Passion Sunday: Little Words, Insignificant Phrases — A Homily on John 11:1-44

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11:25, ESV throughout unless otherwise noted).

Steven Spielberg, one of the most acclaimed directors of modern cinema, wanted John Williams, one of the most acclaimed composers for modern cinema, to score the film Schindler’s List. Spielberg screened a rough cut of the film — absent music, of course — for Williams. Here, in Williams’ own words, is what happened next:

Spielberg showed me the film … I couldn’t speak to him. I was so devastated. Do you remember, the end of the film was the burial scene in Israel — Schindler — it’s hard to speak about. I said to Steven, “You need a better composer than I am for this film.” He said to me, “I know. But they’re all dead” (, accessed 2/28/2023).

As I stand before the Gospel today, as I have been immersed again in this devastatingly human story of Lazarus and Martha and Mary and Jesus, I find it hard to speak. We are confronted by the confounding wisdom of God and the joy producing sorrow of death and resurrection, and I know this: you need a better preacher than I am for this sermon. They are not all dead, but this passage beggars everyone of them, everyone of us, still living. So, I pray, and I speak:

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Amen.

There are grand movements in this story that compel our attention. And yet, I find myself drawn to smaller things, to little details —a word here, a phrase there: now, so, if, come and see, come out. These are the little words and the seemingly insignificant phrases that frame my life, that define my experience: perhaps yours, too? The story starts now.

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha (John 11:1).

Now. This isn’t just a word of transition from one chapter or one story to the next or even just a routine marker of time. It is the sleep-shattering clanging of the village church bell in the middle of the night heralding some imminent disaster — fire, flood, invasion — something that requires immediate action. And that is exactly what we expect from this story, what we expect from Jesus: immediate action. Now a certain man was ill. Wake up. Do something — now.

Notice that now is paired with so. Now a certain man was ill…so the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Now and so are literary bookends, a cause and effect pair. There is an immediate, urgent need — nowso the sisters send for Jesus. This message they sent to Jesus is their prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, come. Now.

How often prayer is like that: now, so. Now the ambulance is on the way to the emergency room. Now the bills are overdue and there is no money to pay them. Now the water is rising and the forecast calls for nothing but rain for days. Now my daughter slammed the door behind her and I have no idea where she’s going, when or if she’ll return. Now my wife says she doesn’t love me anymore and she wants a divorce. Now the neighborhood lies flattened and scattered by the tornado. Troubles, when they come, always come now. So, we pray:

O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Now is the time of our trouble, so, come quickly, Lord. Now. So.

Lest we miss this pairing of now and so in the text, it follows again immediately.

John 11:5–6 (ESV): 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

As before, now is not just a literary transition, not just a marker of time. As it’s used here, now is emphatic. In A Christmas Carol Dickens wrote emphatically:

There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave I).

That is how now is used here in the Gospel. In this little word now, St. John emphasizes, “There is no doubt that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he immediately rushed to Bethany. That’s what we would expect, isn’t it? That’s how we would write the story, given free literary rein to do so. But that’s not the Gospel. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, so he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Because he loved them, he delayed two days: two agonizing days for Martha and Mary as they watched their brother decline, two confusing days as they waited for word from Jesus or watched for him to rush breathless through their door to take Lazarus by the hand and raise him up. And nothing.

How often prayer is like that — now, so: urgency, agonizing delay, confusion. One we love, one our Lord loves, is ill, and we pray; oh, do we pray. And nothing. The situation moves from bad to worse. One we love, one our Lord loves, turns his back on the faith, and we pray. And nothing. He moves farther and farther away, his heart growing ever harder. This world we love, this world the Lord loves, descends into madness, and we pray. And nothing. Disasters come one after another, wars and conflicts increase, cultures disintegrate. And nothing, or so it seems.

St. John wants us to understand distinctly that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, and precisely because of his love he stayed where he was for two days. If we don’t understand that, nothing wonderful comes from this story, from this difficult story. And St. John wants us to understand distinctly that Jesus loves us, that Jesus loves those whom we love, that Jesus loves this world that was made by him and through him and for him. If we don’t understand that, nothing wonderful comes from our story, from our often difficult story. Now the dark days come, and so we pray. And nothing, or so it seems. But, it’s not nothing; far from it. Jesus wasn’t idly or callously twiddling his thumbs during those two day of waiting. St. John parts the curtains a bit later to show us that Jesus spent those days — and certainly the days of his travel to Bethany — praying: God the Son interceding to God the Father on behalf of those whom he loved, interceding that his Father would do for Martha and her sister and Lazarus better things than they could ask or imagine. If Jesus delays in answering our prayers now, it is because he loves us. It is because he is interceding for us at the right hand of the Father, asking for and preparing us for grace beyond our feeble power to comprehend.

There is a final now/so pairing in the story, this one after the death of Lazarus and before his rising again.

John 11:17 (ESV): 17 Now when Jesus came (to Bethany), he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

John 11:20 (ESV): 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

What does now mean here, I wonder. Ask Martha and she might say, “finally,” or “it’s about time,” or, most likely, “too little, too late.” So, she went and met Jesus. Taken together, this now/so pair ushers us into the presence of the most poignant word in the story: if.

John 11:21 (ESV): 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

We know exactly what if means here because we have all experienced it and we have all said it or thought it. If expresses regret, opportunities lost or squandered, potential unfulfilled, roads not taken. If looks backwards. If longs for a do-over. If imagines a different — and far better — present and future. If is a fantasy, maybe even a lie. If asks us — beckons us — to trade the real present for the imaginary past and unrealizable future; but it is seductive, and we can easily lose ourselves in it. Who among us has no regrets? Who among us has never said of past choices, “If only I had”? Who among us has never pointed the finger at God and said, “If only you had…”?

This if of Martha is repeated by her sister Mary a bit later. And, there is a final if spoken by Jesus; we must save that for the proper time. Between the ifs of the sisters and the if of Jesus there is a classic bit of Johannine dialogue in which Jesus and Martha talk right past one another, Jesus saying one thing and Martha hearing another.

“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus says. Martha hears only a pious, funeral home platitude, Jesus singing “When We All Get To Heaven” to lessen the pain of her brother’s death. “(Yes, yes) I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. (We all will. We all believe that.),” Martha responds. And right here at this point, though John doesn’t write it in the text explicitly, there hangs in the air between Jesus and Martha another short if phrase, perhaps the most important one in the story: What if? What if the resurrection is not just an event, not primarily an event, but rather a person? What if, in the person of Jesus, the resurrection on the last day is brought forward into the present, God’s future appearing now? What if resurrection is here today, not in its fullness, but as a sign pointing toward the fulfillment to come? What if new creation could break into this sin-impregnated, death-filled world now?

John 11:25–26 (ESV): 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

What if all that is true? What if Martha believes it? What if we believe it? What if St. Paul is right?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ — new creation (2 Cor 5:17a, author’s translation)!

If anyone is in Christ, new creation has broken forth. Resurrection has overtaken death. Eternal life is here and now. None of this fully yet, of course, but there are signs of it everywhere, the mysterious already/not yet signposts of the kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated. We need not wait for the last day. The one who was, and is, and is to come says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Now. So. What if?

Martha answers Jesus, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” If she believes it at all, I think she believes it like I do some days, like many of us do from time to time: feebly, hoping against hope that it is true, believing it because there is absolutely nothing better to hold on to, no other words of life on offer.

After speaking with both sisters, Jesus asks where the tomb is. The answer is another of these meaning-packed short phrases: come and see. Come, Jesus, come and see the reality of the human condition. Come and look death in the face. Come and weep with us, as if this one who speaks so loftily about resurrection and life needs to be brought down to earth, as if the one who warned Adam and Eve that on the day they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die doesn’t know what that means or looks like. Come and see what the real world looks like, Jesus. And Jesus wept at all this: wept for the disobedience in the Garden, wept for the sin of Cain, wept for the tower of Babel and the flood, wept for slavery in Egypt and in every land, wept for forty years wandering in the wilderness, wept for the glory of Israel squandered, wept for the exile, wept for the death of Lazarus and the death of all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, wept for his own death to come. The theological arguments for a dispassionate God melt away in the flood of tears that Jesus, God the Son, wept on this day. But his tears are not the final words; nor are ours. There is more to come.

I told you earlier that there was another if to come. “If you had been here” was the first. “What if” was the second. Now, for the third and final.

