resurgence, at least in certain pockets of our population. Christians do need to be aware of this.  Nevertheless, I think that we who are in Christ ought to join with St. Paul and the saints throughout the ages by faithfully redeeming the time for the glory of God!
(The article, above, is a modified reprint of one of my previous articles.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My "Authentic Christian Worship" Video

During the General Assembly of the international Church of the Nazarene held last June in Indianapolis, I had the opportunity to present a workshop on "Authentic Christian Worship Using John Wesley's Criteria."  -  I have to say, I had a great time, and I am thankful to have had this opportunity.  I am also thankful for all of the positive feedback I received from a number of those who attended the "packed-out" workshop.

The workshop, itself, led to the opportunity to participate in a video interview for Grace & Peace Magazine.  I have added a link to the video on my sidebar.  But, for those not wanting to take the time to click on the link . . . here is the video:

Todd Stepp - Authentic Christian Worship from John Wesley's Perspective from Church of the Nazarene on Vimeo.

Grace & Peace Magazine has provided a host of videos on the topic of worship (as well as other topics.)  Some of the videos fit better with a Wesleyan/Anglican understanding of liturgy & the sacraments than do other videos, but the page is definitely worth taking a look at, especially for those interested in the thoughts of folks in the Church of the Nazarene.  The video page can be viewed, here.

A special thanks goes out to Bryon McLaughlin & all the folks at Grace & Peace Magazine!

(Any district or local church that may be interested in my presenting a workshop along these lines can feel free to contact me!  If it works with my schedule, I would love to present on this topic!)

Common Prayer Texts Finally Available!


This past week the Anglican Church in North America finally made public their Texts for Common Prayer in downloadable format.  (I would have posted this earlier, but I am having some serious issues with my laptop!)  -  The texts include Morning and Evening Prayer, the Holy Eucharist, and the Ordinal. 

This is such exciting news for many of us who have been waiting for the ACNA to produce a Book of Common Prayer; something that is closer to the 1662 version (and, thus, closer to Wesley's version), but which is more "user friendly," i.e., in contemporary English.  It is hoped that it does include some of the good moves that the '79 Prayer Book made (e.g., the recovery of the Passing of the Peace), without making all of the theological shifts made there and without diverging so drastically from the common prayer tradition.

Also exciting is the statement made on the download site that says, "Although Texts for Common Prayer is copyrighted, many of the texts herein are in the public domain. Nothing in the copyright is designed to prohibit congregations from the free use of the texts in the form published."

It has been my hope that the ACNA would publish a form that could simply be taken over and utilized in a Wesleyan/Anglican worship setting.  With the downloadable option, it is likely that, if there are parts that stray from a Wesleyan understanding, they could be edited for use in a Wesleyan setting (though, I am hopeful that such will not be necessary!).

I should note (as does the article) that these are all still "working" texts.  That means that they are not necessarily in final form.  However, they are the approved texts for the Province.  It is hoped that a book form of these texts will be available by January 1, 2014. -  Until then, the texts, themselves, can be downloaded, here.  I have also included a link to them on my sidebar in the Books of Common Prayer section.

For more information about the liturgy project and the Texts for Common Prayer, click, here.

I look forward to praying these forms of the Daily Office, and I look forward to looking more closely at the service for Holy communion.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Praying the Litany

One of the spiritual disciplines that members of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society are encouraged to take on is the praying of the Litany each Wednesday and Friday.  -  The Litany is found in the Book of Common Prayer (in its various forms).  In the 1662 BCP of the Church of England, this "General Supplication" was said to be sung or said after Morning Prayer upon Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

John Wesley passed the Litany on to "the people called Methodists" in his conservative revision of the Prayer Book, which he titled, The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America.  The instruction that Wesley gives in The Sunday Service is that it should be prayed on Wednesdays and Fridays.

One of my colleagues and fellow WAS member, the Rev'd. Daniel McLain Hixon, has given a rendering of the Litany in modern language based on Wesley's version and compared with the 1662 & 1979 Books of Common Prayer.  He has posted this version on his blog, Gloria Deo.  -  I prayed this version, yesterday, and commend it for your consideration.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Change on the Journey

It has been a long time since I last posted!  -  I have simply been very busy.  Oh, I have had lots of ideas, but have not gotten around to posting them.  -  I hope to get back into a regular habit of posting.

