Monday, July 30, 2007

Why I "Migrated" to The Episcopal Church

For as often as I have been asked this question, I'm sure that there are five times as many people who haven't asked but still would like to know. Recently someone emailed me about this question. This was in part my answer:

I came to the conclusion some years ago that "Anglicanism" was not primarily about doctrine or formularies, but about connection to and continuity with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church as mediated through the Church of England. So it seemed foolish to me to identify with Anglicanism on this level while aligning myself with a church or movement that almost entirely identified Anglicanism with doctrine (39 Articles) and formularies (1662 BCP).

While this response will surely not satisfy everyone, perhaps leaving more questions in its wake than answers, it is at least a start. Also, I in no way question the commitment to the Anglican Way of anyone or any group that is not part of or connected in some way to the Anglican Communion. These are serious times, and I respect those of serious mind who see things differently than I. I also applaud all efforts to re-connect the various pieces of the Anglican jig-saw puzzle.

I welcome your comments.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Christological Divide that Anticipated Chalcedon, Part 2

The last segment of this series saw the victory of Antiochene dyophysite christology ("Logos-man") over Apollinaris' extreme version of Alexandrian monophysite christology ("Logos-flesh"), culminating in the condemnation of Apollinarianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381.

Ten Interesting Facts Concerning the Christological Divide that Anticipated Chalcedon, Part 2:

(1) As defenders of Nicene dogma, the Antiochene school's main concern was to uphold the full deity of the Logos by denying that any human attributes or limitations could be attributed to the divine Son. For this reason, Apollinaris' teaching that the incarnate Logos is a composite nature, and thus the proper subject of both divine and human attributes and actions, was considered blasphemous. Prominent Antiochene representatives include John Chrysostom, Diodore of Tarsus (a participant at the Council of Constantinople), and Theodore of Mopsuestia (a pupil of Diodore).

(2) Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350-428, bishop from 392) is credited for providing the definitive Antiochene solution to the conundrum of the unity of the Logos with a complete human nature: the theory of "prosopic union." Theodore's account of the prosopic union posits an indissoluble conjunction of the divine and human natures (phusis) that is so complete and intimate as to effect one "person" (prosopon), in the sense of an external functional subject or outward identity.

(3) While Theodore explicitly denied the old Samasotan heresy of two Sons or two Christs, he nevertheless often spoke of the incarnation in terms of the Logos assuming "the man" (homo assumptus), albeit indissolubly and ineffably, at conception. Furthermore, he described the nature of the union in terms of an indwelling of the Logos in "the man" by "good pleasure" (eudokia), whereby the Word in grace confers his own prosopon to the man. On account of the severe criticism his position would receive from Cyril of Alexandria during the Nestorian controversy, Theodore's christological writings would eventually be condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.

(4) The leading proponent of Alexandrian Christology in this era was Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 378-ca. 444), the nephew of Theophilus of Alexandria, who Cyril succeeded to the patriarchal see in 412. This same Theophilus had engineered the deposition and exile of John Chrysostom from Constantinople in 401. Cyril shared with Theophilus his jealously for the traditional prerogatives of Alexandria, as well as his adroitness at ecclesiastical politics.

(5) Cyril, the latest in the long line of Alexandrian "Logos-flesh" thinkers, understood the incarnation in terms of the Logos adding human flesh (sarx) to his hypostasis, while yet remaining unchanged in his essential deity. The Logos who had existed asarkos (i.e., "outside flesh") had become ensomatos (i.e., "embodied") at the incarnation. Hence, Cyril posited one nature (phusis) "out of two" (eis ek duo). In contrast to the Antiochene "indwelling by good pleasure," Cyril spoke in terms of a "natural" or "hypostatic" union. To express this teaching, Cyril vigorously employed the Apollinarian phrase, "one incarnate nature of the divine Word" (mia phusis tou theou logou sesarkomene), which he mistakenly attributed to Athanasius.

