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Monday, April 30, 2012

Why North American Anglicans are the Way We Are

By the Rev Matt Kennedy,  StandFirm in Faith Blog

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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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for passing this post along, David. I sometimes disagree with Matt Kennedy's comments, but not here. I would also add to the mix of "reasons why" a shift in approach in Sunday School curriculum for children from one centered on attaining a high familiarity with basic stories and patterns of the Old and New Testament to one centered more on ethical values. (Don't get me wrong, I'm all for ethical values. But the deep structure of Bible stories can be the foundation of more mature Biblical literacy, and we've sailed in another direction in large part in the last 50 years or so.) Combine this with the diminishing experience of Bible reading in the home, and the result is . . . . Well, we see what the result is . . . .