Anglican Insights with Os Guinness

As part of a series called “Anglican Insights” orchestrated by the ADV, Os Guinness spoke in TFC’s Historic Church last Tuesday evening. Arriving a bit late, I sat in the back row, thinking this strategic – I could leave early if it got too boring without incurring any disapproving looks. But the lecture was far from boring. Guinness had a way of addressing some tough issues head on without raising the defenses of his listeners. An author and a social critic, Guinness made it clear that there are dire issues facing the Western Church as we know it, but he did so without raising accusations or pointing fingers. In his opening remarks, he stated that the real problem facing the Church is not secularism or militant Islam, the problem is the Church. Guinness went on to issue seven challenges to his listeners in order to combat further crumbling of the Church:

  • Appreciate our Anglican heritage with realism. The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a rediscovery of the Gospel, renewed the emphasis placed on Scripture, and allowed for the laity to participate in communal worship. Indeed, the Reformation was one of the leading contributors to the rise of the modern world. But, Guinness gently reminded us, history is never simple. The Reformation had many sins of its own: iconoclasm destroyed many great works of art. Even with the new emphasis on the Gospel, Protestants were continually outshone by Catholics in terms of mission: the Jesuits had mission hubs in Asia and Latin America by the close of the sixteenth century. Political entanglements also pervaded the work of Reformers: as Anglicans, we certainly know this to be true. Reflecting realistically on our past will help us face the future.
  • Face up to the cultural transformations of our age. There is no denial that there has been a shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, which has certainly made our globe seem much smaller. There has also been a shift from Singular Modernity to Multiple Modernity, a concept which may be a bit more difficult for us, as Americans, to accept: Modernization no longer equals Westernization. This is especially evident in the recent events concerning the Anglican Church during which the Church of Nigeria came to the rescue of orthodox believers in North America.
  • Be prepared for a war of spirits. Immanuel Kant predicted that rationalism would necessarily lead to “perpetual peace.” We need to look no further than our daily news outlet to see that this has not been the case, nor does the trend seem to be headed in that direction. Existing in the same societies are completely different world views with completely different values, accounting for the culture class. Culture wars are fueled by holy wars, whether between religions or between denominations. The war of spirits has also seeped into individual believers. The acid of pluralistic relativism is eating away at the orthodox beliefs of individuals. (52% of American Christians believe that Jesus is not the only Way.)
  • Keep the challenge of secularism in perspective. Secularists seem to have a lot going for them: they are often among the educated elite, they seem to have a lot of fuel against any religious worldview. But, Guinness reminds us, all their great ideas are baseless. Secularists, and Atheists in particular, really have no grounds for morality. (In one of Richard Dawkins’ books, he expresses a sort of moral outrage at the idea of boiling a lobster alive. I wonder whether he is able to defend his averseness from an evolutionary standpoint.) Guinness also characterizes secularists of having an extraordinary “tone-deafness”: they cannot pick up the music by which ordinary people live their lives, they are indifferent to the richness and mystery of life.
  • Keep the challenge of Islam in perspective. The Islamic passion for justice, as well as its great moments in science and scholarship are admirable. But Islam is increasingly becoming de-territorialized and de-confessionalized. In short, it is beginning to face the problems of modernization. We need look no farther than the current conflict in France over the burqa to see this. No matter which side of the matter you take, it is obvious Islam is having to face modernity head on.
  • Face up to the lethal distortions of faith in the modern world. Guinness states: “The modern world has done more destruction to faith than all the persecutors of Christianity combined.” He cites three factors: a shift from integrated to fragmented faith; a shift from authority to preference; and a shift from exclusivity to syncretism. The shift from integrated to fragmented faith is obvious in our lifestyles: where we work and live and worship are no longer within the same spheres. I can’t walk to work,  nor can I walk to church. The demographics in my neighborhood are much different than those in the neighborhood where Restoration is located, and these different spheres have different world views. The shift from authority to preference is illustrated in there being no cohesion between belief and behavior. (Evangelical behavior certainly, more often than not, does not reflect belief.) The shift from exclusivity to syncretism is a reflection of modern consumerism: take what you like, leave what you don’t. Consumerism has pervaded even our worship.
  • Pray and work for Reformation revolution in modern times. Bizarre things are happening in this country in the name of Christ (the Michigan “Christian” militia group comes to mind). We, as Christians, need to hold the distortions of Christian doctrine in the same contempt Luther held Tetzel’s indulgences. Remembering that the Church has a doctrine of its own failure, we continue to have hope that the Church can be awakened. Our faith should be such that it survives the teeth of modernity and continues to influence culture.

