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Intellectual Trends that Brought ECUSA to this Place
Drell's Descants ^ | 4/26/2005 | The Rev. Alice C. Linsley

Posted on 04/27/2005 8:16:28 PM PDT by sionnsar

Excerpt from sermon preached by the Rev. Alice C. Linsley for the Louisville Chapter of the American Anglican Council on June 29th, 2004 – The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

In the collect appointed for this day, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, we read these words: Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, One God for ever and ever.

This collect from the 1979 Book is based on the Roman Catholic common of Saints. It is helpful to compare it to the collects found in earlier Books of Common Prayer. For example, the original collect for St. Peter’s Day reads:

Almighty God, which by thy Son Jesus Christ has given to thy Apostle saint Peter many excellent gifts and commanded him earnestly to feed thy flock; make we beseech thee all bishops and pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word and the people obediently to follow the same, that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The original collect commemorating the Conversion of St. Paul reads:

O God, who through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, has caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: grant, we beseech thee, that we having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

These two collects appear in every Book of Common Prayer except the 1979 Book. They express the church’s thankfulness for the witness of Peter and Paul by acknowledging each man’s individual contribution. Peter obeyed the command to feed Christ’s flock through the preaching of the Gospel. St. Paul planted churches throughout the ancient world and we give thanks for his preaching by which God “has caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world.”

The Standing Liturgical Commission that produced the 1979 Prayer Book omitted both the collects just read. It did not matter to the Commission that these collects are found in every Book of Common Prayer since 1549. The Commission was not concerned about preserving the Anglican tradition of common prayer. It sought to produce something new in structure, doctrine and theology. The implications of this tearing of the fabric of our common prayer are far reaching. As Kendall Harmon stated at the recent AAC gathering in Michigan: “The full theological measure of its ethos has yet to be completely felt, but we are now at a place with enough distance from the 1979 Prayer Book to begin to reflect. The conclusions are deeply unsettling and disturbing.”

Anglicans are heirs to a long and rich tradition known as “common prayer” going back to 1549. That precious heritage has been respected and preserved in all revisions of the Book until the 1979 revision. The first revision took place in 1552, and another in 1662. The first American Book of Common Prayer was produced in 1789 and is fully within the tradition, as is the 1928 revision. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is used in parishes that have consistently refused to worship according to the 1979 Prayer Book. These parishes, and especially their clergy, have been systematically marginalized by the leadership of ECUSA and portrayed as intolerant reactionaries.

The collects for Saints Peter and Paul appear unchanged in the 1552, 1662, 1789, 1890 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer but were omitted from the 1979 Prayer Book. About 23 other collects were omitted or altered to change their significance. The 1979 collect for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul fails to mention the specific contributions of these Apostles. Instead, the collect stresses their martyrdoms. The new collect lumps Peter and Paul together in a way that generalizes their enormous individual contributions, and it has us remembering them as dead guys rather than as productive evangelists and obedient pillars of the Church.

Take note of this tactic and be forewarned. This is how the revisionist leadership of the Episcopal Church dismisses orthodox people. We are lumped under belittling labels and insulted, our contributions are overlooked or generalized, and we are regarded as having as much relevance as dead people. This is what we can expect from unregenerate leaders of the Episcopal Church. They welcome unrepentant sinners, but they do not welcome sinners who cling to the mercy of the Cross and defend biblical truth.

So how did this great divide come to exist in the Episcopal Church?

Again the 1979 Prayer Book is instructive. It represents ECUSA’s slide into “enlightened religion” and it contributes to the apostasy of the Episcopal Church by ignoring the absolute necessity of regeneration as the mark of the Christian. Jesus told Nicodemus: “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he be born again.” Nicodemus didn’t get it although he was a well-respected religious leader. Likewise the unregenerate leadership of ECUSA doesn’t get it. They pray revisionist prayers and proclaim a revisionist view of Jesus Christ. They do not know or believe the Bible. In answer to the question: “Do you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God?” Bishop Stacy Sauls replied: “I believe the Bible is a book of poetry with a lot of history in it. I believe the Prayer Book has all that is needed for salvation.”

