King College Confessions over Cathaginian Christians

At King College, the English curriculum rotated around a reading of Augustine's Confessions. It's imprinted on my mind because, to my horror, the library only had a copy in Latin by the time I got around to checking it out. (I hate buying books unless I know I want it forever - it's nearly impossible for me to throw them away.) I can still hear, with fear, those quiet questions from Dr. Woolsey..."Chris, you have the Latin. Can you shed any light on this sentence?"


Anyway, we all had strategies for dealing with reading the text. One student said "Just read until he starts talking about how sorry he is for his sins, skip seven pages, and you'll pick back up to his original thought." Not a bad strategy. But you miss all the lamentin' over lust. So, if you went to ole' KC and took an upper classmen's advice, here's a memorable way to experience what you missed.

A Rap about the Confessions of St. Augustine. Written and performed by Christ "MCG" Gehrz...with some help from puppets.


Now Augustine of Hippo dropped in three and fitty-four
Constantine had gone Nicene almost thirty years before
But Auggie grew up hatin' on the prayin'
See his momma was a Christian, but his daddy was a pagan

On the mean streets of Thagaste, A-Dawg's on a tear
They call him Del Monte 'cause he's gotta have the pear
Didn't even taste it but he's grinnin'
See, it's not about the Benjamins; it's all about the sinnin'

Yeah, and playa had his way wit all da ladies
Until the girl said, "Boo, chill - we're gonna have a baby"

Oh, Augustine!
(Or Augustine, Augustine)
(Yeah, he's lustin', he's lustin')
(But he's trustin', he's trustin')
God made us for himself
And our hearts'll find their rest in him

Went back to school in Carthage (the town the Romans flattened)
And holla! He's a scholah at philosophy and Latin
Told 'em all that "Cicero's da illest!"
Some Manicheans told him, "Son, you don't know what ill is!"

"What's goin' down's a battle, good and evil warrin'
The spiritual is admirable, the physical's abhorrent"
He thought they'd give him answers that were hidden
But when they said to give up sex, he said, "Oh no, you di'n't!"

Still, playa became a praya when he said
"Give me chastity and continence, Lord... but not yet!"

CHORUS: (repeat)

Took a job in It'ly and read up on the Plat'nists
Learned that evil's just the lack of good, and only good exists
A man in Milan named Ambrose tried to reach him
A. said, "I don't believe his words, but bro's da bomb at preachin'!"

Still he read the Holy Scripture and the picture started shiftin'
He prayed to God to save him from himself but he kept driftin'
Until he fell down weepin' at his knees
He heard the voice of children singin' "Take up and read"

And playa read Paul's playa-hatin' epistle
"Clothe yourself in Jesus Christ" hit him like a missile!

CHORUS: (repeat, 2x)


A Taste of Alexandria

It's been a while since I've done a Worship Wednesday post, so here's he epiclesis from the Divine Liturgy of St Mark.


The people sing the following prayers slowly and peacefully while the priest and deacon continue in a low voice.

People: We believe, and glorify the Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ: fill our hearts with joy and gladness.

Spare us, O Lord our God. (Thrice).

According to Thy great mercy. (Thrice).

And not according to our sins.

Priest: (in a low voice) Thine own of Thine own gifts we have set before Thee, and we pray and beseech Thee, O good God and Lover of mankind: send down from Thy holy height, from Thine appointed habitation, from Thy bosom beyond human experiment, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy One, the Lord and Giver of life, Who spake in the Law and by the Prophets and the Apostles; Who is everywhere present and filleth all things, working sanctification of His own free will, and not as a minister, upon those He chooseth by His good pleasure: One in essence, manifold in His energies, fountain of Divine gifts: consubstantial with Thee, proceeding from Thee, sharing the throne of Thy kingdom and of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Look down upon us, and upon this Bread,

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: And upon this Cup,

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: And send down Thy Holy Spirit, that He may bless and hallow them, and may act, as God almighty,

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: As the true God of faith.

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: And make this + Bread the Body,

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: And this + Cup the Blood of the New Testament,

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: Of our very Lord and God and Saviour and universal King, Jesus Christ.

Deacon: Amen.

The priest and people immediately make a full prostration. On Sundays and at other times when prostrations are not made in honour of the Resurrection, a deep bow is made from the waist in its stead.

Deacon: Come down, ye Deacons; pray, ye Presbyters.


Priest: That they may be to all of us who participate in Them for faith, for sobriety, for healing, for temperance, for sanctification, for renovation of soul, body and spirit; for participation in blessedness of eternal life and incorruption, for the glorification of Thy holy name, for the remission of sins; so that in this as in all places Thy most holy name may be glorified, hymned, and hallowed, with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

People: Amen. As it was, and is, and shall be, unto generation and generation, and for all ages of ages. Amen.


