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Conception of the Theotokos

Holy Annie, God’s granny, pray for us

Conception of the Theotokos
Conception of the Theotokos

Tomorrow, in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, is the Feast of “Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary“. The Calendar is a binding formulary of our church. We promise and sign that we believe and will teach what our formularies present. If I were to cast doubts on Mary’s mother being Anne, or on Mary’s perpetual virginity, I could be subjected to disciplinary action under a “Title D” challenge on my lack of orthodoxy and lose my license as a priest… [Many in our church look down on The Episcopal Church as watering down the fullness of the faith and sowing doubt – the TEC Calendar only has the celebration titled “The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary”! They may be less certain of who Mary’s parents are, but at least they still proclaim the perpetual virginity of Mary…]

How we praise thee, Holy Anne. God himself hath called thee Gran.

The icon shows how Mary was conceived. Maybe it also explains why Joachim is left off our church’s requirement, to believe and teach, in terms of being the other parent…

“The Righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna” are mentioned in the Orthodox Church in the Dismissal Prayer:

Priest: Glory to You, O God, our hope, glory to You.
May Christ our true God, as a good, loving, and merciful God, have mercy on us and save us, through the intercessions of His most pure and holy Mother; the power of the precious and life-giving cross; the protection of the honorable, bodiless powers of heaven, the supplications of the honorable, glorious prophet and forerunner John the Baptist; the holy, glorious, and praiseworthy apostles; the holy, glorious, and triumphant martyrs; the holy and righteous ancestors Joachim and Anna; our holy and God-bearing Fathers; Saint (Saint of the Day) whose memory we commemorate today, and all the saints.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.

People: Amen.

Here is the Sticherion of “O Lord I have cried”:

She who before was a barren land giveth birth to fertile ground, and having given forth a holy fruit from her fruitless womb, she nurtureth her with milk. O awesome wonder, the nourisher of our Life, who received the Bread from heaven in her womb is nourished with milk at her mother’s bosom.

Come, let us now join chorus with hymnody, O ye who love the feasts of the Church, and with faith let us hold festival, honoring the memory of Joachim and Anna, the honored couple; for they gave birth to the Mother of God for us, the pure Virgin. Wherefore, they have passed from the transitory things over to that which is incorrupt, to the mansions of ever-lasting life, praying that we be saved.

Today all creation is adorned with gladness, O most hymned Theotokos, offering up, with oneness of mind, the annual commemoration of thy parents, celebrating together the wondrous Joachim and Anna; for they have become mediators of joy, giving birth to thee against all hope, the nourisher of our Life, who hast caused the Light to shine forth.

Today Anna rejoiceth, leaping up in spirit, and she is filled with joyful gladness, having obtained her desire, the fertility which she had long cherished; for she put forth the fruit of the promise and blessing, the most immaculate Mary who gave birth to our God, to shine like the sun upon those who sit in darkness.

O blessed couple, ye have surpassed all parents, in that ye gave rise to her who transcendeth all creation. Truly blessed art thou, O Joachim, having become the father of such a maiden! And blessed is thy womb, O Anna, for thou hast put forth the Mother of our Life! Blessed is the bosom wherewith thou didst nourish with milk her who nurtured Him Who sustaineth all creation! Him do ye entreat, we beseech you, O most blessed one, that our souls find great mercy!

And the Troparion of Ss Joachim & Anna (Tone 1):

Joachim and Anna, who were righteous in the law of grace, have for us given birth unto a God-given babe. Wherefore, the divine Church keepeth splendid festival today, celebrating their honored memory with gladness, glorifying God Who hath lifted up the horn of salvation for us in the house of David.

And from the Prologue of Ohrid

St. Joachim was of the lineage of Judah and a descendant of King David. Anna was the daughter of Matthan the priest, from the lineage of Levi, as was Aaron the high priest. Matthan had three daughters: Mary, Sophia and Anna. Mary married, lived in Bethlehem and gave birth to Salome; Sophia married, also lived in Bethlehem, and gave birth to Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Forerunner; Anna married Joachim in Nazareth, and in old age gave birth to Mary, the Most-holy Theotokos. Joachim and Anna had lived together in marriage for fifty years, and yet had remained barren. They lived devoutly and quietly, and of all their income they spent one third on themselves, distributed one third to the poor and gave the other third to the Temple, and they were well provided for. Once when in their old age they came to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice to God, the high priest Issachar reprimanded Joachim, saying: “You are not worthy that a gift be accepted from your hands, for you are childless.” Others, who had children, pushed Joachim behind them as one unworthy. This greatly grieved these two aged souls and they returned home in great sorrow. Then the two of them fell down before God in prayer, that He work a miracle with them as He once had with Abraham and Sarah, and give them a child as a comfort in their old age. Then God sent His angel, who announced to them the birth of “a daughter most-blessed, by whom all nations on earth will be blessed and through whom the salvation of the world will come.” Anna straightway conceived, and in nine months gave birth to the Holy Virgin Mary. St. Joachim lived for eighty years and Anna lived for seventy-nine, at which time they reposed in the Lord.