John 11:38–40 (ESV): 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Martha doesn’t seem to know quite what to believe. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world? Yes, but what does that have to do with her brother Lazarus who is four days dead and well along toward decay? That Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Yes, I suppose, but what does that have to do with the stench that will waft from the tomb if the stone is removed? But Jesus knows what one has to do with the others. Jesus knows because he has been praying for just this moment, praying for days. Did I not tell you if you believe, you will see the glory of God? If you believe.

John 11:41 (ESV): 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”

This is so subtle that we will miss this bit of glory if we blink, if we do not pause to sniff the air around us. The stone is taken away and there is no odor, no mention or whiff of putrefaction. And Jesus thanks his Father that he has heard his prayers, the prayers that he has been praying since receiving word of Lazarus’ illness, that it would not be unto death and decay but rather for the glory of God.

If you believe you will see the glory of God. That’s the final if in this story. And don’t we need that word of assurance? Someone, something, some dream we hold dear is sick and dying. We have sent for Jesus and he hasn’t come. Things are going from bad to worse and the end is in sight. Still, no Jesus. What is he doing? Why is he waiting? He is praying, interceding for us at God’s right hand, preparing for us a weight of glory that will bring us to our knees in praise and thanksgiving. Has he not told us? If we believe, we will see the glory of God.

And now we stand at the climax of the story, at that point when all the little words, all the seemingly insignificant phrases come together to reveal the grand truth that we have been waiting for: now, so, what if, come and see.

Standing at the open tomb in the fresh air, Jesus cries with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had died came out.

Come and see the reality of death, the people had said just moments ago. Come out and see the glory of God, Jesus shouts now. Come out and see the sign of the coming defeat of death. Come out and see the resurrection and the life. Come out and see the inbreaking of the kingdom of God — already and not yet.

And with this, all the little words, the seemingly insignificant phrases have been spoken: now, so, what if, come and see, come out. Jesus’ disciples will need all these little words and phrases soon. He and they are standing a mere two miles and a few days from his own betrayal, from his own death, from his own tomb. And his disciples will say all these little words and phrases in a thousand different ways: now, so, if, come and see. And God the Father himself will say the final phrase: come out. And the man who had died will come out.

Like the disciples, I need this story. When troubles come now and Jesus loves me so much that he waits and prays before answering my prayers, when I am lost in regret-filled what ifs and accusatory “if you had been here”s, when I am so certain that God does not understand my plight that I cry out “Come and see!” I need this story. I need to hear Jesus say, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” I need to hear Jesus cry, “Come out!” Perhaps you do, too.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.


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CONFIRMATION: Session 3 — Creeds

Christian Essentials / Anglican Distinctives
Session 3: Creeds

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

Now, let’s affirm our faith in the words of the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

I spent the first four decades of my life in a non-creedal church. The Creeds were foreign to our faith and practice. It is not only that we did not say the Creeds; we were opposed to Creeds of any kind. We did not know them or use them or even think about them. Our statement about Creeds was simple: No Creed but Christ. It is not that we disagreed with any of the statements in the Apostles Creed, for example; taken one by one, we would have affirmed each. Our refusal to use the Creeds in corporate worship was not a doctrinal issue. It is more that we felt the Creeds were superfluous and possibly divisive. We have Christ. We have the Bible. Why do we need man-made statements of faith not found in Scripture?

How would you answer those objections to the Creeds? Why are the Creeds important?

In a previous session, we spoke of the confession of the Creeds by the ACNA and of the role they play in our commitment to the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church. The Fundamental Declarations state this:

We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.

By way of review, let me emphasize three points from this declaration.

First, the Creeds accord fully with Scripture; they seek only to express succinctly the fundamental truths of Scripture — and particularly of the Gospel — and to defend those truths against persistent heresies that plagued the early Church, heresies which are still around today.

Second, the faith expressed in the Creeds is the common “possession” of the undivided Church. In that way, the creedal content serves as a continuing force for unity amidst our current sad divisions and as a touchstone of historical orthodoxy. If a church rejects the contents of the Creeds, then it renounces its claim to be part of the historic church. It is in this sense that the Nicene Creed is also called the Symbol (σύμβολον) of the Faith. As “symbol” is used in that context, it means something like a ticket for admission or a claim check or perhaps better still a token of belonging. You’ve seen heart necklaces where the heart is broken in two top to bottom in a zigzag pattern so that the two pieces fit together? Each person receives one half of the heart as a token of being a member of the special relationship the heart implies. Each piece is a symbol, a token/proof of that belonging, of that membership. The Nicene Creed functions that way in the Church. Those who have it (the Creed) — and by “have it” I mean believe it — belong to the one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church; the Creed is their symbol/token of belonging.

Third, there are three Creeds which function as symbols and deposits of the historic faith: the Apostles’ Creed (which Anglicans use as the baptismal and catechetical creed and in daily Morning and Evening Prayer), the Nicene Creed (which Anglicans use as the Eucharistic creed), and the Athanasian Creed (which Anglicans rarely use liturgically, but which functions as the best expression of our understanding of the Trinity). While we consider these three creeds as expressing the faith of the undivided Church, only one of them, The Nicene Creed, is used in both the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman and Anglican) churches. That is why it is called the Symbol of the Faith.

Since the Apostles’ Creed is most frequently used for catechetical instruction in the Western Church, it will be our primary focus, though we will compare it to and contrast it with the Nicene Creed, as well. I will leave the Athanasian Creed for your reading and reflection. Remember that all confirmands are expected to know the Apostles’ Creed: to be able to recite it and to discuss its meaning.

The Apostles’ Creed
The Apostles’ Creed may be found in the BCP on pages 26 and 40 and in the ACNA Catechism on pages 31-32. This Creed is found only in the Western Church: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and various Protestant Churches.

Simply looking at the format/structure of the Creed, what do you notice?

First, there are three Articles, one dedicated to each Person of the Trinity. This creed, in both its format and content, is trinitarian — perhaps not as explicitly so as the Nicene Creed and certainly not in the level of detail as the Athanasian Creed, but fully and overtly trinitarian nonetheless.

Second, each Article begins with an individual statement of faith: Credo in the original Latin of the Creed and I believe in English. Contrast this with the opening of the three stanzas of the Nicene Creed — a corporate statement of faith: Πιστεύομεν in the original Greek and We believe in English. What might explain the difference between the individual and corporate emphases in the Creeds? Think of how the Creeds are used liturgically: baptism (Apostles’ Creed) versus Eucharist (Nicene Creed). In baptism, one expresses an individual/personal commitment to the corporate faith of the Church. In the Eucharist, the whole Church — on earth and in heaven — proclaims the common faith that brings us together around the table. This is, I believe, a valid theological emphasis. But, to be thorough, I should note that some churches — even the Episcopal Church up through the BCP 1928 — opens the Nicene Creed with I believe, a change to the original text. Personally, I am glad that the ACNA returned to the original corporate language, though some individual still prefer the singular, personal language.

I believe in God…
We start the Creed by saying, “I believe.” What do we mean when we say that? Certainly we mean that we acknowledge the truth of the statements that follow; to believe is to assent intellectually. But, that is not nearly enough as St. James makes clear:

James 2:19–26 (ESV): 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

So, belief has to be more than mere assent to truth, or we are no better than the demons! Belief is a commitment to a life based on and reflecting the truth to which we assent. The Creed, in this sense, functions as a vow; I will live my life in accordance with this faith I express through the Creed. The Creed shouldn’t be said lightly; it is more akin to saying “I do” in marriage than “I love you” while dating.

What do we claim to believe in first? God — a word always requiring clarification. There were many gods when the Creed was written and there are many gods now. To which of these gods do we give our allegiance? To the triune God: the Father, whom no man has seen or can see; the Son who is the perfect image of the Father and who makes the Father known; and the Holy Spirit who is the presence of God within us and within the Church. That understanding of God is what the Creed unpacks for us.

This first Article in the Creed addresses the first Person of the Trinity, God the Father almighty. In what most basic sense is God the Father? He is the creator of heaven and earth. The Nicene Creed expands on that to say that the Father is the “maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, visible and invisible” (BCP 2019, p. 109). Even the Son is eternally begotten of the Father and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (ibid). The Athanasian Creed goes to great lengths to clarify this:

The Father is made of none,
neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone,
not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son,
neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding (BCP 2019, p. 770).

So, while the Son and the Holy Spirit are co-equal, co-eternal, consubstantial (of one essence) with the Father, they, in some sense, come from the Father: the Son by being begotten, the Holy Spirit by procession. Here, the Creed simply uses Biblical language without trying to define the difference between begotten and proceeding. In fact, one of the great theologians of the Orthodox Church, St. John of Damascus wrote:

We have learned that there is a difference between begetting and procession, but the nature of the difference we in no wise understand” (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 8-9).