Although this may not be the most positive post to make for my "come back," it seems that today is the most appropriate time to make it, because today is the celebration of the Feast of Saint Luke. 
As such, this is the day that all of the members of the Order of Saint Luke renew their vows and commitments to the Order.  However, for the first time in since 2000, I will not be making those vows.

It is not that I have changed my position concerning the content of the vows, themselves.  They are still very much a part of who I am.  I still "Affirm the Apostolic Hope; Live for the Church of Jesus Christ; Magnify the Sacraments; Seek the Sacramental Life; Promote the Corporate Worship of the Church; Accept the call to Service as put forth by the discipline of the Church and (much of) the Practice of the Order; and, by and large Abide by the Rules of the Order and Indicate that Commitment by Study, Service, Gifts and Practice."  Except, of course, for those things that are specific to membership in the Order, I hold all of these, still.

The problem that I have wrestled with over the years has been the tolerance for such theological and social liberalness (or whatever term you want to use).  It has amazed me, over the years, how many people who are so "conservative" liturgically are so "liberal" theologically, and how many who are so "conservative" theologically are so "liberal" liturgically.  (And, yes, I recognize that those labels are ambiguous and not tremendously helpful.)  Those are just general observations.  It is not to say that all in the OSL fit the former category.  Far from it.  But there is certainly an openness to those who do.

I have had debates with folks in the cyber-chapter of the OSL a number of times over the years.  Those debates were wearisome, and at times even became heated for some in the group.  (In at least one case, maybe a couple of cases, I don't recall, it led to person/s being removed, or their removing themselves.)  Yet, I stuck with the group, because those issues were not at the heart of what the group was supposed to be about.  And, also, because the group was officially tied to the United Methodist Church, and therefore, officially lived under the UMC's social standards.

Those ties are no longer there.  And, while the Order is not likely to actually take an official stand on various social issues, much of what held the Order in check, in this regard, (as I see it) has been removed.

I finally came to the place where I simply did not read the posts on the cyber-chapter, because they could become such an emotional drain for me and a distraction.  Now, that it is time to make my renewal of vows, I have decided not to do so.

Oh, there is still much value in the Order.  I am quite thankful for their publications.  I am sure I will continue to purchase interesting books from them.  And I am very thankful for the Order providing me an opportunity for a liturgical outlet, for conversations, opportunities for learning, a recognition that I am not "alone," and for an introduction to colleagues who have also walked on the "Canterbury Trail."  I thank God for the place that the Order has had in my journey, and for their continued work in worship renewal.  And I pray that God will guide them into the future.

Yet, for me, the newly formed/forming Wesleyan-Anglican Society has filled the void of the Order.  There are, of course, those who hold dual membership.  The Society is not quite the same thing as the Order, and it has not sought to duplicate it.  However, in some ways, it does correspond.  There is the same deep commitment to liturgical & sacramental worship and living.  One difference, however, is that the theological, liturgical, and sacramental emphasis in the Society is more specifically Wesleyan & Anglican, while the Order is much more broad in scope.  The Society seeks to remain consistent within the classical Wesleyan (and, thus, orthodox) theological camp.  Again, the Order is much more broad.  So, in this sense, the Society could be seen as a more conservatively Wesleyan, orthodox alternative to the Order.

The vision of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society is as follows: 
The Wesleyan-Anglican Society is an association of Methodist[1] Christians from various Wesleyan and Anglican denominations who understand themselves to be classically Wesleyan in theology and who embrace a classically Wesleyan-Anglican view of liturgy and the sacraments.
And the purpose of the Society is as follows:
The Wesleyan-Anglican Society seeks:
  1. To provide a means of support, encouragement, and fellowship for those who seek to live out a fully Wesleyan understanding of the Christian faith, especially (but not exclusively) in connection with the liturgy of the Church of England as received by the various Wesleyan and Anglican denominations and the sacraments of the church catholic as understood by the same.
  2. To provide a means for Wesleyans and Anglicans all over the world to exchange ideas, experiences, and fellowship as it relates to the reclamation of a Wesleyan theological understanding of the Christian faith, a Wesleyan way of life, and a Wesleyan-Anglican expression of worship.
  3. To be a resource for the promotion of a more holistic Wesleyan understanding of the Christian faith for the churches and denominations within the Wesleyan-Anglican family; especially the promotion of a Wesleyan-Anglican expression of Christian worship.
While the website for the Society can be found, here, it is still in process of development.  The best way to connect with the Society is through the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook page, here.  One can find access to the WAS constitution in the files section of the Facebook group.

