Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Dec 17, 2019.
Thought it might be interesting because N.T. Wright wrote it.
Yes, it's true that many Christians think of heaven as the final destination. Instead it's the "blissful resting place" Wright refers to, where we are "absent from the body" but "present with the Lord," while we wait for this physical universe to be done away with and a new, unadulterated one to be created for our habitation.
It would therefore come as a surprise to many 'believers', that Our Lord spoke very little about heaven, while he was here on Earth. He spoke most about how we should behave here on Earth and about 'The Kingdom of God' being established on Earth, in US, his followers. We have no descriptions from Jesus Christ of the 'Heaven' in which God resides, only instructions and stories containg key information on how to go about establishing a similar regeme of peace and justice here and now, 'on earth as it is in Heaven'. Those of us who have 'ears to hear', concentrate on that.
Some ardently religious 'believers' are so Heavenly focused and obsessed, that they have become of no Earthly use.
My parish got an episcopal visit last Sunday. The Archbishop reflected on this topic in much the same way as Bp. Wright.
Indeed, a good message that many Christians need to hear.
Very nice. Who is your Archbishop? By the way, aside from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is styled Metropolitan of All England, are there any other Metropolitans in the Anglican world?
In the Greek church they are very common; all senior bishops are Metropolitans, like Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (who is largely responsible both for my love of Orthodoxy and of Anglicanism). Archbishops are senior to Metropolitans in the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece. In the Russian and Antiochian Orthodox church however, Metropolitans are second in rank only to the Patriarch (who is primus inter pares), and Archbishops preside over archdioceses.
One aspect of TEC that annoys me is the Presiding Bishop is not called an Archbishop, Metropolitan, Catholicos, or Patriarch (perhaps the latter title would have spared us the former Presiding Bishop, who was horrible compared to the current bishop). Since the Episcopal church is divided into Provinces, it would make rather more sense if each Province had a Metropolitan (since that is the title from the ancient church for the bishop of a province), and major dioceses like, say, Los Angeles, became Archdioceses. Correct me if I am wrong, but at its zenith, the Protestant Episcopal Church was slightly larger than the Church of England, was it not? So the titular inflation would be logical.
Moving back to the message, it is absolutely spot-on theologically, soteriologically and eschatologically. And the sad part is large numbers of Christians do not know this; they do know about the last judgement, but interpret it in incompatible ways that assume a heavenly abode being the ultimate destination. Ironically, the Seventh Day Adventists do get the eschatological desire right, but they foul up with Annihilationism and Soul Sleep.
But what really ticks me off is growing up Methodist, I never once heard a sermon explaining this doctrine. Not once. Nor in the LCMS school that I attended did I hear an explanation of it in chapel, even though the pastor did cover a lot of other ground. It wasn’t until I became Orthodox that I learned what salvation entailed. And prior to that, I was actually scared of Heaven, because, while better than Hell or simply ceasing to exist, the idea of a stagnant eternity and of infinite linear time terrifies me. Only the idea of theosis, acquiring a detachment from linear time through entire sanctification, and the promise of perpetual absolute love was enough to shake this horrible existential fear.
Now all this could have been prevented had Methodist preachers, and Lutheran religion classes, and Sunday school, done their job.
In the case of Anglicanism, however, I believe there are far more preachers who actually preach solid doctrinal exposition, rather than moralizing sermons. Also my traditional Episcopalian friend Fr. Bryan Owens, who is a fierce critic of everything wrong with TEC, preaches about it. Another thing I was never taught about was the true nature of the Trinity; I found this out in Orthodoxy and later in Anglicanism. The lack of the Nicene Creed, indeed, the absence even of the Apostles Creed at many services, created a vacuum, and my ideas concerning the relationship of the divine persons were incorrect (although, an online quiz linked to from a Christian forum in 2005 entitled Are you a heretic? did say my beliefs were “100% Chalcedon-Compliant.”
So it is good to see one of our premiere theologians taking on this vital subject. N.T. Wright has done a lot of good work. He, along with Pope Benedict and Fr. John Behr, I thunk will be remembered the great theologians of our era (Dr. David Bentley Hart also had a major shot at it until he put his foot right down his throat and went full-on Universalist, but his takedown of Richard Dawkins in Atheist Delusions remains epic; I would call him the Origen of our time).
"Dr. David Bentley Hart also had a major shot at it until he put his foot right down his throat and went full-on Universalist",
Do you suppose God could ever be a 'full on' universalist or might He have limitations?