What we can say with certainty, is that the Father is Father by virtue of being the creator of all that was created and by begetting the Son.

But, perhaps more personally and pastorally important, Jesus teaches us to call God the Father “our Father who art in heaven.” We have all had earthly fathers: some good though flawed, some bad, some present, some absent. And we all, despite our differing experiences with fatherhood, have some notion of what a good father should be. Whatever good there may be in human fatherhood is an image-bearing reflection of God the Father almighty. The essence of that might be summarized in the most fundamental characteristic of God: love — willing and in God’s case acting for the good of the other. This Article assures us implicitly that God loves us and that he is always acting for our good and for our salvation. Imagine the opening article of the Creed without the appositive “the Father almighty.” What if it simply said, “I believe in God, creator of heaven and earth”? Then we could only relate to God as creature to Creator, which is vastly different than relating as son or daughter to Father.

I believe in Jesus Christ…
This Article is the most detailed of the three, surely because it is fundamental to the Gospel. It declares Jesus to be both divine, the only Son of God the Father and conceived by God the Holy Spirit, and to be human, born of the Virgin Mary and enduring all the sufferings of human life including death. This Article also roots Jesus and the Gospel in a historical context: not “once upon a time” but during the administration of Pontius Pilate. The Gospel is more than, but not less than, history — events that actually occurred, events which people saw and to which they testified.

The ACNA Catechism has a good discussion of this Article, and I’d like to work through that with you (TBAC, pp. 38-46). For those reading the lesson online, you may find a PDF of the Catechism at the following link:

I believe in the Holy Spirit…
This Article can initially seem like a catch-all statement; everything important that wasn’t mentioned before gets “dumped” in here. But there is theological rhyme and reason to it. Perhaps I can liken it to prayer and the Persons of the Trinity. The fullest theological understanding of prayer is that we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. That is, it is the Person of the Holy Spirit who draws us up into the life of the Trinity, who is our most immediate, Personal point of contact with the divine; the Holy Spirit is God in us, God animating us and giving us life, individually, yes, but corporately, as well, in the Body of Christ. All of that is part and parcel of this third Article of the Creed.

The Apostles’ Creed does not explicitly define the divinity of the Holy Spirit as do the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed; that is, in no small part, why these other creeds are needed. But, the very structure of the Apostles’ Creed implies that the Holy Spirit is one of three divine Persons: one Article for the Father, one for the Son, one for the Holy Spirit.

Let’s turn to the ACNA Catechism, pages 4-55, to review its explanation of this Article.

The Creeds serve several important purposes.

1. They summarize the most essential, non-negotiable doctrines of the faith. They also provide a convenient outline for evangelization.

2. They clarify some of the doctrines of the faith and refute historical (and ever present) heresies related to those doctrines.

3. They provide a symbol of the common faith that transcends place and time. Essentially, they codify the Vincentian Canon: that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.

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To Kiss An Icon


For some twenty years this book has been a favorite traveling companion on the spiritual path. Part spiritual memoir, part travelogue, part poetry, part comedy, it is all treasure. It called to me this Lent, and I answered.

The author begins the book as a confirmed agnostic who saw no validity to traditional religion and especially none to Christianity. His wife had recently converted to Orthodoxy. They find themselves vacationing on Patmos — yes, that Patmos where St. John had the series of visions we call The Revelation — where daily they are surrounded by the culture of Orthodox Christianity. Eventually, they purchase a house there where they lived several months each year.

One evening they end up at the Monastery of Diasozousa where the entire town has gathered for the night service of the Feast of the Dormition (the falling asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary). The monastery houses a wonder-working icon, and the worshipers queue up to kiss it, something that the author has strongly resisted in the past. I quote now from the book:

A long queue of local people was waiting to kiss the wonder-working icon. Not having escaped to the fringes of the crowd, I was pulled in. We shuffled along, and as I chatted with people I knew — the electrician, the grocer, the carpenter, the plumber — I was struck by the fact that these people, practical working men with no very obvious religious slant to their lives, were doing something extremely odd. They were all patiently standing there in their best suits waiting to kiss a painting. What was really going on?

I remembered something that Philip Sherrard, an Orthodox writer whom I admired, had written about Western society’s having lost its way. Materialism had become the creed of the majority, and it was opposed not by the churches but by those who claimed a vague spiritual allegiance or inkling which they insisted had nothing to do with “organized religions.” But Sherrard pointed out that any genuine religious tradition provided for some formal discipline as a means of spiritual realization. He wrote that people who attached themselves to these modern, rather gaseous trends of New Worldism were spiritually inferior to the simple believers who practiced a faith sincerely but with only the slightest knowledge of the metaphysical principles on which it was based.

As we stood in the queue at Diasozousa, I realized that these people, by the simple act of kissing the icon, were rejecting the closed system of materialism in which most people of the West are living today. Even if the act is a formal one, done because everybody does it, to revere an icon is to perform an action which proclaims that the material world is not the end — that there is a spiritual dimension to life which we may not understand and which we may ignore in our daily business of living but which on occasions such as this we can come together and publicly acknowledge. To kiss an icon, to cross oneself, to say “an theli o Theos” (God willing), however perfunctorily or unthinkingly these actions are performed, is to strike a blow at the closed universe of the materialists.

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1 Lent: A Homily on the Temptation of Jesus

Apostles Anglican Church
Fr. John A. Roop

(Gen 2:4-9,15-17, 2:25-3:7; Ps 51; Romans 5:12-21; Matt 4:1-11)

A Homily on Matthew 4:1-11 — Temptation

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt 4:1, ESV).

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

It is not possible to tempt a thief to steal in the same sense that it is possible to tempt a faithful husband to commit adultery. How’s that for an opening line? Let me say it again, because it’s important to what follows. It is not possible to tempt a thief to steal in the same sense that it is possible to tempt a faithful husband to commit adultery.

When a thief sees an unlocked door in an empty house or an unwatched purse at a restaurant, it is not a temptation, but rather an opportunity to do what has, step by step, choice by choice become second nature to him. There is no inner turmoil, no grappling between motives and counter-motives; there may be a quick assessment of risk or of cost-benefit ratio, but there is no real ethical calculus at play, no moral qualms to work through. To steal is to act in accordance with the real identity the thief has forged for himself. A thief may be tempted to return found money, but he cannot be tempted to keep it.

A faithful husband, however, can be tempted to adultery precisely because faithfulness is second nature to him; it lies near the core of his real identity, and even to momentarily contemplate adultery seems to break faith not only with his wife, but with himself and with God. If the temptation is strong, he will grapple with it as Jacob grappled with God at the Jabbok, and he may emerge wounded and limping. But, please God, he will emerge victorious and blessed.

What I’m sketching out here is a notion of temptation as an enticement away from one’s real identity — the identity that is a second nature — and toward a false identity. A thief cannot be tempted to steal because the chance to steal is an merely an opportunity to exercise and express his real identity as thief, an identity that he has forged with the encouragement and help of the evil one. For those who might be concerned with theological nuance, note that I am distinguishing between identity and nature. By nature, the thief is an image-bearer of God; by identity he is, well, a thief. So, the main point remains: temptation is an enticement away from one’s real identity, one’s second nature, and toward a false identity.

Well, that was fun. But does it matter? It must, I think, because it is integral to the text presented us today in Matthew 4, the temptation of Jesus. There is an unfortunate chapter break at the beginning our text, and unfortunately the lectionary submits to it. But the end of the previous chapter must be taken into account as the necessary context for Jesus’ temptation.

Matthew 3:13–17 (ESV): 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is a proclamation of identity, not the creation of identity. The Logos is the eternal Son of God and, at his conception, the man Jesus — his human nature — was taken up into that eternal identity of the Logos. So, Jesus’ baptism is not the creation of identity, but rather the very public proclamation by God the Father that this man standing in the river dripping wet is his beloved Son; it is the very public anointing by God the Holy Spirit of this man Jesus for his ministry to come. It is baptism and confirmation both in one. We do not know how many people heard the voice of God the Father that day or saw God the Holy Spirit descend: relatively few, I would think. But, the proclamation of Jesus’ identity certainly resounded throughout the whole spiritual realm of angels and archangels, of cherubim and seraphim, of demons and fallen powers. Even the devil himself, our ancient foe, took notice. And what was his first response? To tempt Jesus, to entice him away from his true identity to a false identity: “If you are the Son of God,” was the devil’s constant taunt and refrain throughout the temptations — a questioning and challenging of Jesus’ identity.