[1] The term Methodist is not intended as a reference to the United Methodist Church or any other particular World Methodist Council denomination (e.g., AME, AMEZ, Church of the Nazarene, CME, Free Methodist Church, or The Wesleyan Church).  Rather, it is being used as a synonym for Wesleyan and refers to those who seek to be Wesleyan in theology as well as live according to the General Rules of Methodism as expressed in the various Wesleyan/Methodist denominations.  Thus, the term is inclusive of individuals across a range of Wesleyan and Anglican denominations as well as other denominations.  The term Methodist was chosen over Wesleyan in order to make the clear connection with those writings of John Wesley which refer to “the people called Methodists.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Logo

Well, there is not much news from the General Assembly, thus far.  One more session to go for the evening (7:30 - 9:30 pm).  -  I am hopeful that we will elect a new general superintendent (i.e., bishop) this evening.  Time will tell.

One thing that was revealed last week was a new logo for the denomination.  It has met with mixed reviews.  Here is the video that introduces it:

So, what do you think?

Fraternal Delegates

The General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene has entered into the actual business phase. 

I was very pleased that our general superintendents were faithful to their episcopal position by calling the delegation and guests to an hour of prayer during the first hour of business.

Another thing that I was very pleased to hear was that our fraternal delegates from sister denominations included (perhaps for the first time?!) a representative of the United Methodist Church.  We have always been invited to their General Conference, but they have not been included in our General Assembly.  Instead we have tended to stick with our closest Wesleyan-holiness sister denominations.  This time we have included the UMC, as well.

The full list of denominations represented by fraternal delegates includes:  The United Methodist Church, The Wesleyan Church, the Brethren in Christ, the Salvation Army, the Evangelical Methodist Church, the Evangelical Church, the Free Methodist Church, and the Missionary Church.  (It may very well be that others were also invited, but these are the ones who have attended).

I plan to be updating the blog on business decisions that I consider to be significant (or at least those things that I am more interested in!)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nazarene General Assembly Begins

It has begun!  The 2013 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene!  -  Well, to be exact, the General Assembly actually begins on Sunday, but the General Conventions have begun.

The General Assembly and Conventions run from June 19 - 27 in Indianapolis.

The Church of the Nazarene’s General Assembly and Conventions convenes every four years, bringing together more than 20,000 Nazarenes from around the world.

The main priority of the General Assembly and Conventions is to bring glory to God. This global event unifies, renews, educates, shapes, and inspires attendees not only as Nazarenes, but also as followers of Christ.
We gather together to focus on our church’s mission, “To Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations.” 
This is also the place where decisions will be made concerning the Resolutions I published on this blog last August.  -  I expect to be blogging about them, as action is taken, beginning Monday.  -  Hopefully, I will have good news to report!
I am particularly excited about this General Assembly, because I will be presenting a workshop tomorrow (Thursday, June 20) morning.  The title of the workshop is "Authentic Christian Worship Using John Wesley's Criteria."  It is scheduled for 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM, and will be located in Room 243.  -  If you will be at General Assembly, tomorrow morning, I would love to see you in the workshop! 
More information on the General Assembly can be found, here. 
For those unable to attend the Assembly, there will be live streaming available.  (Although, the workshops are not a part of the live streaming.  However, I am told audio of the workshops will eventually be available on-line.)
Hope to see some of you at my workshop!

Wesleyan-Anglican Society News

The Wesleyan-Anglican Society now has a new banner (above) and our new, official seal (below).  We also have a new website, though it is in its very early stages.  (It is still best to connect with the Society through our Facebook page.)

Our membership comes from various Wesleyan/Methodist & Anglican denominations.  It is international in scope.

We are still trying to overcome some hurdles in establishing our bank account, so that we can proceed in collecting dues from members.  However, for the time being, we are still accepting new members, and we will get information concerning dues to our members once we establish our account.  (Dues have been set at $30 and $15 for students.  However, a waiver may be granted due to financial concerns.)

Our constitution can be found in the files section of our Facebook page.  -  I would encourage those who visit this blog to take a look at the constitution and consider whether membership in the Society might be for you!  (Joining the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook group does NOT constitute membership in the Society.)