Thomas Edward Gordon. And he happens to be styled Metropolitan Archbishop of the Orthodox Anglican Communion.
A point of order. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of All England and the Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury.
In the Anglican Communion all bishops are equal, as in Orthodoxy. An archdiocese does not differ from a diocese other than in name. Likewise an archbishop does not possess powers a bishop would not. In the Church of England the dioceses are grouped into two provinces: Canterbury and York. The archbishops of the sees of the same name are the metropolitans of their province. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of All England and has certain primatial powers, which were mostly granted by the Bishop of Rome prior to the Reformation.
Our westerly neighbour the Church in Wales has only dioceses and the whole of Wales is one province. They elect one of their diocesan bishops to be the Archbishop of Wales, while retaining his current see, and to exercise the metropolitcal power.
Our more northerly neighbour, the Episcopal Church of Scotland also has no archdioceses. The diocesan bishops elect one of their number to be the Primus (that's not a spelling error) but I believe he has no metropolitical power.
I think (I've not double checked prior to writing this) the Anglican Church of Ireland has two provinces, each with one archdiocese whose archbishop is the metropolitan of the province. The Archbishop of Armagh is the Primate of All Ireland. I do not know if he has some primatial powers similar to the Archbishop of Canterbury or if it is merely a title he holds.
A question for you. Am I right in understanding that archbishops and metropolitans are different in Orthodoxy depending on whether the church is of the Greek of Slavonic tradition?
Does anyone else see the irony in that? Utilizing powers granted by someone whose authority to grant powers you no longer recognize....
Yes. Greek Metropolitans are outranked by Archbishops, whereas Russian and Antiochian Archbishops are outranked by Metropolitans. So for example, the primate of the Church of Greece is the Archbishop of Athens; the presiding bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the US is the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. And the Church of Finland, also under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is ruled by an Archbishop, but of the six bishops under him, at least two are Metropolitans.
Conversely, the Antiochians in North America are led by a Meteopolitan (until recently, the late Metropolitan Philip Saliba, who I greatly loved, who became Metropolitan in 1965 on the death of his excellent predeccessor, Metropolitan Anthony Bashir). But usually there is at least one Archbishop under him.
And in Russia, the Provinces have Metropolitans, so Metropolitan Onufriy is Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (not to be confused with the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the EP backed church whose friction with Moscow has caused a tragic but inevitable schism)l and then there is a Metropolitan of Moscow, a Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, a Metropolitan of Japan (the Orthodox Church of Japan is part of the Russian Orthodox Church).
ROCOR and the OCA also follow in this trend; ROCOR is an autonomous part of the MP since reunification in 2007, and the MP granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America around 1970. Each is led by a Metropolitan, presently, Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral of ROCOR, and Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA. And beneath them are Archbishops.
There is no irony, because the Archbishop of Canterbury was appointed by the Pope of Rome going back to St. Augustine of Canterbury, sent to rebuild the British church and convert the Angles to Christ around 597 by Pope St. Gregory the Diologist, also known as Gregory the Great, who I expect most Anglicans of at least “middle churchmanship” would admire as a good bishop, and who also warned, in advice that was unheeded by his successors, that any bishop who claimed universal jurisdiction was a precursor of the Antichrist.
Since the Popes had started claiming universal jurisdiction, and since the first Archbishop of Canterbury was appointed by a Pope who gave instructions indicating such Popes were precursors of the Antichrist, it makes perfect sense that the Church of England severed communion with Rome, because to do otherwise would be to disobey the instructions of the very Pope who re-established the Orthodox-Catholic British Church, which had been scattered and fallen into disarray, confusion and heresy after the Roman Empire lost control of the province of Britannia. In fact, one could say the Church of England had a moral obligation to break away, because the instructions of the church fathers and their canons are along with sacred Scripture, the means of evaluating the performance of bishops.
This same principle also justifies ACNA bishops who have broken away from TEC.
First of all, that is not an example of irony. But as we Limeys know you Yanks don't get irony.
Yes, the Archbishops of Canterbury do exercise powers that they were awarded by the Bishop of Rome when that See acknowledged Rome's authority. However, retaining the powers probably just saved the bother of getting the Supreme Governor of the Church of England to award them. I suppose in a way Old Hank and his successors did award them, or at least, did not withdraw them.