(6) In 428 the Antiochene and Alexandrian christologies collided once again, this time occasioned by the elevation of the Antiochene monk Nestorius to the see of Constantinople. No sooner did Nestorius arrive in the imperial city than he found himself embroiled in a controversy over the use of the venerable title Theotokos ("God-bearer") for the Virgin Mary. Echoing the misgivings of Theodore on the same issue, Nestorius ruled that "that which was formed in the womb is not God," and "God was within the one who was assumed." Hence, Theotokos was judged to be misleading unless qualified with the term Anthropotokos ("man-bearer"), or replaced altogether with the honorific Christotokos ("Christ-bearer").

(7) To make matters worse, Cyril and Nestorius were already at odds over the case of a group of Egyptian monks who had appealed to Nestorius concerning a judgment rendered against them by Cyril. However, Nestorius's disavowal of the unqualified use of Theotokos (a term that had been employed by Athanasius of blessed memory), presented Cyril with tour de force grounds for challenging the authority of the see of Constantinople. Cyril began his attack on Nestorius by writing to the disaffected Egyptian monks in defense of Theotokos.

(8) Despite his reliance on Theodore, Nestorius' articulation of the Antiochene position was deemed innovative and clumsy even by those who were his natural supporters, like John of Antioch. This is because Nestorius spoke in terms of a distinct "prosopon of union," considered by him to be the common prosopon (external identity) of the divinity and the humanity in Christ. This "prosopon of union," not that of the Logos per se, was the historical figure presented in the Gospels. Hence, the truly innovative and heretical feature of Nestorius' position was the coalescence of the two natures, divine and human, into one prosopon that was nevertheless distinct from the prosopa of either the Logos or the man (a genuine tertium quid).

(9) Both Cyril and Nestorius went to great lengths to garner support, writing a series of accusatory letters to each other. Cyril understood the importance of gaining the support of the emperor, Theodosius II, his wife, and his influential sister, Pulcheria, against Nestorius, as well as appealing to the Roman pope, Celestine I. Nestorius also appealed to Celestine, but the latter was already disgruntled by the extension of hospitality in Constantinople to certain exiled Pelagians. A synod held in Rome in 430 called for Nestorius to recant within ten days of the receipt of its judgment and affirm the teaching of "Rome, Alexandria and the whole Catholic Church," or face excommunication.

(10) Cyril, charged by Celestine to execute the sentence, held a synod in Alexandria that confirmed the Roman decision. He then proceeded to write his infamous third letter to Nestorius, to which he presumed to append twelve anathemas that articulated his own uncompromising "Logos-flesh" christology in provocative language and tone. The letter with appended anathemas could not help but alienate prominent Antiochene thinkers like John of Antioch and Theodoret of Cyrrhus, who would now come to the support of Nestorius.

To be continued in Part 3...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Inspired by Barth: My Bullets on Election

Bobby Kennedy probably didn't intend to start a meme, but here's my bullet point contribution to the topic of election:

· The decree of election is God’s eternal (i.e., ever-present) will to give himself in the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ.

· Christ is both the Subject and the Object of election. As Son of God, he is, along with the Father and the Spirit, the electing God. As Son of Man, he is also elected Man; albeit not merely as one elected man, but as the One in whom all others are elected.

· Christ is the all-inclusive election in which we see what election truly is – the unmerited acceptance of humankind by grace.

· The will of the Triune God in electing the Son of Man is the will of God to give himself to humankind in the incarnation of His Son.

· This self-giving is two-fold, both positive and negative (hence, a “double predestination,” if you will). Negatively, God elected himself in Christ to be our covenant-partner, and, as such, bore our merited rejection in his passion and death. Positively, God elected humanity in Christ to be his covenant-partner, and, as such, we are taken up into his glory in his resurrection and ascension.

· Reprobation and election are not two kinds of predestination based on two separate decrees. Rather reprobation and election are the two sides of the same eternal decree of predestination. Reprobation is Christ’s rejection for us that we in turn might not be rejected.