At this time, membership requests may be sent to me via Facebook messaging.  If you are not on Facebook you can comment, below, leaving me your email address.

We have a growing membership, and it is my hope that YOU will choose to be a part of it!

Todd A. Stepp+
Wesleyan-Anglican Society

Friday, May 31, 2013

One Way of Moving to a Weekly Celebration of the Sacrament

Breaking of the bread. Español: Fracción del p...

Teddy Ray has posted an article on his site presenting a way to move a congregation to a weekly celebration of the Eucharistic sacrament. 

I have pointed out that his article is United Methodist specific in a couple of ways, especially when it comes to what to do if the congregation does not end up "on board."  First, it assumes a certain pastoral authority when it comes to ordering worship.  While some in other Methodist traditions (e.g., The Wesleyan Church or the Church of the Nazarene) may agree, theologically (or not), the fact is The Book of Discipline gives United Methodist pastors such authority.  The Nazarene Manual (and I believe it is the case with the Wesleyan Discipline) is less explicit in this matter.  Second, he assumes an assured appointment system.  This is not the case for those in a call system.  So, for those in a call system, the "fall out" for moving ahead if the congregation is not "on board" can be much greater.

Still, I think that the article is a good read for all of those who see the move to a weekly celebration of the sacrament as of vital importance in the life of the Church.

The article can be found, here. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Trinity Sunday

Tomorrow the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is one of the mysteries of faith, but the Church, from ancient times, has confessed its faith in the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The denomination in which I am currently serving (the United Methodist Church) is no exception to the orthodox Christian faith.   Neither is my own denomination (the Church of the Nazarene).  Our very first Article of Faith confesses our belief in the Triune God. Additionally, in our Manual's "Historical Statement," we state that the Church of the Nazarene ". . . receives the ecumenical creeds of the first five Christian centuries as expressions of its own faith." Along side the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed (which, in my local setting, we have made it a practice of confessing alternatingly each Sunday), we find that creed which John Wesley identifies as the best explication of the Trinity he ever saw (cf., his sermon "On the Trinity"), that is the so called Athanasian Creed (or Quicunque Vult) written, most likely within the fifth-century.

The words at the beginning and conclusion of the creed tying the necessity of assent to this faith with salvation have caused much difficulty for many. (Thus, on my side-bar link to the creed, I affirm the faith of the creed as an expression of "Wesleyan/Anglican Belief," while not including the "damnatory statements.")  However, according to Ray Dunning, "Edmund J. Fortman says that it is not suggesting that the 'Catholic faith' is merely an intellectual assent but rather that it involves the 'worship of one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity'" (Grace, Faith and Holiness, 226). Wesley, himself, said, "I am far from saying, he who does not assent to this 'shall without doubt perish everlastingly.' For the sake of that an another clause, I, for some time, scrupled subscribing to that creed; till I considered,(1.) That these sentences only relate to wilful, not involuntary, unbelievers; to those who, having all the means of knowing the truth, nevertheless obstinately reject it: (2.) That they relate only to the substance of the doctrine there delivered; not the philosophical illustrations of it" ("On the Trinity"). - Whether one still has trouble with those lines, even after Fortman's and Wesley's explanation, the Athanasius Creed is still a wonderfully thorough confession of Trinitarian faith.

Although, it has been said that it is far too long for liturgical use, I do know at least one Lutheran pastor whose congregation uses it every Trinity Sunday (and I'm sure they are not alone).

I strongly encourage those who are unfamiliar with the creed to read it by clicking, here. (Sorry, it's a bit too long for me to reproduce on my blog.)

Please join me in this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Last Day to Join As a "Founding Member" of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society

Aldersgate Day (see the post, below) is the official start of the year for the Wesleyan- Anglican Society.   It is also the last day to join the Society as a "Founding Member."   If you have not already joined the Society, but would would like to do so, I would encourage you to read the Constitution.  It can be found in the files section of the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook page, here.  Then, those wishing to join can message me (through Facebook), stating your desire to be a member.   Please include in that message your name, address, phone, email, denomination/jurisdiction, and your clergy/laity status (if the former, which order).   I will then add your name to the Founding Member's list.