Of course, we are at it in all manner of other offices. Our Sovereign uses a title granted to Henry VIII by the Bishop of Rome for his defence of the seven sacraments: Defender of the Faith. Indeed a contraction of the Latin Fidei Defensor appears surrounding The Queen's image on our coinage: 'Elizabeth II D.G. REG. F.D.' (Elizabeth II Deo Gratias Regina Fidei Defensor).
I’m a Yank and ironically enough, I find myself extremely tuned into ironic contradictions. Indeed the entire charm of your green and pleasant land (an ironic phrase to be sure at this time of year) is the great irony. My favorite place in London is riding on a Bakerloo Line carriage (which will cease to be my favorite mode of transport when they replace them in the near future), precisely because of the distilled irony. Its thrilling, yet the passengers are miserable, and I can remember being on that line in 2000 at age 14, when there were rats in the “dead man’s pit” in between the two inner rails, and people would feed them. I also find the name of the line hilarious, and it is even funnier no one else seems to notice this. The “Drain”, the Waterloo and City Line, is not hilarious; the name is obvious and packing hundreds of disgruntled bankers into a single train on a single track railway for a rather too lengthy trip between Bank and Waterloo or vice versa, is not ironic, but mere sarcasm. The Vic is too overcrowded to be funny.
There are a few authors and artists who taught me to appreciate irony; the French mime/cinema auteur Jacques Tati, the American writer Paul Theroux, who has alas been eclipsed in fame by his English-raised son Louis (but there is a slight irony, bordering on sarcasm, to see the scion of a famous American author from Boston who now lives in Hawaii traveling through the US as though it is an alien land, surreal and devoid of the logic and order that characterizes Britain), and of course Pierre Boulle. But it was indeed Paul Theroux, an American, whose writings taught me the subtleties of irony, and how to differentiate rich irony from crude sarcasm. And thus now I take my irony like sardines: chilled, salty, and on an appropriately tasty cracker with a mushroom and pickled chili garnish that I may avoid causing insult to the digestion, ever fragile in my case, if one of the sardines was not brilliantly executed.
If you propose to list every instance where a British tradition is ironic, we’re going to be here for what you would call, were we having this conversation in the 1920s, rather a long time. The ceremonies of the City of London and the House of Lords alone would take two months, the House of Commons, twice as long, because in recent years recent speakers have spoilt it by pulling back the curtain on its mysteries, for example, the tradition of using Prayer Cards to reserve seats, and the members facing the walls during prayers (allegedly, but since the Gallery is empty during prayers, we cannot confirm this; I have often wondered if Prayers are abused for the purpose of delivering secret briefings to Parliament on matters of state security, but that is the sort of American fantasy which collapses when we look at the high profile headquarters of MI-6 and their former premises, which was just as easily recognizable, and devoid in its case of any precautions against people peering in the windows with a telescope and parabolic microphones).
@Liturgyworks I read the entirety of Gregory the Great's correspondence with Augustine of Canterbury today. I thought you might find this quotation interesting, in light of your previous question about Metropolitans:
And, since the new Church of the Angli has been brought to the grace of Almighty God through the bountifulness of the same Lord and thy labours, we grant to thee the use of the pallium therein for the solemnization of mass only, so that thou mayest ordain; bishops in twelve several places, to be subject to thy jurisdiction, with the view of a bishop of the city of London being always consecrated in future by his own synod, and receiving the dignity of the pallium from this holy and Apostolical See which by the grace of God I serve. Further, to the city of York we desire thee to send a bishop whom thou mayest judge fit to be ordained; so that, if this same city with the neighbouring places should receive the word of God, he also may ordain twelve bishops, so as to enjoy the dignity of a metropolitan: for to him also, if our life is continued, we propose, with the favour of God, to send a pallium but yet we desire to subject him to the control of thy Fraternity. But after thy death let him be over the bishops whom he shall have ordained, so as to be in no wise subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop of London. Further, between the bishops of London and York in the future let there be this distinction of dignity, that he be accounted first who has been first ordained.
Not ironic at the moment. Yes, the deciduous trees have shed their leaves but for the most part it is still quite green. Greener that it ought to be. This is partly due to the unseasonably high temperatures and, of course, the rain. We are always complaining about the rain in Britain. However, were it not for our plentiful precipitation we would not be so green. I count myself lucky that although I live in a metropolis (not at all green nor pleasant) I do live on its outer edge and the view from my garden and rear windows is of fields and trees.
Comparatively speaking, yes. Blackheath for instance I can attest is green at this time of year. But the countryside viewed from above has large brown areas which are verdant even in the midst of summer, whereas I can you to large chunks of the US where it is always brown.