· The election of Jesus Christ includes the election of humankind. This does not mean primarily the election of individuals, but rather the election of the whole of humankind, which is manifested in history in the divine calling of the Church, the elect community, the Body of Christ.

· The Church, the community of the elect, stands in a mediate and mediating role as witness to the truth of God’s will for humankind in Christ. In this way, the elect community mirrors the one Mediator, Jesus Christ.

· The gospel is the declaration of the individual’s election in Jesus Christ, i.e., that Christ bore our merited rejection and gives to us his own glory.

· Individuals begin to live as elect by the event and decision of receiving the promise of Christ as mediated through the witness of, and by inclusion in, the elect community via baptism.

· Those who do not receive the promise of God in Christ live as those rejected in spite of their acceptance (i.e., their election in Christ).

· The relation of free will and grace in predestination is a mystery, yet those who continue to live in the reality of their union in Christ (i.e., those who persevere) are those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bobby Kennedy's Musings on Election

I cruised over to In Hoc Signo Vinces to see what Anglo-Catholic blogger Bobby Kennedy was up to. His recent musings on election (with lengthy caption from the 2nd Council of Orange) is quite insightful. Read the whole article here. What follows is his bulleted list.


If I had to create a bulleted list today of what I affirm concerning election then it would include the following points, in no particular order. This is also not exhaustive.

--Election is corporate and concerns a holy people, a covenant community, and not primarily individuals.

--Election of the covenant community is accomplished through its connection to Christ via a sacramental and ecclesiological framework.

--Baptism is the means by which individuals enter the covenant community of the elect.

--Election of the covenant community entails God’s missionary efforts to redeem the remainder of humanity.

--The covenant community is an eschatological community which prefigures the age to come in the here and now.

--Election does not create a class of the elite but rather a class of servants.

--Any pre-creation acts of predestination, on the part of God toward his creatures, seems to entail his choice of a bride for his Son, and not of individuals into that bride.

--Foreknowledge seems to be the fore-loving of the covenant community rather than the fore-seeing of who would ultimately compose such a community.

--Salvation is dependent upon one’s continual perseverance in the body of Christ.

--Election is dependent on God’s faithfulness, and thus we have the best grounds upon which to make our calling and election sure.

Ten Interesting Facts on the Christological Divide that Anticipated Chalcedon, Part 1

(1) The major christological controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries are directly attributable to the fallout from the Arian controversy, particularly the widening rift between two distinct approaches to christology within the Nicene party -- repectively dubbed the Alexandrian and Antiochene approaches to christology.

(2) Arianism shared a fundamental conception of the incarnation with orthodox Alexandrians (i.e., the Nicene party), wherein the Logos was seen as constituting the real subject of everything that happens to the Christ presented in the Gospel accounts. Consequently, both positions agreed that the Logos in the flesh experienced hunger, thirst, doubt, suffering, and every other limitation known to the human condition.

(3) The Arians appealed to these limitations as proof that the Logos possesses a passible nature, and thus is a creature. In contrast, Athanasius and the Alexandrain party argued that in assuming human flesh the Logos had also assumed a human way of being without forfeiting his divine way of being.

(4) Despite these differences, both the orthodox Alexandrians and the Arians worked from the Platonic premise that the physical body is animated by a spirit or soul that is essentially alien to it. Hence, the Logos, in assuming flesh, constitutes the true life-principle or "ego" of Jesus Christ. The weakness of this approach was that it did not adequately account for a separate created human mind in Christ. This approach is aptly characterized as a "Logos-flesh" Christology, and is fundamentally monophysite in its conception of the incarnation.

(5) In contrast, the dyophysite approach of the orthodox Antiochene school, aptly characterized as a "Logos-man" Christology, emphasized the role of Christ as the "Second Adam," and thus understood the Word or Logos as uniting Himself to a complete human nature, both body and soul. However, the weakness of this position lies in viewing the incarnation as a conjoining, rather than a union, of two complete natures, divine and human, each considered to be the proper subject of its own respective actions and attributes.