Brothers and sisters, that is not Jesus’ story only, but yours and mine as well. When the Celebrant immerses the baptismal Candidate or pours water upon the Candidate three times saying, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (BCP 2019, p. 169), that is both the creation of a new identity and the public proclamation of that identity to the people of God gathered and seen and to the spiritual hosts gathered and unseen — angels of light and demons of darkness. And the devil himself, our ancient foe, takes notice. His sure response will be to tempt that newborn or newly commissioned child and servant of God, as he tempted Jesus, to entice that one away from his/her new, real identity to the old, false identity. That is, in part, why we so desperately need this account of Jesus’ temptation; it is a paradigm for everyone who is “sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever” (ibid), a paradigm of temptation and of victory over it.

Matthew 4:1 (ESV): 4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

There is so much to be said about that brief statement, so much to be pondered and prayed. The Spirit who had just descended upon Jesus now leads him into the place and time of temptation. Clarity matters here, as St. James insists:

James 1:13 (ESV): 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

God the Holy Spirit is not tempting Jesus, not enticing Jesus away from his true identity, but is rather providing Jesus the opportunity to exercise that identity, to perfect that identity (cf Heb 5:8-9), to vanquish the devil in the power of that identity. The Holy Spirit does not abandon Jesus in his time of testing, but leads him, guides him, guards him, strengthens him, encourages him. And so the Spirit does for you and for me. The Holy Spirit may lead us into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, but the end of that temptation, the purpose of it, is our salvation and victory, not our downfall. And in the midst of temptation, know that God tempers temptation, limits its scope to that which we can bear:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV): 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure the temptation, and not endure it only, I think, but also to triumph over it. And this way of escape is not a mystery. It is what we see Jesus doing when he found himself in the wilderness of temptation. It is clear in this text and in others throughout the Gospels. It is the way of Lenten practice. It is the way of the spiritual disciplines, not for Lent only, but for the whole of the Christian life: fasting, prayer, Scripture.

Matthew 4:2 (ESV): 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Fasting: I fear that I misunderstood this passage for most of my adult life, until I began to take fasting seriously and to listen carefully to what the saints had been saying for two millennia. We read of a forty day fast and immediately think of how weak and vulnerable that must have made Jesus, how susceptible to temptation. But that is — and I say this with all reverence and sincerity — that is devilish thinking, because it is apparently what the devil himself thought. How little the devil as an incorporeal (unbodied) spirit can know about the grace of God ministered incarnationally through the union of human body and soul. How little can he understand that the weakness of the body can strengthen and steel the soul and spirit. Jesus did not fast to make himself weak, but to make himself strong for battle. As St. Gregory the Great wrote, “It is impossible to engage in spiritual conflict, without the previous subjugation of the appetite.” Yes, Jesus’ body was hungry, but his soul was full. Yes, his body was weak, but his spirit was strong. Ironically, the devil tempts Jesus with bread, thinking him weak from fasting. Jesus responds with the word of God showing himself strong from fasting.

It is neither incidental nor unimportant that fasting is a traditional Lenten practice. It is neither incidental nor unimportant that the early church observed Wednesdays and Fridays as regular fast days throughout the year (Didachē). It is neither incidental nor unimportant that the Desert Fathers and Mothers made fasting a foundational spiritual discipline. Fasting is preparation for battle; fasting is armor and weapon in the midst of battle.

The proclamation of Jesus’ identity and the descent of the Holy Spirit were the context and impetus for Jesus’ temptation. Fasting was his preparation for temptation. But, not fasting only. Hear these words from St. Mark’s Gospel:

Mark 1:35 (ESV): 35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

We miss the connection in our English translations between this verse and St. Matthew’s description of the temptation locale. “Desolate place” in St. Mark and “wilderness” in St. Matthew are the same word. Jesus goes to the wilderness to pray; that was his practice. So, it is no stretch to say — and, in fact, I think it is only reasonable to say — that when the Spirit led Jesus up to the wilderness, to the desolate place, to be tempted, there Jesus prayed. The forty days of fasting were forty days of fasting and prayer. What might Jesus have prayed? We need look no further than the Psalms — the Jewish Book of Common Prayer, the Hebrew Hymnal. Can you hear Jesus praying these Psalms in the wilderness preparing for the temptation to come or in the midst of temptation present?

Psalm 1:1–2 (ESV): 1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 3:1–4, 7a (ESV): 1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!

Psalm 4:1–4, 8 (ESV): 1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

It is neither incidental nor unimportant that prayer — not least praying the Psalms — is a traditional Lenten practice. It is neither incidental nor unimportant that the early church embraced the Psalms whole heartedly, incorporating them into prayer and liturgy. It is neither incidental nor unimportant that the Psalms were the very breath of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. St. Augustine said, “He who sings prays twice.” It is no wonder the devil cowers and trembles when God’s people sing the Psalms, pray the Psalms, breathe the Psalms.

Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Jesus prayed in the wilderness. Jesus immersed himself in Scripture in the wilderness, the Word of God incarnate feasting on the word of God written. We know this because every response of Jesus to the devil’s temptation was a word of Scripture. Jesus did not depend upon his own human strength, his own human cleverness, his own human will to overcome the devil; he simply refuted and rebuffed the devil with the word of God: not the twisted word, the distorted word that the evil one offered, but the true, the pure word of God as received from the Holy Spirit. As the Psalmist writes:

9 How shall a young man cleanse his way?*
By ruling himself according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought you;*
O let me not go astray from your commandments.
11 Your words have I hidden within my heart,*
that I may not sin against you (Ps 119:9-11, BCP 2019).

It is neither incidental nor unimportant that reading and reflecting on Scripture is a traditional Lenten practice. It is neither incidental nor unimportant that at the heart of the Book of Common Prayer lies the regular, daily reading of the whole of Scripture in the context of prayer, Psalmody, and worship. It is neither incidental nor unimportant that St. Paul identifies the word of God as the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:7), the spiritual weapon with which to strike down the enemy and his temptations.

When temptation came to Jesus, when temptation comes to us, it comes as a spiritual attack. Temptation is not a sin; it is an assault. In Jesus’ case, it was an assault from without, from the devil, since in Christ there is no darkness. In our case, it may be without from the devil, or within from our own unruly passions of body, mind, and spirit. Regardless of the source, it is what we do with the assault that determines whether it progresses to sin. We must follow the way of our Lord; we must do as he did in the wilderness, do as the saints for two millennia have taught us. Jesus did not engage with the temptation, did not ponder it or reflect upon it. He did not entertain an extended debate with the devil. Jesus simply refuted the temptation with God’s word. As the Desert Fathers tell us, we cannot keep flies from buzzing around our heads, but we do not need to let them light there. We cannot prevent the assaults of the devil, but we dare not let them linger; we dare not engage them. St. Ignatius recommends a three-fold strategy of watchfulness and action. First, become aware that something is stirring spiritually. Second, understand it for what it is. Third, accept it if from God or reject it if from the devil. Awareness is key. The Desert Fathers and Mothers called this awareness nepsis or watchfulness. It is placing a guard over the senses, a watchman over the mind and heart to prevent temptation from penetrating our spiritual defenses. Be careful what you watch. Be careful what you listen to. Be careful where you go. Be careful what you think about and imagine and dwell on:

1 Peter 5:8–9a (ESV): 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith.

If one temptation does not induce you to sin, know that another will soon follow. We do not know the full extent of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness; three temptations are given us as a summary of the wiles of the devil: three enticements away from Jesus’ true identity, three seductions of the world, the flesh, and the devil as symbolic of all temptations. We do not know the full extent of Jesus’ temptations, but we do know how they ended. Jesus rebuked the tempter: “Be gone, Satan!” Near the end of his ministry, Jesus said a similar thing when tempted by Satan through the human agency of Peter: “Get behind me, Satan.” And we read this somewhat cryptic but powerful word in Jude:

Jude 9 (ESV): 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Be gone, Satan. Get behind me, Satan. The Lord rebuke you. What powerful responses to temptation, what potent weapons against temptation and the tempter these few words are. They should become part of our vocabulary of spiritual warfare. Our foe is ancient. Our foe knows us better than we know ourselves. We dare not trust in ourselves, in our own devices, but rather in the power and the authoritative word of the Lord: Be gone, Satan. Get behind me, Satan. The Lord rebuke you.

