Friday, November 14, 2003

Samuel Seabury, Fundamentalist. Today, November 14, 2003, is the commemoration of Samuel Seabury, the first Anglican Bishop in the U.S. Here is a good summary of his particular importance to the Episcopal Church.

Whoops, I goofed. As noted by many in the comments, I picked up the sermon from a later Samuel Seabury. (Hang around for awhile and I'll tell you about Martin Luther's famous "I have a dream" speech.)

I wonder how he would fare today?

Look at this sermon in which he examines a particular doctrine espoused by the Anglican Church, that our Lord's human nature "was, from the first moment of its existence, void of all spot or taint of sin."

Let us walk with Bishop Seabury to see how Doctrine is derived.

First, he tells us we believe this doctrine "because it has been delivered to us by the Church as a necessary article of the Christian faith." It traces back to "[t]he apostles, themselves, or at least their successors at a very early age of the Church..." and is " necessary to guard the original faith from the assaults and wiles of those who sought to deprave it by false and heretical teaching."

Is tradition alone, Rev. Seabury, sufficient grounding for Doctrine?
this prescription, which may plead apostolic tradition in its favor; this teaching of our common mother, which ought in reason to have far more weight with us than the wisest of human parents, is a sufficient ground for our belief in the doctrine, at least in the first instance, and until we shall be qualified to try our faith by the ultimate standard of Holy Scripture.
(emphasis added).

How should we proceed? proceed, as in an humble and reverential spirit you properly may, to compare the teaching of the Church with the infallible dictates of Holy Scripture...

Bishop Seabury continues: "Human testimony is the ground of human faith, or that which we exercise in the common affairs of life. Divine testimony is the ground of divine faith, or that which is required of us in order to our everlasting salvation."

In the second portion of his sermon, he turns from the grounds of Doctrine to "the use of" or reason for the Doctrine. As Seabury puts it: "For God does nothing for naught, and weak as we are we can always discover enough in His works to excite our admiration of His wisdom and goodness."

The rest of the sermon is excellent and I commend it to you -- it is, essentially a refutation of what was then a recent development in the Church of Rome, the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The importance for us is that he develops Doctrine based on the Apostolic teachings handed down, subject always to the ultimate standard, the Word of God.

What a fundamentalist!

More. From this it looks like Seabury only bases Doctrine on two of the three legs of the Anglican stool. What about the third leg, reason?

In this sermon he does reaffirm the three legs, but again note that it must comport with "plain Scripture:
...truth which is conveyed to faith in regard to the invisible and spiritual must correspond to all that is expressed to the senses in regard to the visible and material, provided that nothing be received which is contradictory to reason and plain Scripture.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Shut My Mouth. There are some really great bloggers out there -- better than the drivel you find on even the best op-ed pages. Nevertheless, sometimes there is one that makes me want to turn this blog into a redirect. This is one of those times -- go read "Why Robinson Matters"


This is Lileks-quality work folks.
A Little Knowledge is Dangerous. I know very little about the Law of Schism -- so I don't offer any of this as a legal opinion, I am placing it out there for those who might be interested to start getting familiar with some of these things.

First, both of the First Amendment religion clauses -- freedom of religion and the establishment clause work to try to keep the courts and government out of arbitrating church disputes. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen.

A few key cases (in chronological order, to cut to the chase, skip down to Wolf):
  • Watson v. Jones 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679 (1872). Civil War case -- no use of the First Amendment. See also the Brennan concurrence in a 1970 case.
  • Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral 344 U.S. 94 (1952). This is notable because it's the first application of the 1st Amendment clauses to the Law of Schism. It's really not applicable to the present (on the facts) because the state legislature passed a law determining who would be in control of a denomination. ("By fiat [the state law] displaces one church administrator with another. It passes the control of matters strictly ecclesiastical from one church authority to another. It thus intrudes for the benefit of one segment of a church the power of the state into the forbidden area of religious freedom contrary to the principles of the First Amendment." )
  • Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440 (1969); Here the Court stated "...there are neutral principles of law, developed for use in all property disputes, which can be applied without 'establishing' churches to which property is awarded. But First Amendment values are plainly jeopardized when church property litigation is made to turn on the resolution by civil courts of controversies over religious doctrine and practice." The Court then stated:
    The Georgia courts have violated the command of the First Amendment. The departure-from-doctrine element of the implied trust theory which they applied requires the civil judiciary to determine whether actions of the general church constitute such a "substantial departure" from the tenets of faith and practice existing at the time of the local churches' affiliation that the trust in favor of the general church must be declared to have terminated. This determination has two parts. The civil court must first decide whether the challenged actions of the general church depart substantially from prior doctrine. In reaching such a decision, the court must of necessity make its own interpretation of the meaning of church doctrines. If the court should decide that a substantial departure has occurred, it must then go on to determine whether the issue on which the general church has departed holds a place of such importance in the traditional theology as to require that the trust be terminated. A civil court can make this determination only after assessing the relative significance to the religion of the tenets from which departure was found. Thus, the departure-from-doctrine element of the Georgia implied trust theory requires the civil court to determine matters at the very core of a religion - the interpretation of particular church doctrines and the importance of those doctrines to the religion. Plainly, the First Amendment forbids civil courts from playing such a role.
  • The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Dionisije Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 697 (1976) Here the Court held [see pp. 720-25] that the power to reorganize the dioceses of a hierarchical church in this country, was ''at the core of ecclesiastical affairs'' and a court could not interpret the church constitution to make an independent determination of the power but must defer to the interpretation of the body authorized to decide. (Also, note the dissenters, White and Rehnquist, who would be on opposite sides the next time in...)
  • Jones v. Wolf 443 U.S. 595 (1979). In short, if you followed the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese case mentioned above, you would think the case would go one way, but it went a different way. The local church split and took their property with them. A minority petitioned the hierarchical denomination which sided with the denomination. The state courts, going back to the Watson v. Jones principles, looked first at what the deeds said, what the state laws on trusts said, etc. before deferring to the hierarchical church.

