6/03/2010

Getting the Pentecostal Fire going...in a theologically sound way.

Preludium is graced with strongly opinionated and sometimes polite commentary from readers. It would not be nearly as interesting without them.

In the blog entry just published reporting on the Presiding Bishop's pastoral letter, "Pentecost Continues," I remarked, "The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine, wrote a pastoral letter that was graceful, theologically sound and clear in its implications for the life of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."

One comment to that post by John 2007 stated,

"Theologically sound?" I just don't see why this is raised by you like some flag of honor. There just isn't enough theology going on to make a judgement. You agree with it. I get that. I think descriptively she spells out what people in her camp think . . .but really it is an argument about having the votes in TEC and, as ever, reliant upon vague and untested affirmations."



Well, here is why I said that it was a theologically sound letter. I didn't say it was a theological paper, but a theologically sound letter. The letter begins with an affirmation not too often heard in Anglican discussions these days. Bishop Katharine stated,


"Pentecost continues! Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit." Further, she says, "We believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding."

John 2007 may not think this much of a theological statement or particularly sound. Fine. But friends, this is a simple declarative statement of a theological understanding of Pentecost and it pervades much of what Anglicanism has been about since the notion of being Christians of an Anglican sort came into being.


The proposition is: "Pentecost is a continuing gift of the spirit, and the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding."

Another comment by Mercutio suggested, "Hypocrisy, thy name is Schori."Well we knew that hypocrisy was ever the watchword of the day. And here it is again.


Fr. Jeff directs us to an article by Diane Butler Bass saying, "For further reading and context I highly recommend: Rowan Williams and Katharine Jefferts Schori Anglican Smack Down. He is right, once again. So go read her article.


The thing is, in one way or another there is some heavy lifting going on here and a challenge to the top-down subsidiarity business that has plagued the Communion since the Virginia Report.

The conversation has turned from who should have or should not have done this or that and who makes the decisions for the Communion, and has become one having to do with the Pentecostal Fire.

This is what is known in the trade as a GOOD THING.


3 comments:

  1. Mark, I agree it's a theologically significant statement. Bishop Jefferts Schori believes, as do I (and probably you), that the gift of the Holy Spirit continues to live in us and inspire us.

    By contrast, the sola scriptura camp unfailingly refers to the "faith once and for all delivered to the saints," as if God's inpiration and the Holy Spirit's action ceased in the year 33 A.D.

    I suppose this "sola scripture" camp is attractive to some. God knows, the megachurches in that camp continue to grow ... as do some of the happy-clappy parishes in TEC. I suspect they receive some emotional comfort in that static worldview, when so much around us is changing.

    I, too, was grateful for Fr. Jeff's link to Diana Butler Bass's reflection, and I committed my own bloggery upon it.

    I agree, Mark, that this discussion is A Good Thing. Thanks for letting us chat about it here.

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  2. I fear we have degenerated into "them and us". "Them" have terrible theology, utterly lacking in ay substance while "us" are the most sound doctrinal warriors of the 21st century.

    Too bad, we used to make such sweet music together.

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  3. Where I emerged from, "Evangelical Land," theology meant literal interpretation of biblical passages supported with "cross-referencing." Yet, literal interpretation of inconvenient passages was treated with slight of hand ("Move along! Nothing to see here!). Whether they would like to admit it, or not, they have responded to the Spirit's leading toward an ever-expanding grace, since if they had not, the evangelical churches would look a whole lot different than they do, and in fact, wouldn't even exist.

    How much more exciting does a pursuit of theology become when seen as an endeavor to, given the trajectory of Pentecost, keep up with the Spirit. Ah! I've stumbled upon it! I see "theology" as discovering the trajectory!

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