Of course Bishop Sauls is speaking of the 1979 Prayer Book that presents Jesus Christ as he is understood by human reason, unenlightened by the Holy Spirit. Bishop Sauls and many others in the Episcopal Church, accept the compromise between rationalistic liberal theology and a true confession of Christianity. They do not understand that these cannot be reconciled. This is not simply an issue of old versus new, or the difficulty of blending tradition and modernism. At issue is the preservation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it was once delivered and is continually implanted in the hearts of regenerate persons. A supernaturally born again person cannot compromise what he or she knows has happened by the Holy Spirit. Those who know Jesus can’t settle for the anemic semi-deity presented to us in the 1979 Prayer Book. Jesus explained this to Nicodemus, saying: “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” (John 3:11)

The Bible teaches that salvation involves regeneration of the whole person by the Holy Spirit through faith in the revealed Son of God, Jesus Christ. Our regeneration is a mysterious gift made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is replete with references to this supernatural work of God so it is amazing that the Standing Liturgical Commission comprised of bible scholars, liturgists, theologians and bishops could have missed its central importance! Isn’t it likely that they were not making decisions under the mediation of the indwelling Holy Spirit?

The problem of unregenerate religious leaders is not a new one. Thirty years after Jesus’ resurrection, the Apostle Paul prayed that he might be “rescued” from unbelieving religious people (Romans 15:31). In a sermon preached in 1741, the Reverend Gilbert Tennent, warned his flock about the corrosive effect of unregenerate clergy. Here is a portion of his sermon:

“Such who are contented under a dead Ministry, have not in them the Temper of that Saviour they profess. It’s an awful Sign, that they are as blind as Moles and as dead as Stones, without any spiritual Taste and Relish. And alas! Isn’t this the case of Multitudes? Poor silly souls consider seriously these passages of the prophet, Jeremiah 5:30-31… And let those who live under Ministry of dead Men, whether they have got the Form of Religion or not, repair to the Living, where they may be edified.”

At the heart of the issue is what some call “glory theology” versus “Cross theology.” The revisionist Prayer Book rushes to glory language without first passing through the cross. It tends to the immediate gratification so characteristic of contemporary society. However, as Christians we are called to walk in the way of the cross, following our Savior who “went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified.” (Collect for Monday in Holy Week) It is natural to want to pray prayers and sing hymns that make us feel good, but we will never be good until we are made righteous through the cross. Further, we must be prepared to endure rejection, betrayal and abandonment for the joy that is set before us.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw a rise in Rationalism. Intellectuals wrote essays and books seeking to prove the truth of Christianity using reason. Others wrote to disprove the truth of Christianity, also using reason. There were solid arguments on both sides. It became clear that the Christian Faith is not proved or disproved by the use of reason. After all, how does one reason to an understanding of the Trinity?

In the 19th and 20th centuries the argument of reason shifted to positivism. Positivism insists that the rational individual should accept as truth only what is verifiable by the methods of science. Since the Trinity cannot be studied by scientific methods, it would be meaningless to address it. Positivism effectively cut off discussion of theological topics while it accused “fundamentalists” of being unreasonable critics of science.

The father of Positivism was the Frenchman Auguste Comte (1798-1857). He wanted to apply scientific principles to the study of society and believed that the sciences should serve to improve mankind. Comte claimed that humanity has evolved through three stages. Primitive man was superstitious. Next, man reached the stage of metaphysical speculation, providing better, though still inadequate, explanations. Finally, man has reached the “positive” stage where he is able to verify claims of knowledge through science, and no longer needs to rely on superstition or speculation. Comte’s ideas took on the authority of religion for many intellectuals and churchmen of the 19th century.

Comte’s influence was very profound on Sigmund Freud, one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. Freud’s theories about religion were thoroughly positivist. He described religion as “the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity” and “an attempt to get control over the sensory world in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us…” The combined effect of Comte and Freud was the belittling of orthodox Christians as evolutionary retards and religious neurotics. Karl Marx and others whose political agendas necessitated undermining the authority of the Church appropriated these ideas.


Existentialism owes much to the work of the widely read Danish Protestant, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard defended Christianity against the Idealist philosophers, especially Hegel. He was critical of the un-Christian character of the Danish churches. He stressed the absolute holiness of God and absolute sinfulness of humans. He maintained that true Christian faith is possible only as one abandons the role of spectator and reaches inner decisions about the ultimate issues and acts on those issues. His thought had a profound affect on Protestant theology in the 20th century, especially in the area of pastoral theology.