    As a result of this case, the ECUSA adopted the Dennis Canon*. But that's the subject for another discussion.

    * See Canon I.7.4, of the Episcopal Church USA, which states: "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located."
  • Wednesday, November 12, 2003

    Sisyphus for a 2 year old. One of my children's favorite little ditties has been the Michael Finnegan song:
    There once was a man named Michael Finnegan
    He grew whiskers on his chinnegan
    Shaved them off but they grew in again
    Poor old Michael Finnegan - begin again
    Time to go pray with my baby and sing her this, her favorite song. [midi]
    Church Property. One of the huge issues, now that the leadership of the ECUSA has abandoned the Christian faith is control of local church property. The apostate leadership, realizing it's going to lose a large number of "cheerful-giving" Christians, is looking to seizing property to keep itself in chicken dinners until, well, kingdom come ("not that we really take that kind of thing literally")

    There's part of me that thinks, if that's the case -- let's adopt a "poison pill" strategy. Mortgage all church property to the hilt and transfer the proceeds to the faithful churches in Africa. Then have the congregation and ministers walk out, leaving the property and debts to the ECUSA.

    Of course, that wouldn't be a "good faith" type way to deal with this.

    But it's fun to think about.

    Actually, this is a serious issue. I walk around my own sanctuary and church grounds and see the discrete plaques -- "this pew was given to God in memory of..." These are all good faith gifts and there is a stewardship duty to protect them and to ensure that they are used to glorify God.

    My family donated some altar clothes -- the Easter whites -- in memory of my Grandmother. It tears me apart to think that these could be desecrated one day to "bless" what God has not blessed.

    In her address to the AAC convention, Diane Knippers observed:
    I’m also hearing from laypeople who are beginning to realize what is at stake in terms of church property. They are willing to fight for it, but not sacrifice their faith for it. We do not want valuable resources to be at the disposal of those who have abandoned the faith. But we are willing to sing,
    Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
    The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
    His kingdom is forever.

    More Thanks for the comments folks -- these are all excellent. I do want to highlight one from an attorney who is actually handling a similar case in California -- Peter Sean Bradley, the fifth comment.
    Johnny Cash at Wembley, 1986. I'm involved in a trading tree right now where we're swapping the Johnny Cash and Family show in England, 1986. I'll have this on my hard drive for the next month or so. If any one is interested in it, e-mail me at myruststuff [-at-] I'll do this blanks and postage (or trade, if you do that). As always, send no money -- no one profits.

    This is really an excellent show!


    Johnny Cash - 03/31/86
    Wembley Arena (Wembley Country Festival)
    London, England

    CD#1 :
    1. Intro Medley (Johnny Cash Band) (2:40)
    2. Ring Of Fire (2:41)
    3. Folsom Prison Blues (2:40)
    4. Sunday Morning Coming Down (3:37)
    5. Any Old Wind That Blows (2:44)
    6. These Hands (2:35)
    7. Here Comes That Rainbow Again (2:17)
    8. Love Is The Way (2:00)
    9. The Highwayman (with John Schneider) (2:43)
    10. Big River (2:32)
    11. I Guess Things Happen That Way (1:30)
    12. Band Introductions (0:27)
    13. Fairweather Friends (2:38)
    14. Piano Solo (Earl 'Pool' Ball) (3:48)
    15. One Piece At A Time (4:23)
    16. Forty Shades Of Green (2:18)
    17. Ghost Riders In The Sky (3:56)

