Back to the Future

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This coming year we in the Diocese of Dallas will be cooperating with an evangelical, para-church group, ReviveTexas to help in an evangelistic effort this winter and spring. Well, we're all for spreading the Gospel, but why join forces with such a group? To answer this question, I want to turn back to look at several chapters of our own Episcopal/Anglican history.

First of all, what does it mean to say 'evangelical'? It refers to 'the gospel'; at one level this simply points to all Christians! But it also points to the reformation tradition and its emphasis on the priority of the gospel. Since the Reformation is a root of Anglican tradition, it pertains to all of us. More specifically it points to the spiritual movement of the late 18th and early 19th century which emphasized personal conversion, attention to the Scriptures, and evangelism. Especially through the ministry of John Wesley this stream of piety owes much to Anglicanism for its origins.

There is more to say. In the 19th century, religious societies were crucial in the propagation of the Gospel, and the vast newer Anglican global churches are their fruit. Furthermore those Anglican missionaries were adamantly ecumenical. Take for example that great instrument of the evangelization of India, the YMCA, which included a great Anglican (future bishop) like Samuel Azariah working side-by-side with workers from many denominations. That, in some measure, is Anglicanism! 

My point is simply this - in light of the history, a group like ReviveTexas 'R' us. I hope you'll join in.

Peace

+GRS

Following Where the Words Go

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Questions about the afterlife are back (our own NT Wright notwithstanding)!  Magazines explore post-death experiences. Protestant theologians wonder if purgatory is a useful thought (the 39 articles notwithstanding)!  Genocide makes the doctrine of hell more urgent.

Behind these varied thoughts, we can discern truths at one and the same time. The victory of Christ provides ‘a sacrifice... For the sins of the whole world.’  Our lives have eternal consequences. How can these be true together at one and the same time?

On the book-report front, I've been reading Maurice's On eternal life and eternal death.  I have been thinking about the theme in his thought with a strong Johannine streak. I would call it an ‘inherent’ emphasis. Here is what I mean by this:  the one who rejects Christ in that judges himself or herself. To confess Christ is eternal life, since by grace we are joined to the one who is life. These are not subsequent rewards or punishments.  

We can add to this more inherently truths. God has access to past, present, and future. His eternity is precisely His immediacy to them all and their abiding reality in His mind (to risk an analogy). Above all things, and at the end of all things, what is most real is God in Christ at the center of all things, and those who rejoice to behold His appearing are there saved. We can also find use in what was called the ‘privative’ theory, that hatred of God, choosing isolation from life, in a real sense isn't.  

Of course mysteries envelop all we are imagining. To God not only does all creation have an in-going reality, but it is transformed!  A new kind of life springs forth, and is not static, but with a finality and perfection.  The corruptible is still real, our pasts not erased, but now ‘puts on incorruption.’  When Christ the real Heart of all things is made transparent, they are changed, as if restored from the dead.

The purpose of such squinting into a glass darkly is to take our faith seriously as the most real part of our life, and to engender in us hope.

Peace

+GRS

 

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