Discussion in 'Church History' started by Stalwart, Jan 5, 2021.
I just haven't rationalized away all my hangups. Maybe I'll get there one day.
In Exodus 20 it says, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them... If we were to bow to a cross, we would be bowing to a likeness of a thing that is in the earth. But if we say that we are actually bowing "to Christ on the cross," I have to question why, since Christ hasn't been on the cross for nearly 2,000 years. Jesus is neither on nor in the cross; He's not physically on earth at all. He is not on the altar when we come into the nave or when we leave. Yet we are expected to bow toward the altar. Yes, it looks respectful and pious, but is it really and truly Scriptural?
When Anglicans first shook the Roman dust off their feet and took their leave, they also took along some habits that look pious and feel comforting. My question is, do those habits please God as much as they please us? When I read the Commandment, I feel like the bowing might be displeasing to Him, so I don't feel good about it. Yet I feel pressure to 'fit in' and make a pious appearance like the other parishioners.
That was talking about worshipping not showing respect or reverence to things.
The English church was first occupied by the Romans in 1066 AD, so it was a stretch of 500 years of occupation before it was liberated again in the 1540s. Before the Norman occupation as well as after (and often times during the occupation), the English church has carried its own approach that was not Roman.
There is a third option. It's not only pleasing God, or pleasing us, but also being necessary to us. You make it seem like faith is easy and a life of devotion is a piece of cake for anyone, so let's not encumber it with unnecessary externalities. In my experience the life of faith is very difficult and highly unnatural to the animal and primal nature within us.
Sure even an ape stares at the sky and wonders about the meaning of life every now and then, but that's a far cry from having to wake up every Sunday dragging screaming kids to church. Let alone resisting the LMNOP mafia and exposing yourself to being fired and your family impoverished. The mindset that helps you resist the corruption of the World demands from you a ceaseless immersion and re-immersion in the things of God.
People do everything they can to strengthen their slender thread to the divine. Even if you may find it easy, know that for almost everyone out there, it's not.
Definitely don't do it to fit in, because Christ will judge you alone, just like all the rest of us. But when you see them do it, don't go harsh on them. Without external observance, I and others like me will increasingly get more secular. Have mercy on those people, they're weaker than you. External observance is not a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. The church has been right next to atheism for the last 2000 years, and in our weakness and spiritual poverty we've needed to employ aspects of the external world to connect us to the Ancient of Days, and to his Son.
Yet they also made Cherubs and a serpent on a pole. As I said in my post, Signum et Res. The symbol participates in the reality of the thing itself. Part of a Sacramental worldview is also one of Participation. This is thoroughly Augustinian, picked up by John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, and Gregory Palamas out East. It is also a very Jewish idea too, consider setting the place for Elijah at the table for him - but Elijah hasn't walked the earth in thousands of years? It stems from the idea that God is outside time and symbols participate in the thing itself, in some way. We bow to the Altar to reverence the table, upon which rests the Mystical Body and Blood of Christ made present there for us. Again, this stems to a Sacramental and Participatory worldview. If you view the Supper as Zwingli did, it makes no sense to have ceremony or reverence the elements. But the Christian, and therefore the Anglican, looks through Physicality and discerns the Spiritual through it. Even if you deny that Christ is present in the Eucharist, you can not deny the bread and wince, once consecrated, are instrumental in bringing about the Holy Communion. That is about the lowest possible view of the Sacrament tolerable in Anglicanism. So that is itself quite Participatory. You Participate in Christ's Body and Blood through the elements of Bread and Wine once Hallowed. Through Natural to Supernatural.
The Church loves this idea. That is why we have a Church year making Christ's life "continue" in some way to us. Not that he is doing the events again, but in some way we participate in the Nativity, or on Palm Sunday when we process. Consider why we have palms for Palm Sunday. If you only consider the symbols in and of themselves, then you will not comprehend what the Church has put out for us. Look through them and see what they point to, they allow us to Participate mystically in Christ.