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65 thoughts on “Holy Annie, God’s granny, pray for us”

  1. Clearly in NZ you haven’t caught up with the recent trend to combine Mary’s parents in one feast, historically (e.g. introduced at Sarum in 1383) of Anne alone. Joachim is absent from the Sarum calendar; he appeared in the Roman general calendar in 1584 on March 20, moved twice, settling on August 16 from 1913, then was joined with his wife in 1969.

    Does use of the title “Blessed Virgin Mary” necessarily imply perpetual virginity?

    1. Thanks so much, Chris, for this history.

      As for your second paragraph – I cannot comment on how language is used where you are (you might like to); here in NZ, once a person has had sex we cease to call them a virgin. If we call Mary a virgin on her deathbed, then I cannot understand it to mean anything other than that her virginity is perpetual. Can you?


  2. Mark Aitchison

    Ah! I like a challenge. “…how language is used …then I cannot understand it to mean anything other than that her virginity is perpetual…” If we talk about the “runner”, or “record-beater”, Peter Snell for example, we are talking about why they became famous rather than implying the person still is beating records. Dr Snell may very well still be running but whether he is today is not important as far as the description/identification of him that relates to a time around 1974. That isn’t to say what he is doing now is not important in itself (and I also dislike over-emphasis on Mary as Virgin for several reasons, one of which is the way it down-plays everything she did following the birth of Jesus… it is analogous to modern society pretending Jesus’s life story doesn’t go much beyond a cute Christmas card crib scene).

    Perhaps the SYMBOLISM of Mary as Virgin is what is perpetual, in other words we can always think back to that time. The Bible may leave us uncertain as to whether Jesus had siblings or merely relatives, and I don’t think the 39 Articles and the Creeds pin down the “perpetual” issue, but that might not be a bad thing. After all, our understanding of Mary’s mother is also very sketchy – we can be sure there had to be one – but it doesn’t matter if we get the name wrong since we get so many wrong anyway (e.g we write and pronounce even “Jesus” incorrectly). In the case of Anne (or Hannah or whatever it was) the inspirational thing, surely, is that she obviously must have brought up Mary well, and the take-home message that grandmothers are important is valuable as well. If we knew more about her it might get in the way of the symbolic value?

    1. I’m sure, Mark, you saw my concluding html markup 🙂
      I’m not yet totally convinced by your runner, record-beater analogy. Especially if what the person later becomes totally reverses the title that made the person famous. If Bob is famous as a child, for example, I’m not sure that one would continue “Bob the child” as his title so easily into his old age. So while your point may work with some titles, I would like to see another example where the title “virgin” continued with them when they no longer were. Blessings.

      1. It’s not unusual for Mozart to be described as a child prodigy, although he lived to the ripe old age of 35.

  3. Good morning Bosco;
    Perhaps interestingly, I don’t see any reference to Anne in the Prayer Book of 1662; although there is an inclusion in the 1922 ‘revised calendar’. Perhaps New Zealand acquired the entry via that route?

      1. There are plenty of non-biblical saints in the calendar – just in January we find in the Calendar 8 Lucian, 13 Hilary, 18 Prisca, 20 Fabian, 21 Agnes, 22 Vincent. On the other hand, all the red letter days – those provided with collects, epistles, and Gospels – are biblical except All Saints (and I suppose you could argue for that being from Revelation!) Black letter days are just entries in the calendar, with no provision for liturgical observance.

          1. Yes. 1549 is very sparse – Apostles and Evangelists, Magdalene, Michael, All Ss and the Christmas cycle; 1552 adds George, Laurence, and Clement I – along with the zodiac dates, university terms and the “dog daies”!

          2. Chris, if you look through the comments of this thread, you’ll see links to here, here, and here, providing different versions of the “1662” calendar. How can we be clear which is the actual 1662? And then, similarly, for the other historic Prayer Books. Blessings.

          3. Vincent – that isn’t an English 1662, it’s an American 1790 – the Anglican church in the new Republic establishing its liturgical independence. I have an 1830 edition of the 1662, and what is stated to be an accurate copy of the 1662 original (printed 1848), both of which contain the black letter days.