(Dues have been set at $30 & $15 for students, with the possibility of a waiver if there is a financial issue. We are not yet collecting dues, but are working on getting a bank account set up.)  

Aldersgate Day

*Today is the day that all good Wesleyans/Methodists celebrate! Today is Aldersgate Day! Now, it may be that a few of the readers of this blog may be unfamiliar with Aldersgate. And, of course, it is a strange name, thus, it is not easy to discern what it is about. So, what is Aldersgate Day?

In a nutshell, it is the anniversary of John Wesley's "Evangelical Conversion." As the United Methodist Book of Worship puts it, "On Wednesday, May 24, 1738, John Wesley experienced his 'heart strangely warmed.' This Aldersgate experience was crucial for his own life and became a touchstone for the Wesleyan movement."

Aldersgate Memorial in London
So, why is it called "Aldersgate"? Well, the name refers to Aldersgate Street, the location of the Society meeting where Wesley experienced his strangely warmed heart.

Prior to this Aldersgate experience, Wesley had sought assurance of his sins forgiven, but he was unable to obtain it through his many pious works.

During his trip to Georgia, where he would serve as a missionary, the ship on which he was sailing encountered a terrible storm . . . right in the middle of their time of worship. But the thing that caught Wesley’s attention was that, while the English on board were screaming for fear of their lives, the Germans simply continued singing.

Wesley asked one of them, “Weren’t you afraid? Weren’t your women and children afraid?” The man simply said, “Thank the Lord, we were not afraid; we are not afraid to die.”

Later, Wesley met with one of the German pastors for advice. The pastor asked him, “Do you have the witness within? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?” Wesley was caught off guard (not something that happened very often). And so the pastor asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” Wesley said, “I know he is the Savior of the world.” The pastor replied, “That’s true, but do you know he has saved you?” Wesley said, “I hope he has died to save me.” “But do you know?” And then comes those powerful lines from John Wesley, “I said, ‘I do.’ But I fear they were vain words.”

This marker is located at the probable
site of Wesley's Aldersgate experience
However, what was to happen to Wesley on May 24, 1738 would forever change his answer, and forever change the world.

John Wesley, himself, describes what took place that evening in his journal as follows: "In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

Another marker in memorial of John & Charles'
"Evangelic Conversions"
Wesleyan/Methodists remember and observe Aldersgate Day, because it not only shaped the life and ministry of John Wesley, but also the entire Methodist movement from that time until today. It not only marks the spiritual experience of Mr. Wesley, but it calls us to worship the God who still "strangely warms the hearts" of all who place their trust in Christ alone as Lord and Savior. This experience illustrates so well the Biblical doctrine of Assurance.

We can, by grace through faith, know our sins forgiven. We can, by grace through faith, have an assurance that Christ has "taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." As the apostle Paul says, "For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . ." (Romans 8:15-16, NRSV). - Praise be to God!!

Let us pray: Almighty God, in a time of great need you raised up your servants John and Charles Wesley, and by your spirit inspired them to kindle a flame of sacred love which leaped and ran, an inextinguishable blaze. Grant that all those whose hearts have been warmed at these altar fires, being continually refreshed by your grace, may be so devoted to the increase of scriptural holiness throughout the land that in this our time of great need, your will may fully and effectively be done on earth as it is in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

(Prayer by Fred D. Gealy, as printed in the UMBW.)

(The pictures in this post were taken during my trip to England for the 2001 World Methodist Conference.)

*This post was originally posted in 2011.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost Sunday