(6) Tensions between the two christologies can be dated as early as 352 AD. In 362, a temporary doctrinal accord was reached at a synod held in Alexandria, in which Athanasius himself presided. There Paulinus of Antioch successfully argued that Christ must have assumed a full human nature (both body and soul) in order to save man's body and soul. This argument clearly impressed Athanasius. Yet since he held (in common with other Alexandrians) that the Logos was the very archetpye of the mind or soul, it is doubtful that he actually understood or appreciated the full anthropological implications of the Antiochene position.

(7) Serious controversy erupted a decade later when Apollinaris of Laodicea, an ardent defender of Nicene dogma and a friend of Athanasius, put forward an extreme version of the Alexandrian position. Interestingly, Apollinaris had been the person largely responsible for bringing Basil of Caesarea to the homoousian position.

(8) Anticipating the Eutychian heresy of the 5th century, Apollinaris took the Platonic conception of anthropology to its logical conclusion by denying the existence of a human psychology in Christ and contending that the assumption of the flesh by the Logos resulted in a composite unity of impassible divinity and passible flesh, in which the flesh was considered to be fully absorbed into the divine (flowing from an extreme application of the Alexandrian principle of communicatio idiomata). Incidentally, Apollinaris was the first to employ "hypostasis" (Gr. hupostasis) in a christological setting, a term which he understood to be synomous with the terms prosopon (i.e., person) and phusis (i.e., nature).

(9) For the orthodox Alexandrians, the scandal of Apollonaris' teaching was his admission that Christ's nature was different from that of ordinary human nature, thus rendering Christ immune from human passions, suffering, and limitations. The resulting christology was expressed in the phrase "one incarnate nature of the divine Word" (Gr. mian phusin tou theou logou sesarkomenen).

(10) Pope Damasus condemned Apollinaris outright at a synod in Rome in 377. The actions of this synod were confirmed by synods held in Alexandria (378) and Antioch (379) respectively, and finally at the Council of Constantinople (381). Despite the condemnation of Apollinaris' teaching, the Apollinarian-inspired phrase "one incarnate nature of the divine Word" would eventually become associated with the teaching of Cyril of Alexandria, the champion of the Council of Ephesus (431).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pennsylvanian-Anglican moves to Canterbury

My friend Brett (formerly Pennsylvanian-Anglican) has packed up his blog and moved to a new URL. You can now visit him at A Pilgrim on the Canterbury Trail. I guess Pennsylvania Dutch Country was no match for England's green and pleasant land.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Summer Reading

My inspiration for posting this list comes from the promising young scholar who I hired to teach theology two years ago. Visit his new blog: What God Reads.


1. J.N.D. Kelly. Early Christian Doctrines, Revised Edition. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1978.

--A book I re-read on a fairly regular basis.

2. Kenneth R. Miller. Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007.

--If my readers haven't figured it out yet, this guy changed my entire perspective on the Intelligent Design / Creationism issue.

3. Matthew Alper. The God Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. New York: Rogue Press, 2001.

--I haven't started it yet, but plan to soon. The subtitle says it all. I suspect the author is on a spiritual journey and doesn't know it.

4. Nicholas Wade. Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

--If you have an open mind (i.e., your gag-reflex is not set off by evolutionary theory), this is an extremely well-written work. I enjoyed every moment of it.

5. Bryan Sykes. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.

--I couldn't put it down. Sykes is a world renown geneticist and the author of the groundbreaking Seven Daughters of Eve. Not only does he demonstrate that the Celtic roots of England run as deep as those of Ireland, he also shows how genetics can even serve as the bridge between origin-myths and history.

6. Aidan Nichols. No Bloodless Myth: A Guide Through Balthasar's Dramatics. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000.