  4. Holy Annie, God’s granny, pray for us

    Gave me a laugh. I never heard that one before. Even if the name is incorrect, I’d like to think Mary’s mother prays for us if we ask.

    I usually say Virgin Mary at least once to designate Jesus’ mother in the course of speaking or writing, because of the several Marys in the Bible. Then I may switch to just Mary.

    June Butler

    1. Yes, June, all the Marys do become difficult. Especially since Joachim and Anne loved the name “Mary” so much, they named two of their children Mary (John 19:25). I guess they too would have distinguished their two daughters by referring to one of them as “Virgin Mary” and the other just simply as “Mary”? Blessings.

  5. Mark Aitchison

    Hmmm.. I saw an “end whimsy” but no “begin whimsy” 😉

    A person may be referred to as a famous child actress long after she has grown up. There are plenty of references to Marys in the gospels, so early talk of the “Virgin Mary” might just have been so the listener might say “Oh yes, that one!”. All those centuries of debate might be just because somebody heard that and got the wrong impression?

    Being slightly serious for a moment, could the sensitivity by some over the question of whether Mary remained a virgin be due to that phrase you used: “if what the person later becomes totally reverses the title” because the virgin birth is thought of too much in terms of an attribute of Mary (and so her ceasing to be an virgin tarnishes the notion of the virgin birth) instead of an attribute of the birth (which cannot be reversed no matter whatever later comes in Mary’s life)? I know there are all manner of historical reasons people say one thing or another, but the language used often influences and restricts the way people think, and what sounds to be an attribute of what makes a lot of difference.

    1. Mark, for me the begin whimsy begins well before this website 🙂 and I would not take the end whimsy too literally. I would take it more in the sense of momentary pause whimsy – but my html coding is not good enough to indicate that. Can you help?

      I think your “serious” paragraph makes much sense – add to that the place that sex increasingly took in the Christian discussion. Blessings.

  6. Steve Benjamin

    Bosco, seriously? When was the last time a cleric’s licence was withdrawn on matters of doctrine in NZ (or anywhere in the Anglican Communion for that matter?).

    Is rejection of the perpetual virginity of the BVM really a contradiction of the Articles of Religion or the doctrine contained in the BCP?

    If an explicit teaching such as Baptismal Regeneration can be rejected by Anglican clergy without question (as well as Infant Baptism), then I think post-partum musings of a gynaecological nature vis-a-vis the Theotokos are unlikely to cast you from the Presbyterate!

    The salvific significance of the BVM’s virginity is only relevant to the phase prior to Jesus’ birth. The theological impact of the doctrine of the incarnation is not reduced by Jesus’ having younger siblings via his Blessed Mother. Some might argue it is enhanced, although certain socially-constructed ideas of sexual purity and integrity may be adversely affected by this suggestion.

    The 16th century Anglican reformers knew their Gospels well and recognised the various references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters so, unlike the Roman Rite, they chose not to style the BVM ‘ever’ Virgin on the occasions she appears in the BCP. It is worth noting that apart from the Creeds, relevant Articles of Religion, the longer title to the Magnificat and the titles for the Holy Days of 2 February, 25 March, 8 September and 8 December, liturgically the BVM is mentioned in the Christmas Day Collect as ‘a pure Virgin’ and only by name in the Christmas Preface and on no other occasions.

    I’d always considered the perpetual virginity of the BVM to be a scripturally-inconsistent yet pious belief with an ancient and hallowed pedigree but far from being ‘necessary for salvation.’

    As for the BCP 1662 having no non-Biblical saints? While the 24 ‘Red Letter’ Saints are purely Scripturally, there are 67 ‘Black Letter’ Saints listed in the 1662 Calendar (after the Prefaces before the Tables to Find Easter).

    And Vincent: which BCP are you looking at? The low-ebb 1552 version which cleared the Calendar of all but 4 Black Letter Saints’ Days? They all came flooding back in the Elizabethan Prayerbook of 1559 and have been a constant and expanding feature of Anglican Prayerbooks ever since.

    My BCP 1662 keeps St Anne (minus her virile spouse) as a Black Letter Day on 26 July. Needless to say, there is no Collect, Epistle and Gospel for the BVM’s Mother but they would come – like all good things in Anglicanism and life – eventually.

  7. Of course Mary is a perpetual virgin – she is the Ark of the New covenant, the Theotokos, the God Bearer.

    In this age where carnal pleasure is a sacrament and sexuality is worshiped in idolatrous fashion, Mary’s virginity stands as a rebuke perhaps – which is why we see blasphemous billboards outside churches perhaps?