Jesus’ identity was declared at his baptism, and temptation surely followed. And now, we find our identity in him; it was created and proclaimed in baptism. And temptation surely follows. Fasting, prayer, Scripture, watchfulness, and a word of rebuke spoken in the power of the Spirit: these were the weapons Jesus used to vanquish the tempter and his temptations, the same proven weapons that are commended by and bequeathed to us in Scripture and in the great tradition of the Church. May we wield them well to the glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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CONFIRMATION: Session 2 — Apostolic Lineage of Archbishop Foley Beach

For the research leading to and the publication of the following chart of Apostolic Lineage we are indebted to the Reverend Canon Wes Jagoe; his work is a gift to the ACNA and thus to the one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.

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CONFIRMATION: Session 2 — Authority (Scripture, Creeds, Councils, Bishops)

Fr. John A. Roop

Christian Essentials / Anglican Distinctives
Session 2: Authority — Scripture, Creeds, Councils, Bishops

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

For A Province Or Diocese
O God, by your grace you have called us in this Province and Diocese to be a good and godly fellowship of faith. Bless our Archbishop and Bishop Foley, our Assisting Bishop Frank, and other clergy, and all our people. Grant that your Word may be truly preached and truly heard, your Sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received. By your Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your Son, and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Introduction: The Question of Authority
One of the most notable characteristics of this post-modern culture in which we live is the distrust and rejection of, and even the rebellion against authority. This was clearly manifest on 6 January 2022 in the assault on the Capitol, in recent calls to defund the police, in the suspicion directed toward the Supreme Court, in distrust of news outlets — essentially everywhere we turn. The older structures that used to speak truth to us, that used to rightly order our lives we now suspect of manipulative propaganda — we don’t know where to look for truth — and rampant self-interest at our expense. Educational systems seem to deconstruct truth more than search for it and teach it. Political systems seem more engaged in internal struggles for power than in right governing and public service. Our judiciary and legal systems seem to fail as often as not to impartially administer justice. Our churches seem rife with scandal, false doctrine, and cultural pandering. It may always have been so in every generation, more or less. This is neither the best of times nor the worst of times; it is simply our time, and we see its flaws because they affect us.

Still, the question confronts us as it does those in every generation: what are the reliable sources of truth and authority? How do we know what to believe and how to rightly order our lives, and to whose authority we may/must rightly submit? These question arise not only in regard to civil society but also pertaining to matters of the spirit.

As Anglicans, we have answers for those questions. The Fundamental Declarations of the Province answer them, in part for our Province (ACNA).

ACNA Fundamental Declarations of the Province

We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him. Therefore, the Anglican Church in North America identifies the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:

1. We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.

2. We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

3. We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.

4. We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.

5. Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.

6. We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.

7. We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

In all these things, the Anglican Church in North America is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain as the Anglican Way has received them the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ.

So, back to our questions. Based on the Fundamental Declarations, what are the reliable sources of truth and authority in the Christian life? How do we know what to believe and how to rightly order our lives, and to whose authority we may/must rightly submit? [Let the class examine the Fundamental Declarations and discuss the answers they provide.]

Holy Scripture
Holy Scripture is the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life. Even as we say that, it must be nuanced in light of Jesus’ own claim:

Matthew 28:18 (ESV): 18 And Jesus came and said to [the disciples], “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

So, when we say that Holy Scripture is the final authority we don’t mean that Scripture has an authority independent of or superseding Christ’s authority. Instead we mean that Jesus’ ultimate authority over all things is mediated to the Church in and through the Scriptures. Scripture is one way — orthodox Anglicans go so far as to say it is the primary way — in which Christ exercises his authority in the world.

The ACNA Catechism, To Be A Christian (TBAC), expands on this notion in a series of questions and answers.

[Review To Be A Christian, Questions 25-35, pages 32-35.]

The Reformed Churches are known for their insistence upon five sola statements: sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fides, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria. It is the first of these — sola scriptura, Scripture alone, that concerns us here. In its popular connotation, this statement is often misconstrued as a “me and my Bible” attitude. I don’t need anyone else to tell me what to believe; I can sit down by myself — just me and my Bible — and understand everything perfectly well myself. I don’t think that is what sola scriptura actually meant historically because that is not how the Reformers actually dealt with Scripture. And that is certainly not the Anglican approach to Scripture; it is, instead, a recipe for disaster — every man a pope, every man his own infallible spiritual authority. The Bible was not given first to individuals, but to the Church, to the Body of Christ, and it is in and through the Church that the Holy Spirit works to lead all God’s people into right understanding of Scripture. The Church — not the academy and not even the private study — is the “natural habitat” of Scripture. St. Paul codifies this understanding in his first letter to Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:14–15 (ESV): 14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

St. Paul is not pitting the Church against Scripture or Scripture against the Church: far from it! Rather, the Church is the living expression of the deposit of faith found in Scripture, the most reliable interpreter of that faith, the body in which Scriptural faith comes to life.

In centering Scripture in the Church, I am not saying that individuals should not read and study the Bible individually, personally! God forbid: let us be people of the Word. Personal engagement with Scripture is essential for spiritual growth. But, I am saying that our individual understanding of Scripture must be submitted to the Church, to the Great Tradition of the one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church, that we must exercise some humility and that we must not insist on our own, idiosyncratic interpretations of Scripture over the consensus fidelium, the consensus of the faithful for over two millennia. To say, “I know what the Church teaches, but I read the Scripture differently,” to persist in that attitude when corrected, and to encourage others to follow your personal understanding is the definition of heretic.

The authority in all things belongs to Christ. He mediates that authority in and through Scripture which contains all things necessary for salvation and which is the unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life. Scripture is to be read and understood consensually, that is, by the whole Church.

This consensual understanding of Scripture — Scripture read in and by the Church — means that the Church is also an instrument through which Christ mediates his authority. That is also emphasized in the Fundamental Declarations which confess the Creeds, affirm the Councils, and confess the godly, historic Episcopacy. Creeds, Councils, and Bishops speak for the Church and so exercise a delegated authority within the Church.

What are the Creeds and what role do they play in the life and faith of the Church? The ACNA Catechism (TBAC) provides a good, brief answer. See Part II, The Apostles Creed And The Life Of Faith, pages 29-32.

Think of the Creeds as the “Cliff Notes” summary of the Gospel. They do not contain everything that is essential for the life of faith and Christian practice, but everything they do contain is essential for the life of faith and Christian practice. Only those who can affirm them in their entirety have embraced the non-negotiable essentials of the faith delivered once for all to the saints and are ready for baptism and full participation in the life of the Church.

The Creeds serve another function, as well; they provide a lens through which the Church reads and understands Scripture. For example, the Athanasian Creed details the way the Church understands and expresses the reality of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ (fully God and fully man). The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, discerned that this is the proper and authoritative way to read and understand the Scriptures as they reveal to us the Triune God and the incarnate Logos. In this sense, rejection of the Creeds is a rejection of Scripture as understood consensually by the Church. This notion brings us naturally to the topic of consensual understanding and the Councils of the Church.

Ecumenical Church Councils
From time to time there are issues that arise in the life of the Church that are not explicitly addressed in Scripture, or that are perhaps addressed only obliquely. One group within the Church may read Scripture in a way that conflicts with others in the Church; each group is trying to be faithful to Scripture, but it is not perfectly clear what faithfulness looks like. We have examples of this in Scripture itself, the classic one being the inclusion of the Gentiles, as Gentiles, in the Church. Paul and Barnabas read Scripture and discerned the direction of the Holy Spirit toward inclusion of the Gentiles without their prior conversion to Judaism and without imposing upon them the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Other leaders in the Church read Scripture differently. To them, Jesus was the Messiah of Israel; to follow Jesus required identification first with Israel, i.e., converting to Judaism and faithfully observing the Law. How was the Church to determine which group, which reading of Scripture, was correct?

We find the answer in Acts 15. The apostles and the elders of the Church came together in council in Jerusalem, under the auspices of James, the bishop of the Jerusalem church, to listen to one another, to read Scripture together, to pray together, to listen to the Holy Spirit together, and to decide together the proper way forward for the Church. This was the first of the Church’s councils, and it served as the model for Church-wide discernment for a thousand years. When important decisions had to be made regarding the faith and practice of the Church, leaders of the Church from throughout the world assembled to listen to one another, to search the Scriptures, to pray, to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit, and to decide the issue on behalf of the whole Church. When the council spoke, it spoke with authority for the Church.