In short, Guinness challenges us to analyze the modern world to understand the difficulties it presents to Christian living. The Church may have been temporarily crippled by modernity; indeed, it seems to have gone terribly astray, but we have theology and history to give us hope. So we continue to live and work for the building of the kingdom, knowing that we need not fear, for He who is greater than the world is within us.

Holy Week Offerings

During Holy Week, all the offerings we collected were given to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF). The total that came in that week, including Easter was close to $11,000!!  We gave it all away.

ARDF is an organization committed to an holistic, high impact community development approach that crosses cultural and economic boundaries in some of the most challenging parts of the world. They work directly with Anglican churches in the Global South to ensure that believers are strengthened and encouraged, lives are rescued and made whole, and Christ is glorified.

Currently, some of ARDF’s projects include training healthcare workers in Kenya to prevent the spread of Malaria, training locals in Sudan in new agricultural techniques to help them move toward self-sufficient farming, and providing relief for earthquake victims in Chile. 

Thanks, Restoration, for giving so generously to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

recap of Bob Duncan’s talk on Saturday

This past Saturday, Bob Duncan, the leader of our continent-wide Anglican community (called The Anglican Church in North America [ACNA]), gave a talk answering the question, ‘What is Anglicanism?’ Specifically what has Anglicanism meant to him and what is the future for Anglicanism in North America (as far as he can see it…) Our own Christine Jones was there and wrote a great summary of his talk. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. I’d be thrilled to dialogue with you about how I am seeing the future of Anglicanism…

Thanks Christine!

I went to hear Archbishop Duncan speak and I thought you might be interested in some of his main points. So many of you are leaders (and future leaders) at Restoration and as we move forward together it is encouraging to remember that we are always a part of something much larger that God is doing.

Caveat – if you were there and heard something in contradiction to what I noted (or omitted), please share. Odds are I misinterpreted something!

The archbishop spent a lot of time talking about the Anglican 1000 Movement, a vision to plant 1,000 Anglican churches in the next five years. (Hey! That’s us!) Much of what I note here is in relation to this theme. He also talked about how awesome it has been to see such growth out of a time of struggle and division. Churches who left the Episcopal Church have been losing their property and “stuff” yet gaining members and so much more. We at Restoration are just a small part of this bigger divine plan as we grow beyond the walls of TBC! (Personally, I think that’s a really important perspective to maintain.)

In order for the Anglican church to grow, we need to capture young people. Congregations are the main unit of the Anglican Church and the body doing the “capturing.” He gave examples of how he is seeing this. At one meeting in a small “unimportant” town, he learned of no less than 7 youngsters desiring to plant churches. [OK, I thought this was ironic as from my vantage point most of the audience was considerably middle aged and older!]

What is essential for Anglican church plants? They are to be accountable to 4 things: Scripture, Tradition, Holy Spirit, and Social Transformation.

  • On Tradition – we submit to this as a means of interpreting scripture. God doesn’t change over time and our traditions help hold us accountable.
  • On social transformation – we are not to retreat from society, but are to make a difference in our communities. We are equally accountable to this as to the other three!

Basically, we believe that Anglicanism is not the only way to be a Christian but it is reliable one. It is also a gentle one. We meet folks where they are and take them to where God wants them to be. We love people in their messiness! People need to be loved first, then drawn to REAL love in Christ. Anglicanism is a useful way to Christ, not an essential way and we know this.

What is our method? Three things: converted individuals, multiplying congregations, and adult converts. One clear measure of how we are growing is to measure adult baptisms (as opposed to gaining members from other denominations and just “shifting Christians around.”)

How are we distinctive? First, we know we are LOVED and that we’ve been transformed. With this, we have the proper motivation to reach and ask God to transform others. We also know we are called to be holy (which can be rather counter cultural these days!). We love the scriptures. We are devoted to tradition. We are in constant prayer. We are devoted to strong marriages & families. We are willing to make sacrifices for others. To sum it up – we are an “ancient-future” movement of the 21st C church that is attracting a new, rising generation of leaders.

What are the challenges? There is a lot of unhealed “stuff” including baggage from the split with the Episcopal Church. We need to be careful not to operate out of our own wounds. We need workers for this great harvest of new parishes. Finally, spiritual warfare – the enemy is not happy with this reliable, gentle church!