--Nichols is one of my favorite authors, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. The combination of the two makes for an incredible read.

7. Lorna Kendall, Ed. Michael Ramsey as Theologian. Oxford: Cowley Publications, 1995.

--Something that's been on my shelf for years. Archbishop Ramsey was a giant, so this reads more like a devotional to me. His theological insights never cease to amaze me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Skewed Theologies, Dangerous Movements, and other Bad Ideas that Threaten to Discredit Christianity in the 21st Century

1. The Evangelical Take on Biblical Inerrancy (e.g., The Chicago Statement)

Any idea or doctrine that must die a death of a thousand qualifications for the sake of plausibility is ... well ... not very plausible. For a better understanding of inerrancy, study Sections 105-107 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2. Penal Substitution Theory of the Atonement

Lying somewhere between a case of divine child abuse and a gross miscarriage of cosmic justice, it’s high time for this monstrous understanding of the atonement to be abandoned. For a more biblical and patristic alternative, read Gustav Aulen’s Christus Victor.

3. Belief in a Young Earth

Face it, the earth’s years are properly measured in the billions, not the thousands. It is time for Christians to admit and accept this fact as a "given," just like other "givens" once disputed by theologians (such as the fact that our spherical earth rotates on its axis while revolving around the sun).

4. Creation Science

Have you checked out any science reviews lately? Creationist polemics notwithstanding, the fossil evidence is actually mounting in favor of biological evolution. But I predict that Genetics, not Archeology, will pound the final nail into the coffin of Creation Pseudo-science.

5. Intelligent Design (related to, but not the same as, above)

What does it say about the state of contemporary evangelical theology that its best argument against Charles Darwin's century-and-a-half old theory rests on a Deistic rehashing of the age-old “god of the gaps” fallacy? For that matter, what does it say about Darwin's theory? Read Ken Miller’s In Search of Darwin’s God.

6. Dispensationalism and the Modern State of Israel

Where does Scripture teach that Israel has an unrestricted, unconditional deed to prime coastal real estate in the Middle East? There is no telling how much political, domestic, and foreign policy damage has been done by Dispensational theology. Remedy: Study the BIBLE, not Scofield's notes, to show thyself approved.

7. The term "Born-Again Christian"

Redundant, misleading, anti-sacramental, ecclesiologically nonsensical, and much too often a blatant oxymoron.

8. MegaChurches

Rather than challenging narcissism, the MegaChurch embraces and institutionalizes it, thus turning narcissism into a Christian virtue. The resulting paradox is a hugely successful message that is profoundly vacuous of any objective content.

9. TULIP Calvinism

Once upon a time there was Isaac Newton, and then came Albert Einstein. Once upon a time there was Theodore Beza, and then came Karl Barth.

10. The “Imminent” Rapture

It’s been 2000 years folks! The end may be a bit closer, but don’t cash in your pension or stop paying your life insurance premiums just yet!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ten More Interesting Facts About the Struggle for the Nicene Faith, Part II: The First Council of Constantinople (381)

(1) After the death of Athanasius (373), the intellectual and spiritual struggle against Arianism was taken up by the "new" Nicene party of the Eastern or Greek Church, consisting of old Origenists and former Homoiousians (i.e., "of like substance" with the Father), who had been persuaded by Athanasius to support the Nicene formula. Early on, the mantle of both organizational and theological leadership fell upon Basil of Caesarea (in Cappadocia). He, along with his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and lifelong friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, would come to be known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

(2) Basil wrote his famous treatise, On the Holy Spirit, to combat the Macedonians or Pneumatomachi ("Spirit-fighters"), a party of former Homoiousians who admitted the divinity of the Son, but not that of the Spirit. Gregory of Nazianzus, known as an orator of great distinction, left behind many homilies defending the cause of the Nicene Faith. Of the three, Gregory of Nyssa possessed the most theological depth, and it was his development of Basil's theology that led to the critical rethink and revision of Eastern Origenist theology that finally brought the "new" Nicenes and the "old" Nicenes together.