Faith and Disorder - the Odd Couple

Okay, I'm about to make claims that the Anglican Communion is - as a branch of the catholic church - not able to futz around with faith and order. I know that it'll make Vicky Gene cry, but it's true.

This is from the most recent Anglican SPREAD communique. They (or, I should say, we) are the Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine (‘as classically expressed in the Anglican Formularies: the Thirty-nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal’).

Rowan Williams own comments would have supported this perception. Only twelve months previously, on 22 July 2001, the London Sunday Telegraph, in a report entitled ‘Archbishop hits out at ban on gay clergy’ Dr Williams, then Archbishop of Wales, claimed that the 1991 ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ report’s bar on the ordination of active homosexuals was incoherent and “this unwillingness to come clean can’t last. It is a contradiction.”

However, on his translation to the See of Canterbury, Williams’ enthusiasm for ‘coming clean’ seemed to be much dampened. He minimised his commitments to the gay lobby and wrote to reassure the Anglican Primates, saying ‘I have to distinguish plainly between personal theories and interpretations and the majority conviction of my Church.’ He has continued to emphasise this distinction between his personal (and in fact widely disseminated) views on the one hand and his official responsibility on the other.

You think if he says that with a pretty enough grin, we'll just give him a pass on that?

Oooh! Nice try. No...this is the standard Kantian retreat from integrity. It might work in a philosophy class, maybe even politics. But do you really believe that creedal, confessional Christians can be held together by someone who does not have convictions as to the trustworthiness of the Church's truth claims?

Hold on to your hat, Archbishop. Somebody is going to call you on that.

Superficially, this may seem generous, even sacrificial, but the consequences for the Church’s commitment to truth are serious. As Gerald Bray has observed, ‘Not to believe the teachings he is expected to defend is not a sign of superior holiness, as some have alleged, but the very opposite – it is deceitfulness taken to a higher level of deception.’ (Churchman Vol.122 No.4 2008 p293)

DOH!!! Too late!

This ‘higher level of deception’ is serious because, as a principle, it has the potential to downgrade Christian truth across the board. If the Archbishop of Canterbury himself can publicly treat the upholding of the plain teaching of Scripture as a formal duty rather than a personal commitment, the door is open to a kind of institutionalised hypocrisy in which it is acceptable to observe the formalities of orthodoxy while at the same time dissolving the substance of orthodoxy by conceding its provisionality. It is not difficult to see where this is leading; for instance Richard Holloway, former Primus (Primate) of Scotland cheerfully described himself in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald as an agnostic and yet can see no reason why he should stop ministering in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

I have no idea where national churches think that they get the authority to change the catholic faith and trivialize such essentials as the resurrection (which Mr. Holloway denies as a member of the Westar Institute) yet still keep less catholic traditions (such as liturgies, ideas of ministry & order, etc) in play. And they of course claim some sort of ethical high ground (while defending the ‘right’ to kill babies). Nonsense! (John Spong, et al...I’m talking to you!)

And this is why the Anglican Covenant will not work. Its minimal doctrine and diluted disciplinary provisions are simply inadequate in a Communion where we can no longer be certain what people mean by the words they use and whether they believe the words they use. Dr Williams by no means bears sole responsibility for this culture, but he presides over it and has lent it respectability.

It is said that the partisan nature of his appointment contained the seeds of Speaker Martin’s downfall and this week he has suffered the sudden death of his political career. The partisan nature of Dr Williams’ appointment also contains the seeds of his downfall, but his is likely to be a slow death as the confusion he has sown theologically gradually manifests itself in practice, as most recently in Jamaica. And in this light, we can see that GAFCON’s great contribution to the Anglican Communion has been to begin the process of restoring confessional confidence so that, as one body, Anglicans can speak of God and the gospel truthfully and clearly.

Read the rest here. I try to cut the poor guy some slack...after all, there are rumours that he's already looking for a way out of office.

Oh yeah...have a wonderful Feast of the Ascension!

Dr. Schori asks: “Is that the feast where everybody assents to our modifications of catholic faith and order?”

No...it’s where the whole Church remembers that Christ is King, he rules in his Church. We don't have the authority to change things that he instituted. And we acknowledge that he will grow his Church when we do his will.

Dr. Schori adds: “Hmmm....I wonder why we’re not growing?”

Yeah...keep telling yourself it’s that because of demographic shifts and your sterling education.

Nope...can’t possibly have anything to do with not disciplining heretical clergy or trying to consecrate Buddhists as bishops.