Tomorrow (Sunday, 19 May 2013) the Church will celebrate the culmination of the Great Fifty Days, the conclusion of the Easter season, the outpouring of the promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church. - John the Baptizer had declared concerning Jesus, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16, NRSV).
Jesus assured the disciples that it would be to their advantage that He would ascend to the Father, because, in doing so, He would send the Holy Spirit (the Advocate/Comforter/Counselor/Helper - parakletos ) to them (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit would teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them (14:26), and the Holy Spirit would "prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement (16:8).
Further, Jesus told the apostles, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NRSV).
On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples saw the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit as told by John the Baptizer and the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophet Joel.  It is that same outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we enter into by faith and through our baptism, for St. Paul declares, "For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . ." (1 Cor. 12:13, NRSV).*
Pentecost is one of the major feast days of the Church, and it should be a great day of celebration for those of us in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. - I recall a conversation several years ago with a pastor from a Presbyterian (USA) congregation. He confessed, he really didn't know what to do with Pentecost. Now, I do not mean to imply that such is the case for all, or even a majority of Presbyterians. I don't know. However, whatever the case for my Presbyterian brother, Nazarenes, whether espousing a 19th century or a classical Wesleyan view (cf. footnote, below) ought to know how to celebrate Pentecost Sunday.
You see, one of the main benefits of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the possibility of having our hearts cleansed of sin. - As the prophet Ezekiel foretold, there was coming a day when God would ". . . sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statures and be careful to observe my ordinances" (Ezek. 36:25-27, NRSV). And St. Peter, referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the gentiles, argued, "And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us" (Acts 15:8-9).
It is this heart cleansing that has been at the heart (no pun intended!) of the Wesleyan & Methodist movement, and especially so for the Holiness branches of Methodism. It has been referred to by Wesley in connection with the Biblical doctrines of Entire Sanctification and Christian Perfection. In fact, the spread of scriptural holiness throughout the land was the stated purpose of Methodism, first by John Wesley in London in 1733, and then in America, at the famous Christmas Conference in Baltimore in 1784 at the founding of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was the commitment to this purpose that gave rise to the 19th century Holiness Movement within Methodism. And Phineas Bresee said of the Church of the Nazarene, that it is ". . . a part of that body of believers raised up to spread sanctified holiness over these lands, and thus that we are a part of that company who are the real successors of John Wesley and the early Methodists" (Nazarene Messenger, July 15, 1909).
And so, we Wesleyan Christians enthusiastically join our sisters and brothers in Christ from around the world to rejoice and give thanks to God on Pentecost Sunday for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we seek to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
*At this point, those within the Holiness movement will recognize that I take my stand with John Wesley, the Church of history, and those in the classical Wesleyan theological tradition, rather than those who are more consistent with 19th century interpretations. Those debates within the Holiness Movement can be seen in The Wesleyan Theological Journal between 1973 and 1982. Mark Quanstrom discusses it in A Century of Holiness Theology: The Doctrine of Entire Sanctification in the Church of the Nazarene, 1905-2004 (though his bias toward the 19th century view is apparent in his, not always completely accurate portrayal of members of "The Trevecca Connection").

Friday, May 17, 2013


Time is running out on becoming a "Founding Member" of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society.  The Society previously indicated that everyone who joined by Aldersgate Day (May 24) 2013 would be considered "Founding Members." Well, that date is just one week away!

I want to encourage the readers of this blog (if you have not already joined the Society) to go to the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook page.  There, you can click on the files section to view our Constitution.  If you agree with the membership requirements and would like to become a member, you can message me on Facebook, providing your name, address, phone, email, denomination/jurisdiction, and clergy/laity statue (if clergy, which order).  (If you don't have a Facebook account, leave a comment, and we will work out other arrangements.)

You should know, dues have been set (by vote of the Society) at $30 and $15 for students (with the possibility of a waiver due to financial difficulties).   However, we have had a bit of a set back, and are not yet ready to receive those dues.  As soon as we have established our banking account, we will notify members where they can send their dues.

I hope to hear from a number of you!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Good News for General Assembly

Those of us who have been concerned, in recent days, about the desire of some to move the Church of the Nazarene away from our historical Wesleyan identity and toward a position on the Scriptures that would be more consistent with fundamentalism can breathe a sigh of relief . . . at least for the time being.

"The Report of the Scripture Study Committee to the Twenty-Eighth General Assembly" has been made public.  In it, the Committee recommends rejecting a proposed resolution that would alter the Nazarene Article of Faith on Scripture in such a way as to affirm "complete inerrancy."  Such a position would be quite different from Articles in the historical Wesleyan/Methodist/Anglican tradition.  On the other hand, the position would be much more in line with modern fundamentalist statements about the Bible.  -  Thankfully, the Committee has proposed that we retain our current Article of Faith.  Further, they have presented a helpful evaluation of the strengths of our current Article of Faith.

I said that we "can breathe a sigh of relief . . . at least for the time being," because this is only a report and recommendation of this Committee.  It is a Committee charged with studying this situation, and, thus, the delegates of the General Assembly should give it the weight it is due.  Nevertheless, it is up to the General Assembly, not simply this Committee, to make the final decision.  So, it is possible for the Assembly to reject this Committee's recommendation.  -  However, the fact that the Committee has given such strong arguments for retaining our current position is a very good sign.