(3) Up to this point, the "old" Nicenes had always contended for a single divine hypostasis through which the three Persons -- Father, Son, and Spirit -- subsisted. This explanation sounded suspiciously modalistic to Eastern ears, and, indeed, in some individual cases (like that Marcellus of Ancyra) it frequently was! In contrast, the East had always contended for three individual Hypostases.

(4) By carefully distinguishing between the terms ousia and hupostasis, Gregory successfully contended that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three distinct hypostases (i.e., concrete, subsistent realities) that shared a single, identical being or nature (thus properly considered homoousios). What sets the hypostases apart is not activity, but how each hypostasis relates to the others and to the whole, as Source, Offspring, and Procession.

(5) The political and theological turning point for the Cappadocian cause was the defeat of the eastern Augustus, Valens, by the Visigoths at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The surviving emperor in the West, Gratian, promptly appointed Theodosius I ("the Great") as Augustus in the East, who, unlike Valens, was committed to the Nicene faith. Together, Gratian and Theodosius issued a decree that the whole empire should practice the religion of Damasus of Rome and Peter of Alexandria (i.e., the Nicene faith), effectively establishing these sees as the "senior churches" and guardians of orthodoxy. The Nicene faith was now the official religion of the entire Empire.

(6) Theodosius summoned the council of Constantinople in 381 to deal with the Macedonian issue. Consisting of only 150 eastern bishops, the council had not been intended as an "ecumenical" council at all, but would gradually and eventually be recognized as such.

(7) The council, in contending for the deity of the Spirit, naturally confirmed the original symbol of Nicaea. It also considered another formula based on a baptismal creed in which key Nicene terms and phrases were inserted, and including a phrase declaring that the Holy Spirit is "worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son."

(8) The council never actually adopted the new symbol, ironically due to the desire of some and the reluctance of others to insert the term homoousios in reference to the Spirit. Nevertheless, the creed would always be associated with its name and work. Because of its increasing popularity and use as a liturgical symbol, the creed eventually achieved universal acceptance. It was finally confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which solemnly declared it to be the faith of the 150 bishops assembled under Theodosius at Constantinople. This creed, rather than the original symbol of Nicaea, is the one we know and recite today as the "Nicene Creed."

(9) Far from being free of contention and controversy, the Council of Constantinople became the source of further tensions between the East and the West: first, by bypassing Rome and Alexandria's choice for president of the council -- Paulinus , a prominent leader of the "old" Nicenes -- in favor of Meletius, a "new" Nicene supported by the majority. Meletius, however, died in the course of the meeting, and the council proceeded to appoint another "new" Nicene, Flavian of Antioch. Gregory of Nazianzus, who had been elected at the beginning of the council to replace the Arian bishop of Constantinople, quickly resigned his see in protest to the council's failure to conciliate Rome. The council then elected Nectarius to be bishop of Constantinople.

(10) The council's Second and Third Canons served to further alienate Rome and Alexandria by declaring (i) Constantinople to be a patriarchal see, and (ii) the bishop of Constantinople to have "the primacy of honor" after the bishop of Rome on the grounds that Constantinople was "new Rome." This not only set up a new source of friction between East and West, but also a new rivalry between Constantinople and Alexandria

Thursday, July 12, 2007

TOP FIVES: My Rock Music Favorites

Favorite Rock Groups / Favorite Songs:
1. Pink Floyd / Echoes
2. Beatles / My Guitar Gently Weeps
3. Yes / Revealing Science of God
4. Led Zeppelin / No Quarter
5. Rush / Working Man

Favorite Male Vocalists:
1. Steve Walsh (Kansas)
2. Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company)
3. Freddy Mercury (Queen)
4. David Gilmore (Pink Floyd)
5. Van Morrison

Favorite Female Vocalists:
1. Anne Wilson (Heart)
2. Annie Lennox (Eurythmics)
3. Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)
4. Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane)
5. Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)