  8. Am I alone in finding reference to “God’s granny” a little mocking and lacking respect to Almighty God? I expected better on this site.

      1. Might I add to that though, Peter, the tradition, at least within the catholic part of the Christian spectrum and within contemporary post-modernism, of being able to be “whimsical” with that which is held most dear. Reverence and humour are not antithetical. IMO. And certainly not in my life and experience. Blessings.

  9. Peter Hitchmough

    The extended Holy Family reminds me of the extended British Royal Family – they can be troublesome and don’t figure highly. Thanks for the whimsical moment.

    As far as the “perpetual virgin” Mary. I have held that Christ’s brothers, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) were half-brothers fathered by Joseph. I know that there are other explanations, but, to this simple mind, the simplest explanation works for me.
    [Opens can of worms. Leaves.]

      1. So if Jesus’s brothers were half-brothers, and the children of Joseph but not of Mary, was Joseph a widower when he met and married Mary; or were they divorced some time after the birth of Jesus and then he fathered more children???

  10. LOL

    Question – if someone sainted the grand-parents, shouldn’t the great-grandparents (and so-on) also be sainted and have a day in their honour? :0)

    After-all, there are two lists of names to choose from in the gospels :0)


  11. Brynn Wallace

    Don’t ever lose your sense of humor Bosco, it’s the best thing about you. Some people are entirely too self-righteous for their own good. Keep writing!

  12. Mark Aitchison

    Continuing on with the theme of humour, but also with the serious question of what does it take to get on an Anglican “Saints List”, I wonder whether some day could be set aside for Saint Spike Milligan? He might not have been thought of in the same way as Mary MacKillop for example, but this Christian comedian did a lot of good and evidence of his inspiration and theology are recorded (although a bit hard to find, I admit). There are, of course, a huge number of saints.. the big question is: which ones’ life stories have something inspirational to tell us today? We don’t need miraculous healings, so what do we look for, and do we value saints enough while they are alive?

    1. I have managed to get some onto our NZ calendar, Mark. I suggest you start by getting a motion passed at our diocesan synod to work towards adding a name on the calendar. Blessings.

  13. Peter Hitchmough

    I like whimsy, and I like the humour here. It depends on ones audience- if readers can’t handle the whimsy, might we rein it in a little, like choosing not to eat meat (dedicated to idols) to keep my brother from falling (theirs being the position of weaker faith)? Rom 14:21. I’m ok with it by the way but it did stop me in my tracks for a few seconds. Blessings too.

  14. I don’t think my faith is (particularly) weak – but God is the judge of that. & I’m all for humor, too – at human foibles. But anthropomorphic jokes about ‘God’s granny’ don’t exalt God in our eyes and are more like Monty Python’s cartoonish digs at Christianity.

    1. That is a valid opinion. However, are you so convinced that God has no sense of humor? If humor is not of God, and God isn’t capable at laughing at Godself, then it is the product of a fallen creation and we should ever strive to be purely humorless!

      What a boring world that would be.

    2. From your characterisation of the phrase as “anthropomorphic,” are we to take it that you also object to the traditional description of Mary as “Mother of God”?

  15. “Godself”? The word doesn’t exist, at least in standard English. The Bible’s pronouns for God are ‘he’ (autos), ‘his (autou) and ‘himself ‘(heauton). I’m an a Anglican priest and I follow the Bible’s practice. What’s good enough for the Lord Jesus Christ is more than good enough for me. I don’t know better than him.

    1. One of the interesting things about English, James, is that there is no such thing as “standard English”. Unlike other languages, English does not have a central authority (cf. the “English” tradition of Christianity which you are part of). Google sees “Godself” used on the internet about 60,000 times. If you are insisting on speaking only as Jesus did you would be doing so in Aramaic with, like Hebrew, pronominal suffixes. Our apophatic tradition understands gender references to God to be anthopomorphic – whilst it is also understandable in other contexts, it makes perfect sense to me that Brother David would respond to your accusations of anthropomorphism by taking care not to be anthropomorphic in relation to God. Blessings.

  16. “From your characterisation of the phrase as “anthropomorphic,” are we to take it that you also object to the traditional description of Mary as “Mother of God”?”

    The description is “traditional” among Roman Catholics, not Anglicans. I am not at all sure that ‘mater dei’ is a good translation of ‘Theotokos’ (and I teach classical Greek and Latin) but this isn’t something I’ve studied much. I am happy to honor Mary as the mother of Christ.