There were seven such councils of the whole Church. Anglicans recognize them as a valid source of authority with a certain caveat, according to the Fundamental Declarations:

Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.

There are several important features of this affirmation. First, we embrace only the Councils of the undivided Church, when East and West were one, before the Great Schism of 1054. That is the period when the Councils spoke for the universal Church. Second, we affirm fully only the first four of these Councils. These are the ones which defined and clarified the essential dogmas of the Church:

Nicea (325)
Christ is one being with the Father and co-eternal.

Constantinople (381)
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, of one being and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. It was this council that gave the final form to the Nicene Creed, which accordingly is more precisely called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

Ephesus (431)
Mary is rightly called the Theotokos (God bearer) since Jesus is God incarnate from conception. (This has less to do with Mary and more to do with Jesus. It insists that Jesus was fully God from conception as opposed to such heresies as adoptionism which insists that Mary bore only a human person who was later filled with the Spirit of Sonship — adopted — by God. To insist that Jesus was fully God and fully man from conception implies that Mary bore God in her womb, thus rightly bestowing on her the title Theotokos, God bearer.)

Chalcedon (451)
Christ is one person with two natures — fully human and fully divine — and those two natures are neither separated nor confused.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh Councils are different in nature than these first four. They provide detail and clarification of the four, and defend them against some heretical interpretations. We affirm those Christological clarifications. But they also range into political matters and matters of church practice that we have determined is more appropriately left to local discretion. We affirm the first four Councils fully, and the fifth, sixth, and seventh insofar as they shed additional light upon the essential dogmatic statements made previously, and insofar as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.

Tragically, the Church split along an East-West line in 1054, creating the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, and fractured again during and after the Reformation. That makes the convening of an Ecumenical Council impossible. So, how do churches make important doctrinal and liturgical decisions today? How do we, as Anglicans, do it? What is the ongoing source of authority in the life of the church, acting under Scripture, Creeds, and Councils? The answer is found in the third of the Fundamental Declarations:

We confess the godly historic Episcopate [Bishops] as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.

Jesus gave the Apostles certain authority in the Church, empowering them, for example, to forgive sins or to withhold forgiveness of sins and to bind on earth or to loose on earth (ref Mt 16:19 and John 20:22). Since the mission of the Church extended beyond the life of the Twelve, the role they played in the life of the Church needed to extend, as well. Thus, the Apostles appointed/ordained bishops through prayer and the laying on of hands to succeed them in their apostolic ministry. The bishops are to today’s church as the Apostles were to the first-century church. This doctrine and practice is often referred to as Apostolic Succession. Each bishop in the ACNA is able to trace his spiritual lineage directly and in an unbroken line to one or more of the Apostles. That means, of course, that each priest and deacon can, as well, since priests and deacons are ordained by Bishops. [As an aside, Archbishop Foley’s apostolic lineage, and thus mine since he ordained me to the priesthood, has been traced back to Peter, James, John, and Paul.]

But, Apostolic Succession means more than laying on of hands in ordination. It means fidelity to the Apostolic witness, passing on faithfully and fully that deposit of Apostolic faith received in and through Scriptures, Creeds, Councils, and the Church.

In the ACNA, the College of Bishops, i.e., the Bishops from every diocese meeting together, make decisions pertaining to the entire Province — to all the dioceses and parishes comprising the Province.

For decisions that affect only a particular dioceses, the Ordinary — the bishop of that diocese — convenes a synod, a gathering of all clergy and elected/appointed lay delegates from each parish to reach a decision through prayer, study of Scripture, listening, and voting. Our diocese, the Anglican Diocese of the South, has an annual synod in November.

Conclusion: The Question of Authority
So, what are the reliable sources of truth and authority in the Anglican Church? First, we note that all authority lies in and with Jesus Christ; it was given to him by God the Father. But, Jesus, through the work and indwelling presence of his Holy Spirit, ministers that authority in several ways: Scripture, Creeds, Councils, and Bishops.

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CONFIRMATION: Session 2 — Handout

ACNA Fundamental Declarations of the Province

We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him. Therefore, the Anglican Church in North America identifies the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:

1. We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.

2. We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

3. We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.

4. We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.

5. Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.

6. We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.

7. We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

In all these things, the Anglican Church in North America is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain as the Anglican Way has received them the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ.

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CONFIRMATION: Session 1 — Anglican Identity

Fr. John A. Roop

Christian Essentials / Anglican Distinctives

Session 1: Anglican Identity

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Introduction: An Exploration of Anglican Identity

Who are we as Anglicans? While that would seem to be a simple question, it is, in reality, anything but simple. We are a diverse group in terms of nationality, culture, and expressions of faith. But, we are held together by historical bonds of association and affection, by common prayer and worship, and, until recently, by a common understanding of the essentials of our faith.

So, out of this complex question, we will look at three areas of Anglican Identity: (1) the historical development of Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion, (2) the ecclesial structure and hierarchy of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the province to which we belong, and (3) the ethos — the character, the spirit — of the ACNA.


The Church in England and The Anglican Communion: Historical Considerations

Let’s begin with a “trick” question: Where, when, and by whom did the Anglican Church originate? I know that the most obvious answer is (1) in England, (2) in the early 16th century, (3) by Henry VIII, but that is not actually the case — at least not fully the case.

The Church in England began in Galilee sometime around 33 AD by the authority of Jesus Christ.

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Mt 28:16-20).

This, the Great Commission, is where Anglican identity starts, because it is where the mission of the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic church starts. There is only one Church with many expressions of the Church’s common faith. I will, from time to time, refer to this common faith as the Great or Catholic Tradition, where Catholic simple means universal. Anglicans are and always have been part of the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. From Jesus’ ascension the apostles and disciples tarried in Jerusalem for ten more days until, on Pentecost, they received the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to accomplish this mission. Then, they began to make disciples – to baptize and to teach – first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the world. Thomas headed east, carrying the Gospel to India. Mark went southwest to Egypt where he founded a thriving and influential Christian community in Alexandria, a community that produced some of the greatest theologians in the early church. Paul went – well, Paul went everywhere throughout Asia Minor, into Europe, and perhaps as far west as Spain. Tradition tells us that both he and Peter were martyred in Rome around 65 AD. The Roman church gained a particular prominence, as did its bishops in succession after Peter, due to its association with both Peter and Paul. The relationship between the church at Rome and other prominent historic churches – Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople – is best described as “first among equals.” Historically, the Bishop of Rome had a position of honor, but no more or less authority than any other bishop. That the Bishop of Rome began later to claim such authority over other bishops was one major factor leading to the Great Schism (1054) between the Eastern and Western Churches, the first major division in Christendom.

It wasn’t just the Apostles who carried the Gospel throughout the world; the word was spread naturally and organically by those who had received it. It accompanied soldiers on their marches and travelers on their journeys, and it was carried by merchants along with their wares. The history of this “ordinary” evangelism was not recorded, so we usually have no details of precisely when and how the Gospel reached a particular region or people. Britain is a case in point. Was it Roman soldiers or tin merchants who brought the Gospel to the isles? And, when was Christ first preached there? We simply do not know. But, we do have some notion of when the faith arrived in Britain.

The Church in Britain

Some church fathers and historians claim a very early arrival of the church in Britain. In his defense of the faith, Tertullian (d. 222) writes:

The extremities of Spain, the various parts of Gaul, the regions of Britain which have never been penetrated by Roman arms have received the religion of Christ.

Eusebius, a 4th century church historian, even claims apostolic evangelization of Britain:

The Apostles passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Britannic Isles (Demonstratio Evangelica).

Perhaps. But what we can say with certainty is that the church was well established in England by 314. In that year, at the Emperor Constantine’s directive, representatives of the Church met in the town of Arles to address the heresy of Donatism. Documents from the council record the presence of three British bishops: Eborius of York, Restitutus of London, and Adelphius, whose episcopal see is uncertain. If there were British bishops, there were British clergy and churches. While the church was present in Britain at this time, it was not widespread in geographical scope or influence, both of which waxed and waned for centuries, almost disappearing entirely during the Saxon conquest (5th-6th centuries).

Synod of Whitby: Roman Jurisdiction

What follows is an abbreviated and simplified summary of English church history; volumes have been written if you are interested. But, for our purposes, this abstract should suffice.

