Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Book of Common Prayer

I recently posted the following video on my Facebook profile page.  It comes from St. Peter's Anglican Church in Evans, Georgia.  Their descriptor reads, "The Anglican Book of Common Prayer that guides our worship and forms our belief."

This, too, is our heritage as Wesleyan Christians.  We are reminded that John Wesley gave to us a conservative version of the Book of Common Prayer to guide our worship and form our beliefs, as well.  He called it "The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America." 

For those Wesleyan/Methodist Christians who are unfamiliar with our Prayer Book heritage, I comment "The Sunday Service" to you.  -  May God truly shape our faith and life.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Sacramental Nature of Baptism As Seen In Song

This evening, during Evening Prayer, I finished singing through Wesley Hymns (edited by Ken Bible) . . . at least for this go around!  -  The last hymn in the book expresses the sacramental nature of baptism, nicely.  This is a good reminder for Wesleyan Christians (especially Evangelical ones) that we differ from many "Evangelical Christians" at this point.  Instead, we stand in line with our Methodist and Anglican forefathers, back to the Ancient and New Testament Church.

Many of our Evangelical sisters and brothers (e.g., Baptists), view holy baptism (and holy communion) as a mere ordinance.  (I say mere, because ordinances they surely are.  Even the hymn uses that term.  However, they are not merely so.)  As a mere ordinance, our sisters and brothers of this tradition view baptism as something that, while commanded by Christ, is exclusively understood to be a testimony by the one being baptized concerning what Christ has done in his/her life by faith.

We Wesleyans would affirm that, when a convert is being baptized, s/he is, indeed, testifying to what Christ has done in her/his life by faith . . . but we believe that this testimony is secondary.  Along with our forefathers in the faith, we believe that holy baptism is primarily God's work.  That is to say, we believe that baptism is not just an ordinance.  It is also a sacrament.  Whether the one being baptized is an infant or an adult convert, when we come to the waters of baptism with faith in Christ, God is present and at work.  Further, as the hymn makes clear, we believe that the whole of the Holy Trinity is at work in this sacrament.

To be sure, it is not an "automatic thing" simply because we go through the outward motions of a ritual.  Nevertheless, God's promised presence is granted to those who come with faith in Him.

Charles Wesley expresses this sacramental nature of baptism in this hymn:

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

1. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
In solemn pow'r come down!
Present with Thy heav'nly host,
Thine ordinance to crown,
See a sinful soul of earth!
Bless to him the cleansing flood!
Plunge him, by a second birth,
Into the depths of God.

2. Let the promised inward grace
Accompany the sign;
On this newborn soul impress
The character divine!
Father, all Thy name reveal;
Jesus, all Thy name impart;
Holy Ghost, renew and dwell
Forever in his heart!
(Charles Wesley)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

N.T. Wright : Husband and Wife - A Signpost for Heaven & Earth and God's Creation

The following is a video of N.T. Wright addressing the Humanum Colliquium.  I found it posted on my friend, Fr. James Gibson's blog, Locust and Wild Honey.  If it were not for his post, I couldn't have copied it, here!

I found +Wright's video to be well worth watching.  I hope you do, as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Phineas F. Bresee

(I originally wrote the following piece for "For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations Second Edition," edited by Heather Josselyn-Cranson, OSL 2013.  )

Phineas Franklin Bresee was born to Phineas and Susan Brown Bresee in Franklin, NY, December 31, 1838.  At 16, Bresee experience 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.[1]

In 1867, in Chariton Iowa, Bresee “entered into the blessing of entire sanctification.”[2]  Bresee had struggled 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.”[3]  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[4] and, after 1883, Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA.  He was appointed presiding elder in West Des Moines (1864)[5] and in Los Angeles.[6]  Further, Bresee served as a delegate to multiple General Conferences.[7]

Education was important to Bresee, as was seen by his serving on the board of Simpson College[8] and the University of Southern California.[9]  Later, Bresee became the president of Pacific Bible College (now Point Loma Nazarene University).[10]

 By the mid-1890’s, Breese’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 first miracle after the baptism with the Holy Ghost was upon a beggar, and so, Bresee reasoned, the priority of a Holy Ghost-baptized church ought to be the poor.[11]  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.[12]

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.”[13]  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.[14]

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.

