Mr. Nicolson's fine book
These are the first of a few goodies I’ll be posting from Adam Nicolson’s book God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, of which I posted a brief review (really just a few observations) here.
“James himself would be quite open to an examination of the theological basis of the Church of England. It was one of his areas of expertise and he was relaxed and even intrigued by the idea of discussing doctrine and the form of church ceremonial. He had been brawling with the Scottish Presbyterians on these subjects for years.” (38)
“But now in the summer and autumn of 1603, the existence of a Protestant state church made the Puritans’ task extremely tender. Precisely because the head of the church was also the head of state, it was critical for their cause to separate theological questions from political. They had to establish themselves as politically loyal even while asking for changes to the state religion and the form of the state church. . . . The Puritans were teetering along a narrow rock ledge and they wrapped their suggestions in swathes of submissive cotton wool.” (38 – 9) Continue reading →
Benedict XVI with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey
Any headline involving the words “Oxford professor” (turns out it’s a church history professor, too!) and “hissy fit” has me intrigued, to say the least. Add the fact that I had no idea what an “Ordinariate” is, and I jumped right on this article from the London Telegraph’s blogsite. But first, to understand that oddball (to me) term, I had to read another article, about Church of England bishops jumping ship to become Roman Catholic:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to announce this week that two Church of England bishops are becoming Roman Catholics. Continue reading →
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. When the debate about Jesus’ divinity first hit the streets of Alexandria, the Emperor Constantine saw the handwriting on the wall (perhaps literally, if he came across some of that theological graffiti!). He said to himself, “This empire isn’t going to fall apart on my watch!” And so he called together a giant council of the church at his summer palace in Nicea (Nicea is now a town called Iznik, in Turkey—and sadly for us historians, there’s nothing left of that palace). Constantine was doing, on a larger scale, what the church had always done in its first three hundred years when a crucial matter like this came up. He called on the bishops—that is, the teaching pastors of key churches—to come together.
The point was not to have these top pastors get all creative and brilliant and make up some new doctrine that everyone would have to follow from then on. No, since the beginning, the bishops in the church had had only one main function, and everyone understood it. The job of each bishop—and especially of all the bishops together—was simple: they were expected to faithfully pass on the teachings of the Apostles. Continue reading →
Baptists and bishops have historically gone together like, well, oil and water. But now that’s starting to change in some black Baptist churches.
“I think we see this emergence in spiritual leadership from a people who have known oppression,’’ Borders said. “It’s a self-identification that we’re gaining; it’s a valuing of our own leadership.”
And in some cases now symbolic garb and elaborate rituals are accompanying the title. That’s now possible because the 400-year-old fear of an all-powerful hierarchy has faded into a distant memory, and it now feels “safer to borrow and reappropriate historic practices that once were considered to be theologically problematic,’’ said James Farwell, professor of religious studies at Bethany College in West Virginia.
The title is increasingly being used more formally in African-American Baptist churches, where the practice of calling senior pastors bishops has been unusual. African-American Baptist ministers have historically been powerful figures in their communities and pillars of their congregations; some see the title as a recognition of that role.
The whole article, in today’s Boston Globe, can be read here.