By the 7th century, there were two distinct forms of Christianity practiced in the British kingdom of Northumbria: Celtic and Roman. Celtic Christianity entered the kingdom through the Abbey of Iona – an abbey founded on the Scottish island of Iona by the Irish monk Columba. Roman Christianity was likely introduced by missionaries sent by Pope Gregory the Great expressly to convert the Anglo-Saxons. There were differences in these two forms of the faith in such areas as organization and liturgy: Celtic Christianity was ordered around a monastic model governed by abbots and monks while Roman Christianity was governed hierarchically by Pope (the Bishop of Rome), bishops, and priests. The liturgies and calendar the two forms used varied somewhat – particularly calculations of the date for Easter. They shared one, common faith – the faith once for all delivered to the saints, as Jude writes – but they expressed it in different forms and with different governing structures.

Each form cycled into and out of dominance at the preference of successive kings, and tension between them grew. In 664, King Oswiu of Northumbria convened a synod at Whitby – a gathering of officials from both the Celtic and Roman churches – to determine which form of Christianity his kingdom would practice. Each side presented its case. Ultimately King Oswiu decided in favor of Roman practice, based largely upon Peter’s position as chief of the Apostles and his association with the church at Rome. At this point, the church in Britain came under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church.

Anglican History Summary

Why bother with all this history? Two important points emerge from it that shape our Anglican identity. First, there was a church in Britain, in England – part of the one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church established by Christ and built through the mission of the Apostles and their successors – before that church was under the jurisdiction of Rome; there was nothing essentially Roman about the English church. Second, coming under the jurisdiction of Rome was a political decision made by the King of Northumbria. The decision could have been otherwise, favoring the Celtic church.

The English Church and the Reformation

Let’s now fast-forward some eight centuries. By the 15th century a reformation movement was growing in some quarters of the Roman Catholic Church. The fundamental conviction of this movement and those who led it was that through the years the Roman Church had departed in some significant ways from the purity of the Apostolic faith and had added to the faith doctrines, as necessary for salvation, that could not be found in or proved by Scripture. Some of the main differences between Roman doctrine and the growing convictions of the reformers can be found in The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion in the Book of Common Prayer.

So, the movement to reform the Roman Church grew, initiated and led by men such as Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli. Each of these men and their respective groups differed in particulars, but they were united in their desire to return to the purity of the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith – and not of works. They were united in their emphasis on the centrality of the Word of God, the Scriptures, and upon its central, essential, and authoritative role in establishing doctrine and governing the Church.

England had its own reformation underway – partly political and partly religious. You probably know the politics: Henry VIII needed a male heir to continue his dynasty and his wife, Catherine of Aragon, was apparently unable to produce a son. Henry needed an annulment which could be granted only by the Pope – the Bishop of Rome. To Henry, this was a political matter of national sovereignty. When the annulment was not forthcoming, Henry challenged the right of the Pope to interfere with the political affairs of a sovereign nation, England. He ultimately disavowed the Pope and severed the relationship between the English Church and the Roman Church. In some sense, Henry VIII returned England to the religious independence it had had before the Synod of Whitby. There had been an English Church not under Roman authority before, and now there was again. It’s not quite fair to say that the Church of England began with Henry VIII; it is fair to say that the church returned to English autonomy under Henry VIII.

Henry chose Thomas Cranmer as the first English Archbishop of Canterbury. In some sense, it was Cranmer who created a unique Anglican identity through his reformation of English liturgy (the creation of The Book of Common Prayer), his expression of doctrine (The Articles of Religion), and his book of homilies (required sermons in the Church of England). Others had major influence in nuancing Anglican identity both in the beginning and throughout its history, but none more so than Thomas Cranmer.

I will spare you the ins-and-outs of the development of the Church of England – the Anglican Church – over the next several generations; it is not pretty. Needless to say, there were various factions in the Church striving for dominance: the Evangelicals who sought to identify with and emulate the Continental Reform movements of Luther and Calvin more closely; the Puritans who wanted to out-reform the Reformers and to strip everything from the faith that was not specifically commanded in Scripture; and the Anglo-Catholics who felt the Reformation had gone a bit far and wanted to reintroduce many aspects of Catholicism – minus the Pope – into Anglicanism. These factions have existed from the beginning of the Anglican Church and are still present in various forms; frankly, this diversity is as much a part of the distinctive Anglican identity as is our common faith.

Expansion and Contraction

England grew as a world power and established colonies across the globe. It was said that the “sun never sets on the British Empire,” a testimony to the breadth and scope of the global British control and influence. As colonies were established, so were outposts of the Church of England. In this way, Anglicanism was exported globally. In its best moments, the church evangelized the indigenous populations; sometimes, however, it was insular and existed solely for the benefit of the colonists. Each of these colonial churches was part of the Church of England – the Anglican Church – and looked to the King or Queen of England as its political monarch and to the Archbishop of Canterbury as its spiritual head (under the authority of the Supreme Head of the Church, the reigning monarch).

One of these colonies was a little thing that became the United States of America. Many of our settlers and Founding Fathers were Anglicans of one stripe or another and the Church of England exerted significant spiritual influence in the Colonies and ultimately in the States.

As England’s power waned, colonies became independent either by choice of England or, in our case, by armed revolt. As England withdrew governmentally, it remained spirituality; the Church of England stayed in the former colonies and the colonists and indigenous people assumed leadership. These churches were no longer quite the Church of England, but they did originate there and they did feel strong connections to the faith, practice, and polity of the Anglican Church. They now formed a communion of churches throughout much of the world all of which looked to the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury as their home and titular head. This is the Anglican Communion: a global confederation of churches originating historically in the Church of England or choosing to affiliate with the Church of England, and bound together by common faith and practice.

As you can imagine, the American Revolution stressed the relationship between the American colonial church and the Church of England. All clerics – priests and bishops – had to subscribe to the supremacy of the English monarch, which simply wouldn’t do. “Back door” ways were found around this, and an American episcopacy – body of bishops – was established so the American church could function independently of England. This uniquely American version of the Anglican Church called itself the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, or simply, The Episcopal Church (TEC). Soon, it reestablished ties with the Church of England and took its place – a prominent place – in the global Anglican Communion, not least through the wealth it contributed, and still contributes, to the Anglican coffers. Frankly, its wealth allows it to exert influence in the Communion far disproportionate to its numerical membership in the global Anglican Church.


In the last half of the twentieth century, the Episcopal Church began to move away from traditional orthodox understanding of faith, practice, and church discipline. One of the early issues was the unauthorized ordination of women to the priesthood. Another issue — and one most people consider far more serious — was a change in standards of human sexuality and an acceptance of same sex relationships and civil unions/marriages. Additionally, the Episcopal Church consecrated as Bishop an openly gay man living with his same sex partner. All of this was in opposition to the standards of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Even more disturbing to many was the drift of the Episcopal Church away from the centrality of Christ. A former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori made statements indicating Jesus was a way to God, but not necessarily the only way to God; and this trend has only intensified. There were and are tendencies in the Episcopal Church to deny such fundamental tenets of the faith as the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and his divinity.

Reverse Missions

Reform movements developed within the Episcopal Church to recall it to the true faith, but these were largely unsuccessful. There came a point when many orthodox Episcopalians felt they could no longer stay in the Episcopal Church. At this same time, other provinces – national churches – in the Anglican Communion were growing concerned about the theological drift of the Episcopal Church and determined to launch missionary efforts to the United States. These provinces – largely from Africa and the Southern Cone (southernmost region of South America) – offered shelter and episcopal oversight to disaffected Episcopalians. Several groups were formed to allow these Episcopalians to worship as Anglicans – to maintain ties with the Anglican Communion – apart from the Episcopal Church.

This was a confusing and messy time, and I will not (cannot) go into all the details. But, out of this “mess” emerged strong leadership in the form of GAFCON – the Global Anglican Futures Conference – a conference of orthodox primates (leaders of provinces in the Anglican Communion) representing the majority of Anglicans worldwide and functioning somewhat as an orthodox communion within the broader Anglican Communion. These primates supported the formation of an autonomous Anglican province in North America as an alternative to the Episcopal Church. With their support, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was formed. It is this province to which Apostles Anglican Church belongs. The ACNA is recognized as a province within the Anglican Communion by the majority of Anglicans worldwide, though it is not recognized formally by the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Church of England. Our Primate is Archbishop Foley Beach, who also serves as Chair of GAFCON and as our diocesan bishop in the Anglican Diocese of the South.

This is a brief(!) summary of our historical Anglican Identity. We will cover some of this in greater detail as we continue with this class. Before we go on, are there any questions?

Anglican Hierarchy

I have used several Anglican terms related to our hierarchy, our structure of governance and authority, and our organizational structure. I’d like to give a bit more detail on that structure.