One great challenge, especially for those of us coming out of the 20th C church is that the game has changed! Previously we assumed we were surrounded by other christians (e.g. the nature of the “Christian Nation” and all that). Now we are in a missionary age and this can be a startling reality. This informs our methods, spending (at the denominational level), etc. Stay tuned as many of these issues get hammered out.

One topic you might be interested in – the question was raised about women’s ordination in the Anglican Church. The archbishop mentioned that Anglicanism is divided on this both domestically and abroad. We cannot have it both ways and the leadership will need to find our way through this issue. They ARE willing to work hard to figure this out – and do so by listening to God and not aiming for political solutions.

Quick Vid about Confirmation

One of my best friends is the Rector of Christ Church Austin, TX.  They are getting ready to have confirmations too!  Here is a little video he did with his bishop, Phil Jones.  Ignore all the stuff about classes, dates, and locations–  unless you are moving to ATX.  But listen to Bishop Jones talk about what confirmation is.  Hope it inspires you to be confirmed at Restoration on February 28.

Strengthen, Empower, Sustain: Confirmation

Our bishop, David Bena, will be visiting Restoration in a couple of weeks, on February 28th. One of the things he’ll do while he’s here is confirmations. Basically, confirmation is a chance for you to publicly profess for your faith in Jesus Christ and to express your desire to live out that faith corporately in the Anglican church. Bishop Bena will also pray individually for you to be strengthened in the Holy Spirit, empowered for God’s service, and sustained by God’s power. From my own experience of being confirmed a couple of years ago, it’s both a simple and a really powerful experience.

Want to know more? Check out these two blog posts on confirmation from last spring:

If you’re interested in being confirmed on the 28th — or if you have any questions about it — please let me know no later than Wednesday, February 11th. You can email me directly or reach me through the contact form.

Wondering what a bishop is in the first place? Check out this great piece that David wrote about our Anglican church structure. (More interesting than it sounds, I promise!)

One final important point: you don’t have to be confirmed to be a member of Restoration. What’s involved in membership? That’s another story

Baptisms at Restoration on Sunday

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We will celebrate the sacrament of Holy Baptism on Sunday. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace.

Jesus commanded baptism with water as the outward sign of our Lord’s gracious promises of new birth, forgiveness, and adoption into the family of God. It also marks a person’s decision to become a follower of Christ and a vital member of His church.

At Restoration, we baptize both adults and children. And this Sunday we will get to do both!! When we baptize adults, as in many New Testament accounts, we are celebrating their choice to follow Jesus. When we baptize infants (also alluded to in New Testament accounts such as Acts 16:30-33 and seen regularly in the early church) we are celebrating in anticipation of their future commitment to Christ.

We only baptize the children of Christian parents because those parents are taking vows on behalf of the children.  They are promising to raise their kids in the church and to teach them to trust in Jesus as their forgiver and leader so that when they are old enough, the child can confirm the vows that were taken on his/her behalf.

My dear mentor, John Yates put it well,

The baptism of infants signifies the first step on the path towards their turning to God in faith and repentance, which we pray will come later.  Our prayer is that as children grow, they will come to embrace Jesus Christ, who first embraces them. They are marked with the sign of the cross as belonging to Christ from the beginning.  We pray that the Holy Spirit will draw these little ones to the Lord in an ever more dynamic relationship in the years to come.  For those children who receive baptism rightly, there may come either a moment of dramatic conversion or a quiet series of small steps that lead eventually to mature faith and discipleship…

So join us on Sunday as we welcome Cadence, Madelyne, Aileen, Charlie, and Abby into the household of God and call them to confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim His resurrection, and share with us in His eternal priesthood.

Thanks be to God.

Vatican and Anglicans

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I love our church.  I got lots of emails and questions this week about the impact of the Pope’s offer to Anglicans on our little church in Arlington.  I love that Restoration people are thoughtful, well-informed, and curious.  These are interesting days to be following Jesus and committed to a local church.

Lots of news outlets reported on it, here are 2 helpful articles:

New York Times Article

Wall Street Journal Article

Bottom line for us, we will not be ‘going back to Rome’.  I have deep respect for the Catholic church and for the ways they have revered and contended for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  But in the quotable words of our great bishop, Martyn Minns, “I don’t want to be a Roman Catholic…  There was a Reformation, you remember.”