Favorite Rock Guitarists:
1. David Gilmore (Pink Floyd)
2. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
3. Steve Howe (Yes)
4. Eric Clapton (Cream, etc.)
5. Jimmy Hendrix (Jimmy Hendrix Experience)

Favorite Rock Keyboardists:
1. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
2. Keith Emerson (ELP)
3. Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)
4. Kerry Livgren (Kansas)
5. Ray Manzarek (Doors)

Favorite Rock Drummers:
1. Neal Peart (Rush)
2. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
3. Bill Bruford (Yes / King Crimson)
4. Stuart Copeland (Police)
5. Carl Palmer (ELP)

Favorite Rock Bassists:
1. Chris Squire (Yes)
2. Sting (Police)
3. Geddy Lee (Rush)
4. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
5. Jack Bruce (Cream)

Favorite Rock Albums (from different groups):
1. Led Zeppelin IV (Led Zeppelin)
2. Aqualung (Jethro Tull)
3. White Album (Beatles)
4. Are You Experienced? (Jimmy Hendrix)
5. Let It Bleed (Rolling Stones)

Favorite Progressive Rock Albums (from different groups):
1. Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
2. Close to the Edge (Yes)
3. 2112 (Rush)
4. In the Court of the Crimson King (King Crimson)
5. Masque (Kansas)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Athanasius on the Semi-Arians: De Synodis, ca. 359 AD

Those who deny the council (of Nicaea) altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks; those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicaea, and doubt only about the Co-essential (i.e., homoousios), must not be treated as enemies; nor do we here attack them as Ariomaniacs, nor as opponents of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from another subsistence, and that he is not a creature nor work, but his genuine and natural offspring, and that he is eternally with the Father as being his Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase Co-essential. Now such is Basil of Ancyra, who wrote concerning the faith. For only to say 'like according to essence' (i.e., homoiousios) is very far from signifying 'of the essence', by which, rather, as they say themselves, the genuine relationship of the Son to the Father is signified....This is sufficient to show that the meaning of the beloved ones, that is, the Semi-arians, is not foreign nor far from the 'Co-essential' (Athanasius, De Synodis, 41, 43).

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ten Interesting Facts About the Struggle for the Nicene Faith

1. Constantine's initial solution to the Arian controversy was to send a letter (in 324) to Alexander of Alexandria and Arius stating that the issue being debated amounted to a minor difference over a point of detail.

2. The idea for dealing with the Arian controversy in an "ecumenical" council came from Hosius of Cordova, who on his return from dropping off Constantine's letter, presided over a council in Antioch which installed Eustathius, an anti-Arian, and issued a rather clumsy confession of faith that proclaimed the Logos "begotten not from non-existence but from the Father, not as made but as properly an offspring."

3. In 325, Constantine invited every bishop of the empire to convene at Nicaea, over 1800 in all, at the empire's expense. However, only about three hundred (the traditional number is 318) actually attended, and only six from the West.

4. Three disparate parties were represented at Nicaea: (1) Arius' supporters, the most prominent being Eusebius of Nicodemia; (2) Alexander's supporters, such as Eustathius of Antioch and Marcellus of Ancyra; and (3) those holding a "conservative" subordinationist position (as taught by Origen), by far the largest contingent, among them Eusebius of Caesarea. Many from this last party were at the time, or would eventually become, sympathizers of Arius.

5. All but two bishops signed the creed, wishing to keep the emperor happy. Yet many expressed suspicion that the creed's language -- particularly the term homoousios -- implied or outright taught the error of modalistic monarchianism. And, indeed, the views of at least one of the creed's prominent fervent supporters, Marcellus of Ancyra, were implicitly monarchian.