The local worshipping body under the spiritual authority of a rector, if the parish is financially self-sufficient, or a vicar if the parish receives financial support from the diocese. A parish that is not financially self-sufficient is most often called a mission. Our parish is Apostles Anglican Church and our Rector is Fr. Jack King.


A communion of local parishes under the care of a Dean. The dean assists the rectors/vicars as needed and convenes meetings of the local parishes for fellowship, common efforts, common worship, etc. Apostles belongs to the Deanery of East Tennessee along with Old North Abbey and St. Brendan’s. Currently, our Dean is Fr. Aaron Wright who also servers as rector of Old North Abbey.


A communion of parishes under the spiritual authority of a bishop. In the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) there are two types of dioceses: geographical dioceses and dioceses of affiliation. Historically, dioceses were based upon geographical boundaries; there might be a Diocese of East Tennessee, for example, to which all the Anglican churches in that geographical region belonged. Our diocese, the Anglican Diocese of the South (ADOTS), is primarily geographical and covers several southern states. The ACNA also allows for a parish to affiliate with a diocese outside its geographical boundaries. Typically, this involves a difference in ministry emphasis or theology between the parish and the geographical diocesan bishop. A case in point is the issue of women’s ordination to the priesthood. ADOTS does not allow for ordination of women to the priesthood. Some other dioceses do. A parish within ADOTS’ geographical boundaries that favors women’s ordination might choose to affiliate with a different diocese which allows for it.


A regional or national communion of dioceses under the spiritual authority of an Archbishop or Primate. Our province is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and our Archbishop/Primate is Abp Foley Beach.

Anglican Communion

The communion of all Anglican provinces. I am fudging a bit on this definition because it is debated. Formally, to be a member province of the Anglican Communion, a province must be recognized as such by the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, the majority of provinces currently disagree with that requirement. Why is that important? Because the ACNA is recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion by a vast majority of Anglican provinces and Anglicans worldwide, but is not recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Orders of Ordained Ministry

A deacon is the first order of ordained ministers. He/she is under the direct spiritual authority of a bishop. Every deacon “belongs” to a bishop, though, in practice, the deacon resides in a parish and is under the day-to-day spiritual authority of the rector/vicar. The deacon’s ministry is to represent the world to the church and the church to the world, particularly in works of charity. Additionally, the deacon is to be a catechist (teacher, particularly of the Catechism), and to read the Gospel in the liturgy. Also, the deacon may preach, baptize, perform weddings and funerals, and conduct other liturgical services at the discretion of the rector.

A priest is the second order of ordained ministers. He is under the direct spiritual authority of a bishop and is assigned to a particular ministry, typically to parish ministry. A priest with spiritual authority/oversight for a parish is called a rector or vicar, as discussed above. A full time assistant to the priest may be called a curate. Other priests who assist are called assisting priests. All priests are identical in the integrity of their orders, though they differ in the exercise of that ministry. For example, Fr. Jack and Fr. Thomas — all the priests at Apostles — are equally priests and do not differ in the fundamental nature of their priestly vocation. But, as Rector, Fr. Jack has administrative authority over all other priests in the parish. Fr. Jack is the first among equals of all priests at Apostles.

A bishop is the successor of the Apostles and has the responsibility for maintaining sound doctrine, teaching, unity, and order in the Church. It falls to the bishops to ordain other clergy and to confirm all members of the church. Diocesan Bishops, also called Ordinaries, have spiritual and administrative oversight of a diocese.

A canon is a clergy or lay person chosen by the bishop and appointed to assist him in a particular ministry.

An archbishop may have authority over multiple dioceses.

The primate has spiritual authority over a province.

Three Streams of Anglican Identity and the ACNA

When ++Foley Beach was selected as the second Archbishop and Primate of the ACNA he was asked in an interview to discuss his concept of Anglican identity. Following is the question and his response.

Q: How would you define the Anglican identity”? What does ACNA distinctively have to offer both Christians and non-Christians in America? Should Anglicans have more of a “confessional” identity? Is the new catechism an attempt to develop a more confessional identity, especially given Dr. Packer’s recommendation to teach it in ACNA parishes at the Provincial Assembly?

Abp. Beach: Let me answer that last question first. I think a lot of us get in trouble when we think we have the Anglican identity, because we’re a diverse lot. From our formation days back in the Reformation, we’ve been a diverse group. Currently—and this is something I think that’s very distinctive about who we are— we are a group that is Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, and Charismatic. Some call that the ‘Three Streams,’ and that’s a simple way of explaining it. But, even some of our most Anglo-Catholic folks would be more charismatic than I am. All of us tend to have those three streams somewhere in our mix.

I think that’s very unique for American Christianity today. All of us have our core; my core would be evangelical. Although I have the other two pieces, my core or default is evangelical. But, these streams enable us to bring the richness of the breadth of Christianity, and it’s truly powerful when these streams are together.

Three streams, one river: that is how Anglican identity as understood by and practiced in the ACNA is often described. What are the characteristics of these three streams: evangelical, charismatic, and Ango-Catholic?

Evangelical: the centrality of Scripture, the preaching of the Gospel, the necessity of a personal commitment to Jesus Christ

Charismatic: the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual empowerment of the priesthood of all believers, the continuation of spiritual gifts

Anglo-Catholic: the centrality of the sacraments, the emphasis on history and tradition, the focus on true and beautiful worship

Different parishes in the ACNA emphasize different streams. There are evangelical parishes. When Archbishop Foley Beach was rector at Holy Cross Anglican Church, it would have been described as evangelical, because that is his core identity. There are evangelical, charismatic and Anglo-Catholic parishes within our diocese. And, within each parish, there are individuals who are more comfortable with one stream or another. But, we need one another for balance, and we need to appreciate the vital contributions of each of these streams to our faith and identity – not just Anglican faith and identity, but Christian faith and identity.

Anglican Ethos

Via Media (middle way)

• Not compromise, but finding a way to live together

• Both/And versus Either/Or

• Unity (and strength) in Diversity

• In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity

Authority (three legged stool)


• Tradition — Vincentian Canon: Always, Everywhere, By All

• Reason


• Trinitarian — “By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever:” to God, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

• Sacramental

• Ordered and Beautiful

Spiritual Formation

• Three-fold regula: Daily Office, Weekly Eucharist, Personal Piety

• Classical disciplines: prayer, fasting, almsgiving


• Generous orthodoxy

A way (Anglicanism) but not the Way (Christ)

• Holistic

• Broad, deep, rich

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CONFIRMATION: Requirements


Dearly beloved, it is essential that those who wish to be Confirmed or Received in this Church publicly confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; become his disciples; know and affirm the Nicene Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; and have received instruction in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and the Catechism of the Church (BCP 2019, p. 176).

In accordance with the Book of Common Prayer 2019, Apostles Anglican Church requires all confirmands (those standing for Confirmation) to memorize the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments as found below. In addition, the Confirmands are expected to have a basic understanding of each sufficient to guide worship, faith, practice and mature ministry.

The Apostles’ Creed (BCP 2019, p. 20)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (BCP 2019, p. 134)

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

The Decalogue (BCP 2019, pp. 100-101)

I am the Lord your God.

You shall have no other gods but me.

You shall not make for yourself any idol.

You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.


Confirmation is the sacramental rite in which the grace of the Holy Spirit is received to empower one for mature ministry in the church and in the world. Accordingly, our rector, Fr. Jack King, would like each confirmand to prayerfully and prudently reflect on his/her sense of calling to lay ministry, to discern the work that God has given you to do, both in the church and in the whole of your life beyond the walls of the church. He would like you to briefly express this in writing and to give it to him or to me before the service of confirmation.

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CONFIRMATION: Syllabus and Schedule

Fr. John A. Roop and Dcn. Bruce Corrigan

Christian Essentials / Anglican Distinctives

Syllabus and Schedule

Session 1 2/19/2023 Anglican Identity (Roop)

Session 2 2/26/2023 Anglican Sources of Authority (Roop)

Session 3 3/5/2023 Creeds (Roop)

Session 4 3/12/2023 The Lord’s Prayer (Corrigan)

Session 5 3/19/2023 The Decalogue (Corrigan)

Session 6 3/26/2023 Sacraments (Roop)

Session 7 4/2/20203 Sacramental Rites (Roop)

Session 8 4/16/2023 Anglican Spiritual Formation (Roop)

Session 9 4/23/2023 Confirmation (Roop)

Session 10 4/30/2023 Ask Me Anything Anglican (Roop and Corrigan)

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