Bishop Minns also said, ““It demonstrates his (the Pope’s) conviction that the divisions in the Anglican Communion are very serious and these are not things that are going to get papered over,”

The worldwide Anglican Communion is currently very divided by issues of Biblical authority, Trinitarian Theology, and sexual ethics.  The Catholic church has generously offered a harbor for orthodox Anglicans who want to embrace the Pope’s authority and leave the morass of Anglican conflict.

Restoration will not be taking the Pope’s kind offer.  In the division and conflicts, we hold unflinchingly to the inerrancy of Scripture– its complete trustworthiness and authority for every area of our life.  As a community, we will continue to wrestle with how we live in faithfulness to it.  I long for the day when Jesus comes back and restores all things–  including the unity of his church.  Until that day, we will wait expectantly and we will work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God (2 Cor 5:11)

Here is the official CANA statement

CANA: Vatican Move Recognizes Reality of Anglican Divide

Bishop Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), issued the following response to the newly approved church provision, announced by the Vatican this week, that allows Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.

“The Vatican is opening a door for Anglicans who sense a call to be part of the Church of Rome to join that body and still maintain Anglican traditions. This move by the Catholic Church recognizes the reality of the divide within the Anglican Communion and affirms the decision to create a new North American province that embraces biblical truth. While we welcome the positive response from the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the Vatican’s provision, we urge Lambeth Palace to move swiftly to fully endorse the efforts of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Anglican Church in North America to keep the Anglican family together,” said Bishop Minns.

“Rome is reminding Anglicans that our historic, orthodox faith is more important than culture and more important than geography. CANA itself bears witness to the fact that God’s church is made up of believers across the globe. The centrality of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture are the unwavering bonds that have drawn CANA churches and others within the Anglican Church in North America together. Our continued prayer is for Anglicans across the world to be able to stay faithful to orthodox beliefs,” Minns concluded.

The church provision, known as an Apostolic Constitution, allowing Anglicans to join the Catholic Church was announced by Cardinal William Levada. An Apostolic Constitution is the highest level of decree that the Pope can issue and underscores the historic nature of this action.

A Giant Falls

The bankruptcy of General Motors: A giant falls | The Economist.

I am struck by how similar the prosperity and ‘golden age’ of American Car Manufacturers and American Mainline Protestant Denominations coincided.  In the 1950s everyone drove their Buick to the local United Methodist Church (my Grandpa Hanke being the posterboy for this).

That time is over.

For both.

The article gives some great history and some reasons for the collapse of GM in particular.

In my world, I am curious about now–  60 years later.  American cars are pretty much dead.  Mainline denominations are pretty much on life support (not being pejorative, just looking at the numbers).  But there are still strong American companies that dominate–  Apple, google, movies based on Stan Lee comic book characters…  What have they done to build a brand, to meet people where they are at, to give them what they want?

What is the corresponding church of 2010?  Restoration is a young church with an old soul.  We speak lots of words during our service.  We compel people into smaller communities during the week.  We love ancient liturgy and nights of Wii.

The Gospel hasn’t changed.  We believe that it is the only means to true life here and everlasting life there.  What’s a church look like now?

Reducing our Footprint… maybe… for a little while

picture-14When you show up at Restoration on Sunday, you’ll notice the worship guide looks different.  (By the way, I really like ‘worship guide’ as the descriptor of the thing we hand you at the door…  rather than ‘bulletin’ [not really true] or ‘leaflet’ [bit too generic])  As people become more familiar with our service, we are trying to conserve a little paper.  But predominantly, we want you to pick up those beautiful black books with the cross on the front–  The Book of Common Prayer.  It has a wealth of information and guidance for our liturgical (worship) life together.  If you flip to page 355, you’ll see the beginning of our worship service–  the same beginning we put in our worship guide. We are hoping that this new, streamlined worship guide will be like a compass.  It will point you to the different places in the BCP from where we take our liturgy.

Over the summer, I’ll invite you at the start of the service to open your BCP and to follow along with the service.   We will also put the prayers and responses that used to be printed in the worship guide on the screen in the front.  So you can choose between looking down at the book or looking up at the screens.  (different people like different things…)

Our hope is that we are a little kinder to the environment and that we get you flipping through our rich heritage of prayers and liturgy.  Maybe you’ll get one and try the morning prayer (p. 137) devotions this summer.  Or perhaps you’ll choose a few of the evening prayers (p.121) with the folks in your household.  Or it’s possible that the prayers and thanksgivings(p. 810) will shape your conversations with God for the next 30 years…

If you have a BCP, bring it with you on Sunday!  Let us know what you think of the new WG format and how we can serve you as we seek to do ‘the work of the people’.

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