The Report can be read, here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anglican Roots of Wesleyanism

Here is a brief video of Dr. Melvin Dieter of The Wesleyan Church, who also taught at Asbury, as he talks about the Anglican roots of Wesleyanism.

Why Wesleyan?

Here is a video of Ben Witherington discussing why he is a Wesleyan Christian.  Dr. Witherington teaches New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, where I did my doctoral work.  He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

The video is a part of the "Seven Minute Seminary" series of videos through Asbury's Seedbed program.

More information about Dr. Witherignton can be found here. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wesleyan Theological Society Video

Here is a video by my friend, Brent Peterson, featuring highlights from the recent meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society in Seattle, WA.

I have been a member of the WTS since 1989, although I was not able to make this year's meeting.  I presented my paper, "Authentic Christian Worship: Discovering Wesley's Criteria" at the 2009 meeting of the Society.  That paper was published under the title, “Authentic Christian Worship:  Relevance of Wesley’s Criteria.” in the Wesleyan Theological Journal 45.2.  (Fall, 2010.)  (The full paper, for those interested, can be view, here.)

I would encourage Wesleyan Christians who are theologically minded to consider the WTS.  More information can be found on their website, here.  -  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video!

*** NOTE ****  -  I have been informed that the original link will soon be broken.  Here is the updated link.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Methodist Cardinal?

With the meeting of the Cardinals to elect a new Pope, I thought this would be a good time to mention a (probably) little known tidbit.  Namely, that, yes, indeed, it seems that there has been a Methodist Cardinal!

If one travels to the World Methodist Museum at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina (at the headquarters of the World Methodist Council), or if one picks up the book, Treasures of the World Methodist Museum, one will discover a ring given to Methodist Bishop, Fred P. Corson, by Pope Paul VI.  At the time that the Pope gave the ring to the Methodist Bishop, he said, "I have made you a Cardinal In Pectore."

A Cardinal In Pectore literally means, a Cardinal in my breast or heart.  It is a way that a Pope makes a "secret Cardinal."  Now, as a secret cardinal, they cannot function as a Cardinal unless and until the Pope makes such appointment public.  Indeed, in some cases, the person in question may not even be aware of their elevation to the position of Cardinal!  However, once it is made public, the Cardinal gains rank among the Cardinals from the time of his In Pectore appointment.  -  If the appointment is never made public, then the Cardinalship ceases at the time of the Pope's death.

It does not appear that Bishop Corson's appointment was ever made public by the Pope.  However, made public or not, whether one is able to function as Cardinal or not, whether one is aware that the Pope has given you that rank or not, a Cardinal In Pectore is, nevertheless, a real, true Cardinal (so long as the Pope is alive)!

Why would a Pope make a secret Cardinal?  In general, Popes may do so when it seems that such a person's life would be endangered by giving them such a position.  An example of this would be Cardinals named in the People's Republic of China or prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. . . . Perhaps another reason for making a "secret Cardinal" might be that the person in quesiton is a PROTESTANT, METHODIST BISHOP!

It really does raise the question, though, can the Pope really name as Cardinal a non-Roman Catholic, whose orders are not recognized by the Church of Rome?

Well, Bishop Corson was elected a Methodist Bishop in 1944.  He also served as the President of the World Methodist Council in 1961.  He was an observer at the Second Vatican Council.  He also held a number of private audiences Popes, and was considered to be close friends with Pope Paul VI.  -  And apparently the Bishop of Rome esteemed him so highly he made him a Cardinal In Pectore!

Pope Paul VI and Bishop Fred P. Corson
(picture found on eBay)
Bishop Corson died in 1985.  Pope Paul VI died in 1978.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Devotional Thought

As I was praying Morning Prayer, this morning, I sang the following hymn by Charles Wesley as found in Wesley Hymns, compile by Ken Bible, Lillenas Publishing (Nazarene), 1982.  The final line struck me, especially.