6. Eusebius of Nicodemia was exiled shortly after the Council of Nicaea for communicating Arius, but was recalled by Constantine in 328 to become bishop of the imperial capital and Constantine's principle advisor in the process. From this position, he labored to reestablish the dominance of the Eastern subordinationist position, undermining the Nicene formula (under Constantine's nose). Eusebius managed to depose and exile Alexander's successor, Athanasius, on trumped up charges, and Marcellus of Ancyra.

7. After Constantine's death, the depositions of Athanasius and Marcellus would lead to a schism between the East and the West when both bishops appealed to Julius of Rome. Eastern bishops gathered in Antioch in 341 to repudiate Arianism, disavow Rome's right to act as a court of appeal, and assert a subordinationist view of the Logos over against the alleged monarchianism implied by the Nicene symbol. The Latin church convened a separate council at Sardica, from which the Greeks withdrew when Athanasius and Marcellus were invited to sit, where they insisted that there is but one hypostasis of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (ousia and hypostasis were not yet distinct terms).

8. The efforts of Emperor Constantius (Constantine's son) to enforce a non-committal imperial orthodoxy led to the Council of Sirmium's (357) prohibition of terms such as ousia and homoousios, effectively repudiating the Nicene formula. This made room for a revival of "Arianism" in various forms, such as the Homoean party (from homoios, asserting that the Son is "like" the Father), the Anomoeans (who held that the Son was "unlike" the Father), and, lastly, those who insisted that the Son was not only "like" the Father, but "like in respect of substance" (the Homoiousian party).

9. The efforts of Athanasius from 359 to achieve reconciliation between the Homoousian and the Homoiousian parties opened the way to a fresh reappraisal of the Nicene symbol. The pro-Arian policies of Constantius II (and fifth and final exile of Athanasius) further encouraged the budding alliance between the two parties. From this alliance a "new Nicene party" would emerge, eventually finding worthy leadership in Basil of Caesarea (in Cappadocia) and Miletius of Antioch. Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, would also contribute their theological acumen to the Nicene cause. (These three would come to be known as the Cappadocian Fathers.)

10. Differences between the "old" Nicenes (West) and "new" Nicenes (East) continued to persist for a time, including uncertainty as to the divine status of the Holy Spirit. The differences would be resolved by the Cappadocians' ingenious distinction between the terms ousia and hypostasis in their articulation of the Trinity. The Council of Constantinople in 381 marked the final triumph of Nicene orthodoxy. Intriguingly, while condemning the Pneumatomachi ("Spirit-fighters"), the council did not insist on using homoousios to describe the Holy Spirit's relation to the Father, in deference to the few remaining Homoiousians.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"Reappraisers and Reasserters": A Re-Working of Balthasar's Statement in Light of the Present Struggles of the Anglican Communion

See the earlier entry below for the original quote.
They are either fanatically "come of age" (the "reappraisers") or fanatically immature (the "reasserters" who clamor for a strict enforcement of confessional standards, as interpreted by them, and seek to move the Communion away from its Canterbury-centeredness toward a federalist scheme). Just as the fanatics (i.e. Puritans) who insisted on a more thoroughgoing reform of the Church of England were condemned, by an iron law of the philosophy of history, to bring about the very opposite of what they intended and thus fall prey to the schizophrenia of dialectics, so today the elements on the fringe of the Anglican Communion, reappraisers and reasserters, are forever metamorphosing into each other, dialectically provoking each other into existence.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

"Progressives and Integrists" by Hans Urs von Balthasar

The last sentence is the money statement...

They are either fanatically "come of age" (the progressives) or fanatically immature (the integralists who clamor for the tangible exercise of papal authority and elevate to the status of dogma things that are not, such as Communion on the tongue and all kinds of apparitions of the Mother of God, etc). Just as the fanatics who insisted on the soli of the Reformation were condemned, by an iron law of the philosophy of history, to bring about the very opposite of what they intended and thus fall prey to the schizophrenia of dialectics, so today the elements on the fringe of Catholicism, progressivism and integralism, are forever metamorphosing into each other, dialectically provoking each other into existence.