Existentialist pastoral theology relates pastoral care to the particular moment, event or issue. It works out compromises to address concerns of the here and now and to position the church to better address the social situation. Salvation comes as one reaches an existential decision and acts upon it. So Bishop Sauls, acting out of an existentialist theology, (as he explained to me last August) proposes same sex unions as a matter of pastoral care. He does not see that he is attacking God’s establishment of marriage by arguing that non-marital sexual relations are acceptable between partners of the same sex as long as they are monogamous, consensual, and committed. In contrast, Evangelical pastoral theology relates pastoral care to the abiding, transcendental and sacramental nature of the Church. It is therefore concerned with dogma and holiness, and it asserts that salvation comes through the preaching of God’s Word. Clearly the two approaches cannot be reconciled. They stand on opposite sides of a great divide in the Episcopal Church. We do well to ask on which side is Jesus Standing when he tells Nicodemus: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21)


What is termed “liberalism” is a cluster of ideas put forth by various 19th and 20th century theologians, philosophers and scholars. These ideas may be classified as follows:

a. Christianity is about following Jesus’ teachings on love.
b. Christianity is constantly being reshaped by the present.

c. The Kingdom of God involves transformation of society.
d. Egalitarianism and collectivism are biblical values.
e. The Bible is not unique, but one of many valuable sacred texts.
f. The “supernatural” is primitive man’s explanation.
g. The Bible can be understood by applying human reason.

Each of these ideas sounds good, but in reality each is a lie. Christianity isn’t about following Jesus’ teachings on love. Christianity that represents a true confession isn’t constantly reshaped by the present. The eternal kingdom of God involves regeneration for the transformation of our minds and hearts. Equality of all people and equal distribution of resources are not biblical values. These are utopian values. The Bible claims to be unique among religious texts and Jesus, among others, said that it is. The mark of a Christian is regeneration by the Holy Spirit and this is certainly a supernatural work. And finally, the Bible cannot be understood by human reason. It is the Holy Spirit that opens the Bible to us so that it is the Word of God. This is why Saul of Tarsus didn’t get the message of Jesus, but Paul the Apostle did. This is why the Thessalonians, having rejected the Gospel, persecuted Paul, but the noble Bereans, having studied the Scriptures day and night, recognized that Paul was telling them the truth.

The American theologian, H. Richard Niebuhr, ironically remarked about liberalism: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministration of a Christ without a cross.” Niebuhr is describing the eviscerated gospel proclaimed by the unregenerate. It offers nothing and is unworthy of our devotion.

The key idea in Liberalism is that experience and ethics have priority over doctrine and discipline. It is more important to love people and accommodate to their experiences and beliefs, than to speak biblical truth and uphold God’s will for our lives. And so in the 1979 Episcopal Church’s Teaching Series, The Christian Moral Vision we read: “Theologian Norman Pittenger maintains that homosexual genital sex can be a fully legitimate expression of interpersonal love that is an outgrowth of the love of God.” (p. 94) It does not matter that the Bible states that homosexual sex is sin as is any sex that is not sanctified by God in marriage.

We reject liberalism because the Bible is the standard against which we measure our lives and make decisions. Paul tells the believers in Rome, “For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4-5)

The Bible is our sword and our shield in these troubled times. Peter and Paul suffered and were killed because they believed and proclaimed the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. So we too must do our part. We must study the Bible with the same attitude as the noble Bereans and to the same end: that we may believe and be saved. When the Day of Judgment arrives the works of unregenerate people will be swept away, but the works of the faithful will stand. God has promised and His promises are certain.

We stand on God’s promises and we continue in the Apostles’ teaching. We will not be distracted from the Gospel ministry by social trends, philosophies, and innovations that tickle the ears. We will fix our eyes of Jesus, the author and finisher of our Faith. We will run the race with perseverance, straining to reach the finish line. We will cling to the Cross and proclaim its power to save. And God will have mercy upon us and give us grace through the Holy Spirit to know Jesus, to share in his mission, and to walk in the way that He would have us go. Amen.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: angpost6; ecusa

1 posted on 04/27/2005 8:16:33 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; GatorGirl; KateatRFM; Alkhin; Peanut Gallery; tellw; nanetteclaret; Saint Reagan; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 04/27/2005 8:17:03 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
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To: sionnsar

Thanks for posting this.

3 posted on 04/28/2005 5:33:59 AM PDT by kalee
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To: sionnsar

***by ignoring the absolute necessity of regeneration as the mark of the Christian.***


She got it.

4 posted on 04/28/2005 9:04:41 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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