O My All-sufficient God

O my all-sufficient God,
Thou know'st my heart's desire;
Be this only thing bestowed;
I nothing else require,
Nothing else in earth or skies,
Not through all eternity;
Heav'n itself could not suffice:
I seek not Thine, but Thee.
Following the hymn, on the same page, was the following quote from John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection:
"One design you are to pursue to the end of time, the enjoyment of God in time and in eternity.  Desire other things so far as they tend to this; love the creature, as it leads to the Creator.  But in every step you take, be this the glorious point that terminates your view.  Let every affection, and thought, and word, and action, be subordinate to this.  Whatever you desire or fear, whatever you seek or shun, whatever you think, speak, or do, be it in order to your happiness in God,the sole end, as well as source, of your being."

The Final Meeting of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission

The following article has been copied from the original post at the Anglican Communion News Service.  -  I am very pleased to report it, here, and I look forward to the final reports being made public in 2014.

I have two great (personal) hopes for this:  1.) That the Wesleyan-Anglican Society, in our pursuit of affiliation with the World Methodist Council, might contribute to the proposed Anglican-Methodist International Coordinating Committee, the purpose of which would be to oversee and foster relationships between Methodist and Anglican member churches; and 2.) That the Church of the Nazarene (a WMC denomination) might take advantage of this report and the "toolkit" for opening talks with the Anglican Church in North America (which, I understand, is not an official Anglican Communion province, at this time).

Here is the article:

The final meeting of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission (AMICUM) took place 22 February to 1 March 2013, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, hosted by the Anglican Communion. Members of the Commission worshiped together morning and evening, and the Eucharist was celebrated according to both traditions.
Click for Hi-Res Image
AMICUM Group Photograph
Photo Credit: ACNS
The Commission has after five years completed the phase of work mandated to it by the World Methodist Council and the Anglican Communion, and has now prepared a report for both bodies. As the last three words in its title suggest (Unity in Mission), AMICUM aims to foster the unity of the Church so that the Church can engage more fully in God’s mission of love to the world. The report begins and ends with biblical reflections, on our Lord’s prayer for the unity of his people that all might believe, and on the radical nature of Jesus’ ministry as a mandate for mission.
AMICUM has set out key points of agreement concerning the interchangeability of ordained ministries, and the awareness of each Communion’s need of the other. It sees a common, interchangeable ministry as crucial in making the unity of the Church visible.
The report analyses the place of the apostolic tradition and the nature of the oversight (episkope) in the life of the Church. It explores the history of oversight, and the way it has been exercised in the Methodist and Anglican traditions, and the way it is exercised today.
AMICUM has closely monitored dialogues and agreements around the world, and has drawn lessons and recommendations from these which it now offers to both Communions. The report shows that each tradition has affirmed the authenticity of the other’s ministries, and encourages churches that have not yet entered into mutual agreements to do so.
A toolkit is provided for churches wanting to move into closer co-operation, giving questions for consideration to enable this process to advance.
AMICUM is recommending that the World Methodist Council and the Anglican Consultative Council establish an Anglican-Methodist International Coordinating Committee to oversee and foster relationships between Methodist and Anglican member churches.
The Report will be published during 2014.
The Commission is grateful for the warm hospitality given by the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, at the Parish of St John’s Ocho Rios, by the United Theological College, where the Commission worshiped, and by Bishop Howard Gregory. At this meeting AMICUM met the President of the Jamaica Methodist Church, the Rev Everard Galbraith, and the Rev Dr George Mulrain who gave a lecture on Anglican and Methodist relationships in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Present at the meeting were,
The Revd Professor Emeritus Robert Gribben (Uniting Church in Australia) (Co-Chair)
Dr Elizabeth Amoah (Methodist Church, Ghana)
The Revd Dr Wong Tik Wah (Methodist Church in Malaysia)
The Revd Professor Sarah Lancaster (The United Methodist Church)
The Revd Gareth Powell (The Methodist Church) (Co-Secretary)
AnglicansThe Rt Revd Harold Miller (The Church of Ireland) (Co-Chair)
The Revd Canon Professor Paul Avis (The Church of England)
The Revd Garth Minott (The Church in the Province of the West Indies)
The Rt Revd Dr P Surya Prakash (The Church of South India)

Lutheran World Federation Observer
The Rt Revd Walter Jagucki (Great Britain)

The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Co-Secretary) (Anglican Communion Office)
Mr Neil Vigers (Anglican Communion Office)
- See more at: http://www.aco.org/acns/news.cfm/2013/3/1/ACNS5331#sthash.6uKebMXU.dpuf