COI Gazette – 9th August

International liturgists focus on healing and reconciliation in Dublin consultation

9Aug

The steering committee of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation are pictured in the King’s Hospital (from left) Cynthia Botha, Eileen Scully, Bishop Kito Pikaahu, the Revd Alan Rufli and Nak Hyou Joo. (Photo: Lynn Glanville)

Caption:

Delegates from throughout the Anglican Communion came together last week in Dublin for a meeting of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (IALC).

The six-day consultation took place in The King’s Hospital, Palmerstown, the first time that the IALC had met in Dublin since 1995.

The consultation was organised by the Revd Alan Rufli, rector of Clondalkin, who is also the Church of Ireland’s Electronic Liturgical Officer and Diocesan Liturgical Officer for Dublin and Glendalough.

Mr Rufli worked closely with his fellow-members of the IALC steering committee – which holds responsibility for arrangements between successive IALC meetings – Cynthia Botha (Southern Africa, who is the IALC secretary and liaison officer), Bishop Kito Pikaahu (Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia), Eileen Scully (Canada) and Nak Hyon Joo (Korea).


 

Editorial

FIGURES IN CHURCH HISTORY – 34 JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564)

John Calvin may be described as one of the most influential figures in Christian history and the father of what is known as ‘Reformed’ Christianity and Presbyterianism. The Calvinist form of Protestantism has been thought by some to have had a major impact on the formation of the modern world, although the claim that it was responsible for the rise of capitalism has been contested.

Calvin was born in France and the effect of his writings in his native land was shown by the fact that, at the time of his death, there were already 2,000 Huguenot congregations there. As a young man, he went to the University of Paris to be educated for the priesthood, but turned to law instead. He was influenced initially by the humanism of the Renaissance and studied the Bible in its original languages. He was later to write commentaries on the New Testament and much of the Old Testament.

In 1536, he accepted an invitation to go to the Swiss city of Geneva to assist in the Reformation, but was expelled in 1538 because of public resentment against the numerous and too drastic changes he introduced. He returned to Geneva in 1541 and, in the face of strong opposition, established a rigorous system of theocratic government. In 1553, he had the Spanish theologian, Servetus (who denied the doctrine of the Holy Trinity), burned for heresy and this remains a stain on his memory. However, he strongly supported the English Protestants persecuted by Mary I.

Calvin’s masterwork was his Institutes of the Christian Religion, first published in 1536, which, with its successive revisions, became the most important statement of Christian belief of its time, far outweighing the writings of Martin Luther, except in those parts of Germany and Scandinavia where Lutheranism had become firmly established.

Calvin’s influence was great not only in Scotland, where it became normative, but also in the Church of Ireland, which remained strongly Calvinist in theology, at least until the rise of the Caroline divines in the mid-17th century. The most famous of Irish Calvinist theologians was undoubtedly Archbishop James Ussher, one of the most learned men of his day, whose memory unfortunately has been clouded to some extent by his attempt to give a date (2004 BC) to the act of Creation.

Like Luther, Calvin believed in the total depravity of humanity, a doctrine he shared with St Augustine, but which may be said to have gone far beyond what St Paul taught about the nature of sin and the need for redemption. Calvin also invented the baleful idea of ‘double predestination’, according to which, God had not only chosen some people for salvation but also designated the greater part of humanity to be eternally condemned.

Calvin’s doctrine of the sacraments, although more constructive than those of Zwingli and the Anabaptists, stopped short of their being, in the full sense, means of grace. Nonetheless, he did regard them as useful aids to faith, emphasizing, however, that it was the preaching of the Word which mattered.

This editorial is one in a series of occasional reflections on figures in Church history, following a chronological sequence as they appear.


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Letters to the Editor

Church of Ireland-Methodist interchangeability of ministry

It is common ground that Richard Hooker (c.1554- 1600) was Anglicanism’s greatest and most effective defender of episcopal order (C. D. C. Armstrong, Gazette, 2nd August) and insisted upon the norm of episcopal ordination, but it is also indisputable that he allowed an exception to this (Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book VII, Chapter xiv §7): “Another extraordinary kind of vocation is, when the exigence of necessity doth constrain to leave the usual ways of the Church which otherwise we would willingly keep; where the Church must needs to have some ordained, and neither hath nor can have possibly a Bishop to ordain.

In case of such necessity, the ordinary institution of God hath given oftentimes, and may give, place. And therefore we are not simply without exception to urge a lineal descent of power from the Apostles by continued succession of Bishops in every effectual ordination. These cases of inevitable necessity excepted, none may ordain but only Bishops … ”

The exception is theologically significant in that it allows a distinction between a means of grace (which episcopal ordination certainly is) and an exclusive means of grace – which it manifestly isn’t – and that is highly relevant to the present Church of Ireland- Methodist proposals for the interchange of ministries which are of such a character as to be worthy of support by those of all ecclesial backgrounds within our Church.

Michael Kennedy (Canon) Lisnadill Rectory 60 Newtownhamilton Road Armagh BT60 2PW

In relation to Church of Ireland-Methodist interchangeability of ministries, there are some issues which still need to be resolved, despite Barry Forde’s comments (Letter, Gazette, 5th July).

The main problem seems to arise over the interpretation of the Preface to the Ordinal in BCP 2004 (p. 518) which is a statement of the doctrine of the Sacred Ministry, consisting of three distinct orders in continuous succession from “the Apostles’ time”.

This is the “historic episcopate”, a term which appears to be accepted by the Covenant Council (General Synod Reports, 2011, p. 367).

I have strong suspicions that the term ‘episcopal minister’ has been chosen to avoid the use of the term ‘bishop’.

The Covenant Council reports appear vague as to the status of Methodist Presidents installed prior to the enactment of the ‘interchangeability’ Canon.

Are they to be considered as ‘episcopal ministers’, despite not being episcopally consecrated, and invited to participate in Church of Ireland episcopal consecrations (General Synod Reports, 2011 p. 367)? This would be a radical departure from the practice of the Church of Ireland, where, up to now, in the case of non-Anglicans, only duly consecrated bishops, such as Old Catholic bishops from the Union of Utrecht, have taken part.

I wonder if these proposals would place the Church of Ireland in the position of acting in a manner “incompatible with the (Anglican Communion) Covenant” (Covenant para. 4.2.6, in General Synod Reports, 2010, p. 244).

The General Synod “subscribed” the Anglican Communion Covenant in 2011 and therefore must be bound by its terms. In relation to the Sacred Ministry, it states: “Each Church affirms … the historic episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of the Church.” (Para. 1.1.6, ibid., p. 237)

I rather doubt if the statement by the Covenant Council that the historic episcopate is “embodied in the Methodist Conference” with a “personal expression” of it given by the Methodist Presidents is really satisfactory. It seems to go beyond a normal interpretation of the historic episcopate, particularly as the Methodist Presidents have not, at least to date, received episcopal consecration by bishops in the historic succession.

Charles Jury Belfast BT9

Note: In the interests of all concerned – and not least of the interchangeability plan itself – the Gazette has sought official clarification of various aspects of this subject from the central Church and will report any response. – Editor


 

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