    CD#2 :
    18. If I Were A Carpenter (with June) (2:04)
    19. Jackson (with June) (2:22) Carter Family (June,
    Helen, Anita):
    20. June Carter Introduction (1:28)
    21. Wabash Cannonball (June Carter) (1:52)
    22. San Antonio Rose (June Carter) (1:04)
    23. Elbow Room (Carter Family with Carlene Carter) (3:23)
    24. I'll Be All Smiles Tonight (Anita) (3:28)
    25. Foggy Mountain Top (Carter Family) (2:38)
    26. Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Carter Family) (3:52)
    27. Wildwood Flower jam (Johnny Cash Band) (0:21)
    28. Wreck Of The Old '97 (with June) (2:52)
    29. A Thing Called Love (2:21)
    30. The Ballad Of Ira Hayes (3:02)
    31. Were You There When They Crucified My Lord (3:26)
    32. Daddy Sang Bass (with John Schneider) (2:12)
    33. Outro (Johnny Cash Band) (0:37)
    34. Casey Jones (1:25)
    35. Orange Blossom Special (3:35)
    36. I Walk The Line (2:07)

    Tuesday, November 11, 2003

    Nice Tribute. Here's a very nice tribute by a son to his forefathers in the military.

    So many of us want to honor the Veterans -- It's not something we were raised with -- honoring Vets -- and it's a difficult thing to teach, it seems to me, if you're active duty military (not wanting to say "honor me.")

    I do give honor to my father, Richard, and his father, Anthony, who both served ably and lived to tell about it. I also honor my mother's brothers who died in France in WWII, William and Robert.

    Thank you.
    Between Iraq and WWII. Viet Nam -- why was it fought? Would the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen do it again? Former Secretary of the Navy and Marine James Webb answers these questions.

    It is a worthy piece for reflection on Veterans Day.

    Monday, November 10, 2003

    Happy Birthday, Marine! It's their 228th Birthday. If you're in Philly, stop by Tun Tavern and buy a "gyrene" a beer.

    It's a day that I'll always remember my grandfather, part of the men who earned the sobriquet "teufel hunden" (not to mention the Fouragere the Fifth Marines are entitled to wear), and honor my father, a (lovable) Leatherneck.
    MLK to American Christians. Today's third (and final) guest blogger is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The following are excerpts (due to copyright restrictions) from his sermon, "Paul's Letter to American Christians" (the entire sermon may be read by following the link):
    I, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to you who are in America, Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    For many years I have longed to be able to come to see you. I have heard so much of you and of what you are doing. I have heard of the fascinating and astounding advances that you have made in the scientific realm. I have heard of your dashing subways and flashing airplanes. Through your scientific genius you have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. You have been able to carve highways through the stratosphere. So in your world you have made it possible to eat breakfast in New York City and dinner in Paris, France. I have also heard of your skyscraping buildings with their prodigious towers steeping heavenward. I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many dread plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonged your lives and made for greater security and physical well-being. All of that is marvelous. You can do so many things in your day that I could not do in the Greco-Roman world of my day. In your age you can travel distances in one day that took me three months to travel. That is wonderful. You have made tremendous strides in the area of scientific and technological development.

    But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress. Your poet Thoreau used to talk about "improved means to an unimproved end." How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood. So America, I would urge you to keep your moral advances abreast with your scientific advances.

    I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world. That is what I had to do. That is what every Christian has to do. But I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by some such principle as this: "everybody is doing it, so it must be alright." For so many of you Morality is merely group consensus. In your modern sociological lingo, the mores are accepted as the right ways. You have unconsciously come to believe that right is discovered by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion. How many are giving their ultimate allegiance to this way.

    But American Christians, I must say to you as I said to the Roman Christians years ago, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Or, as I said to the Phillipian Christians, "Ye are a colony of heaven." This means that although you live in the colony of time, your ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity. You have a dual citizenry. You live both in time and eternity; both in heaven and earth. Therefore, your ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God's will it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the transitory evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.

    * * *

    Let me rush on to say something about the church. Americans, I must remind you, as I have said to so many others, that the church is the Body of Christ. So when the church is true to its nature it knows neither division nor disunity. But I am disturbed about what you are doing to the Body of Christ. They tell me that in America you have within Protestantism more than two hundred and fifty six denominations. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that America.

    * * *

    There is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church. You have a white church and you have a Negro church. You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" and "Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind," you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is.

    * * *

    I understand that there are Christians among you who try to justify segregation on the basis of the Bible. They argue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham. Oh my friends, this is blasphemy. This is against everything that the Christian religion stands for. I must say to you as I have said to so many Christians before, that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus." Moreover, I must reiterate the words that I uttered on Mars Hill: "God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."

    So Americans I must urge you to get rid of every aspect of segregation. The broad universalism standing at the center of the gospel makes both the theory and practice of segregation morally unjustifiable. Segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we all have in Christ. It substitutes an "I-it" relationship for the "I-thou" relationship. The segregator relegates the segregated to the status of a thing rather than elevate him to the status of a person. The underlying philosophy of Christianity is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of segregation, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together. . . .
    This sermon was delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on November 4, 1956. As you can see, I've clipped a lot -- yet I believe that I've been faithful to what applies to us today.