How to Understand the Homilies

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand how to understand the Homilies. What part of doctrine formation do they play in Anglicanism? Can we disagree with parts of a homily while agree with parts and still say that it contains good and wholesome doctrine and remain a faithful Anglican? How does one approach them? Are they considered not the same level as church councils?
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yeah they are treated as pious teaching, not a doctrinal formulary. That being said, most of them are masterful expressions of universal doctrine, best in their class.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The Homilies came to be in the early period of the Church separated from Rome, and the intent was to ensure that quality teaching abounded in the land. There existence should be understood in the same context as the placing of the Great Bible in every Church in the land. The intent was to have the people well schooled in the faith, and understanding their Christian Faith far more fully that before. The homilies resourced the clergy to deliver a consistent message throughout the land that set the tone for the newly independent English Church.

    In general they represent the understanding of the Church at the time on a range of issues. Some of the Homilies were quite brave - the Homily against Whoring and Adultery - to place at a time when many thought that the chief sport of the court was chambering. To the contemporary ear they are a little strange, very long sentences, paragraphs that can run to two or three pages, and you have to listen hard to follow the argument. Some of the things they discuss require us to invest time in understanding as they are things no longer simply help in mind of the average person.

    To my mind they do not carry the weight of the Oecumenical Councils, however (and I speak specifically of the first book of homilies which I know the best) they do not carry much in the way of doctrine that should trouble many of us. The priority of faith before works is strenuously argued, and works outside of faith are perhaps harshly spoken of. They do see the King in a more positive light than we are likely to see leaders in our own age.

    They are in a Tudor English, which has perhaps not been as enduring as the Elizabethan English that followed, so the modern reader has to keep their wits about them. There were certainly not written as ten minute light reflections on a reading such as many of us experience today in hearing sermons. I think they are well worth some effort.
     
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  4. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I think it is Homily number 8 that is about perjury and oaths. It says that laying after swearing on the Bible is basically unforgivable. I just don't believe this. I see nothing about that in the Bible. But in general the it is a solid sermon. It has lot of good in it that could be of use to the average person. So I take it as wrong in a part or two but over all a very solid sermon. Is this how they are supposed to be used?
     
  5. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Active Member Anglican

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    It's very possible that you're missing a nuance, given the "translation" required to make sense of ye olde writing style. But, as you said, the Homilies can contain good and wholesome doctrine without being perfect and infallible. They definitely are not equal to the Councils. The way the 39 Articles of Religion put things suggests that the Councils are closer to the foundation of Scripture, the Articles built on top of them, and the Homilies built above that - making them the "least important" part of our formularies. Hopefully that makes sense.
     
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  6. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    An Oath Before a Judge.
    First, when laying hands on the Gospel book, swear truly to enquire, and make a true presentation of things wherewith they are charged, and to tell the truth, and doing so truly, not for favor, love, dread, or malice of any person, as God may help them, and the holy contents of that book: They must consider, that book contains God's everlasting truth, his most holy and eternal word, whereby we have forgiveness of our sins, and be made inheritors of heaven, to live forever with God's Angels and Saints, in joy and gladness. In the Gospel Book is contained also God's terrible threats to obstinate sinners, that will not amend their lives, nor believe the truth of God and his holy word, and the everlasting pain prepared in hell for idolaters, hypocrites, for false and vain swarers, for perjured men, for false witness bearers, for false accusers of innocent and guiltless men, and for them which for a favor, hide the crimes of evil doers, that they should not be punished.

    Whoever wilfully falsely swear themselves upon Christ's Holy Evangelists, they utterly forsake God's mercy, goodness, and truth, the merits of our Saviour Christ’s nativity, life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension, they refuse the forgiveness of sins, promised to all penitent sinners, the joys of heaven, the company with Angels and Saints for ever. All which benefits and comforts are promised to true Christians in the Gospel. And they, so being falsely sworn on the Gospel, take themselves to do the Devil’s service, the master of all lies, falsehood, deceit, and perjury, provoking the great indignation and curse of God against them in this life, and the terrible wrath and judgement of our Saviour Christ, at the great day of the last judgement, when he shall justly judge both the quick and the dead, according to their works. For whoever forsakes the truth, for love or displeasure of anyone, or for money and profit to themselves, do forsake Christ, and with Judas betray him.

