Monday, April 30, 2012
Why North American Anglicans are the Way We Are
In my experience many North American Episcopalians/Anglicans, even from very good orthodox churches, have only a rudimentary concept of what lies between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22 - and, worse, little desire to learn. Here are seven reasons (among many) why we are the way we are:
1. Many life-long Anglicans/Episcopalians have grown up with short devotional/poetic homilies only tangentially related to a biblical text rather than biblical exposition. This has bred a passionless, incurious, passive approach to giving and listening to sermons, engaging in bible study, and reading the bible.
2. Driven by the charismatic renewal movement in the late sixties and the growing severity of doctrinal disputes in the Episcopal Church, many Episcopal leaders began to focus on creating a “spiritual experience” to the exclusion of teaching biblical doctrine and ensuring that people understand what Christians believe and why. This created feeling-focused congregations hungry for mountain-top experiences, too impatient for the long slow work of reading, marking and inwardly digesting the word of God.
3. Many Anglican/Episcopal priests distrust the sufficiency of the word of God for the growth (Mk 4:1-20), health (2 Tim 3:16) and sanctification of the church (Jn 17:17), depending rather exclusively on the liturgy and the sacraments to do the work Jesus assigns to the word. This distrust carries the added benefit of making Sunday morning very easy on the priest. Just go through the liturgy and you’re done. This has created many congregations that consider themselves “eucharistically centered” but in reality have no interest in or desire for God’s self revelation in scripture. The readings and sermon are a prelude to the really important part of worship.
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