[1] Ingersol, Stan. Nazarene Roots: Pastors, Prophets, Revivalists & Reformers. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City. 2009. p. 87-88.
[2] 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.
[3] Girvin, E.A. Phineas F. Bresee: A Prince in Israel. Kansas City, MO. Nazarene Publishing House. 1916. p. 50-52.
[4] Ingersol. p. 88.
[5] Kostlevy, William C., Ed. Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement. Lanham, Maryland, and London. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 28-29.
[6] Bangs. p. 286.
[7] Ingersol. p. 88-89.
[8] Ibid. p. 88.
[9] Kostlevy. p. 29.
[10] Ingersol. p. 91.
[11] Ibid. p. 88-89.
[12] Kostlevy. p. 29.
[13] Bangs. p. 195-196.
[14] Kostlevy. p. 29.

One Desire

We live in a world in which we hear from certain supposed "Christian leaders" that God's greatest desire is to bless us with financial success.  This supposed "gospel message" is broadcast via TV, radio and the internet, and is found in print in best selling "Christian" books.  These "Christian leaders" encourage Christians to pursue such "blessings" in the name of Jesus; a pursuit, it must be pointed out, that is no different in kind than the pursuit of secular minded non-Christians throughout the world . . . save that it is done "in Jesus' name."

As readers of this blog know, it is my custom to (usually) include some hymns while praying the office of Morning Prayer.  Currently, I am singing from Wesley Hymns, compiled by Ken Bible (Lillenas Publishing).  Today's hymn, along with the passage quoted below the hymn, provide a wonderful corrective to the popular message described, above.  The hymn, of course, is a (very short) hymn by Charles Wesley, and the quote following the hymn comes from John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.

May the words of this hymn and John Wesley's words be true for me and for the whole Church!

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.
"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."

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose

The following Wesley hymn was one of the hymns I sang during Morning Prayer, today.  I thought that I should post it, here.  May God bless you through it!

Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose

1. Thou hidden Source of calm repose,
Thou all-sufficient love divine;
My help and refuge from my foes,
Secure I am, if Thou art mine.
And lo! from sin and grief and shame
I hide me, Jesus, in Thy name.
2. Thy mighty name salvation is,
And keeps my happy soul above;
Comfort it brings, and power and peace,
And joy and everlasting love.
To me, with Thy dear name, are giv'n
Pardon and holiness and heav'n.
3. Jesus, my all-in-all Thou art;
My rest in toil, my ease in pain,
The healing of my broken heart;
In war my peace, in loss my gain,
My smile beneath the tyrant's frown;
In shame my glory and my crown.
4. In want my plentiful supply,
In weakness my almighty power,
In bonds my perfect liberty,
My light in Satan's darkest hour;
In grief my joy unspeakable,
My life in death, my heav'n in hell.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Hymn for All Saints

Come, Let Us Join Our Friends Above

1.  Come, let us join our friends above
Who have obtained the prize,
And on the eagle wings of love
To joys celestial rise.
Let saints on earth unite to sing
With those to glory gone;
For all the servants of our King,
In earth and heav'n, are one.
2.  One family we dwell in Him,
One Church above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
One army of the living God,
To His command we bow;
Part of His host have crossed the flood
And part are crossing now.
3.  Ten thousand to their endless home
This solemn moment fly;
And we are to the margin come,
And we expect to die.
E'en now by faith we join our hands
With those who went before,
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
On the eternal shore.
4.  Our spirits, too, shall quickly join,
Like theirs with glory crowned,
And shout to see our Captain's sign,
To hear His trumpet sound.
Jesus, be Thou our constant Guide;
Then, when the word is giv'n,
Bid Jordan's narrow stream divide
And bring us safe to heav'n.
(Charles Wesley)