    I am not sure how I misread that but I find it wrong. So it would be ok to find this wrong, and I think that most would agree with me that this is bad theology but over all the homily has some decent stuff in it.
     
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  7. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    What's wrong with that, actually? Sounds like we could use more of such doctrine in today's lying world... not less
     
  8. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Because it is not scriptural. Lying is wrong and a sin and it is wrong to lie after putting your hand on the Bible but if you do so you do not utterly forsake yourself from forgiveness.
     
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  9. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    But doesn't all sin forsake you from forgiveness? Which is precisely why you need to repent, and seek absolution, right? Otherwise what's the issue with committing a sin (any sin), if it's just a sideways look and a slap on the wrist?
     
  10. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Whoever wilfully falsely swear themselves upon Christ's Holy Evangelists, they utterly forsake God's mercy, goodness, and truth, the merits of our Saviour Christ’s nativity, life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension, they refuse the forgiveness of sins, promised to all penitent sinners, the joys of heaven, the company with Angels and Saints for ever. All which benefits and comforts are promised to true Christians in the Gospel. And they, so being falsely sworn on the Gospel, take themselves to do the Devil’s service, the master of all lies, falsehood, deceit, and perjury, provoking the great indignation and curse of God against them in this life, and the terrible wrath and judgement of our Saviour Christ, at the great day of the last judgement, when he shall justly judge both the quick and the dead, according to their works. For whoever forsakes the truth, for love or displeasure of anyone, or for money and profit to themselves, do forsake Christ, and with Judas betray him.................... I don't know how to read this in any way but that you are cut off from the means from forgiveness, which I find to be not scriptural.
     
  11. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Can't we say that murder also cuts you off from the means of forgiveness? As does adultery?

    If we see sins as the incredibly horrific crimes which they indeed appear like to God, then they become heavier in our minds, than today's Christian culture would allow... So instead of lowering the severity of lying down to something 'reasonable', maybe we should elevate the severity of all sins to 'unreasonable' heights,- where they all sever us from God and from salvation, unless we receive absolution
     
  12. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    So you read it as still able to receive forgiveness?
     
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  13. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yeah I read it as being unable to reconcile with God on your own... Like you can't just say, oops I killed someone but, hey God, I feel bad about it... "sorry!"

    No, that's not going to cut it, you are cut off from me without outside help (from my ministers whom I, God, have left in the world for the purpose of being the healers of souls)


    So if you swear upon the holy Scriptures, with the purpose of lying, then that literally cuts you off, unless a healer of souls can reattach you back into the body of the faithful

    "The Cure of Souls"
    http://www.tecmalta.org/tft270.htm
     
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  14. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    That is done through the receiving of Absolution during the service?
     
  15. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Right, a full repentance and following it, the rite of Absolution
     
  16. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member Anglican

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    That isn't what it said to me, either. I agree with bwallac2335! It sounds as if no matter how penitent you are you are cut off from God and there is NO forgiveness. That's not at all Scriptural. Sounds like the author didn't have his breakfast yet.
     
  17. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I think that art of the issue is that we regard these days lightly the matter of taking an oath upon the Holy Scriptures. The inference of the action (in the context of the homilies) is to call the scriptures (an indeed God himself) to bear witness to the truth of what you are about to say. If we take such an oath and then speak falsehoods, the inference is that Scripture and God are liars. It is the weight to the value of the oath sworn that we so little understand.

    Many of the penalties imposed by the courts of that time were life changing (or ending), so it was critical that we had a reliable standard that the courts could function. The full weight of the homily was not so much a matter of the theology of grace and redemption, as to the need for Christians to tell the truth, and in any circumstance where the weight of faith, scripture of the divine were invoked in witness to the truth to redouble our efforts to ensure that the truth was spoken.
     
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  18. Juliana

    Juliana Member Anglican

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    It seems to me that someone who wilfully lies like that, and calls God a liar, does not even want to be repentant, but is like Pharaoh, hardening his heart.
     
  19. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    But the question is if the said person is sorry and repents is there forgiveness to be found for him? Of course I say yes
     
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  20. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I do not see where it says that they are beyond repentance and forgiveness?