    1. theos ‘god’ + tokos ‘bringing forth’

      Biologically, one who brings forth another is that one’s mother. The one who brings forth one attributed to be God would logically be thought to be God’s mother, hence, ‘theotokos’ would seem to translate ‘mater dei’ (Mother of God, Madre de Dios) well enough.

  17. As an erstwhile English teacher, I disagree. There *is such a thing as standard English, even if there is no English equivalent of the Academie Francaise. It’s based on the overwhelming usage among educated native speakers of the language. You can find anything on Google. So what? The rebarbative ‘godself’ is the invention of American feminists who reject the Bible’s language. That’s their problem, not mine. If necessary, I would communicate in Aramaic (which I learnt many years ago), which distinguishes between ‘his’ and ‘her’ in its pronominal suffixes, but I’m not sure what your point is, since the NT authoritatively translates our Lord’s words into Greek. The Greek apophatic philosophical tradition is of little value to the biblical theologian and can hardly ‘correct’ the Word of God. In any case, the motive is not to avoid anthropomorphism but to exclude male language for God, whom Scripture calls Father, King, Husband and Lord of Israel.

  18. I am pretty sure that a lot more than just Statesonian feminists use Godself. Anyone who feels that they wish to be inclusive uses it.

  19. BTW, is there anything wrong with being a feminist Christian? I happen to support both sides of the coin, whether it’s politically correct or not. Anyway, the point is, Bosco is trying to educate us in a fun way, so lets not pick it apart.

  20. “James, I expect the “rebarbative” Godself will continue in use, despite your harsh disapproval.”

    I expect you are correct, this neologism may continue among neo-Gnostics and unread academics, but no Christian could use the word in prayer or preaching with a straight face. The point (as everyone knows) is that English uses it/its/itself for words that don’t denote males or females, while the language of Christ (whether in Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek) about his God and Father, accepted by his apostles, is without exception masculine. Other options for talking about divinity existed in the ancient world (among Hellenistic paganism or Vedism) but the Son of God did not use them; and his practice is normative for his disciples. Noone is obliged to follow him, only his disciples.

    1. James, you are new at commenting here. You are welcome to argue strongly for your own position and opinion but comments like “unread academics” I regard as ad hominem. Please refrain from these on this site. Similarly with a lot of the rest of your comment. I repeat – you are very welcome here; argue strongly for your point, but do so without creating straw men (sic), generalisations, ad hominems, etc. You know the drill. Blessings.

    2. I have heard plenty of folks use the word in services with a straight face since my years in seminary in the USA in the mid 1980s, almost 30 years now. Including some very well respected, well known preachers and theologians; Lutheran, United Methodist, United Church of Christ and Episcopalian.

      We differ with one another here on occasion James, but we do so on the merits of our arguments, not the level of our name calling and insults. I am a baptized, confirmed and communed Christian. I am not neo-anything and as you can see, since I am the one who sparked this discussion, I use the word Godself often when using my second language, English.

      BTW, the only thing that you know about the Son of God is what other folks wrote about him, there is no personal record to be found. Since the “reports” that we have were influenced by the culture of the times and for the specific purposes of the author and redactors, you have no idea what he may or may not have used apart from those writings. Denigrating the faith of others and judging their success as a Christian based on what you don’t know about the Son of God is an arrogant waste of time in my opinion.

      For the record, I am a nobody. A half pint-sized Mexican national with strong opinions, a US seminary graduate, an Anglican solitary, cut loose for the lack of a bishop, who participates in a handful of world-wide Anglican blogs as a hobby.

  21. By ‘unread academics’ I meant academics that hardly anyone reads. (I am sort of one myself, though my more popular writing has a wider distribution. I don’t know who reads it.) Anyone who has been to SBL/AAR knows how introspective and self-referential these things can be.

  22. I’m an Anglican priest and sometime Old Testament scholar, David, not a secular or skeptical historian. I find Richard Bauckham and Tom Wright excellent historians of the New Testament world, along with older scholars like Jeremias, and I think we have a pretty good idea of how Jesus prayed and taught. The NT for me as a priest and Christian is Holy Scripture: my norm for beleiving and praying; I can’t speak for others. I’m not surprised if liberals use neologisms like ‘Godself’, but – like Karl Barth – I’m only interested in how the Bible speaks of God. That’s the Anglican Way.

    1. James, I find most of your comment very helpful. I personally don’t think the categories of individuals like “liberal” are useful. On another thread you find the same person arguing vehemently for what would be understood as a very conservative position. As for your last sentence – it is a bold person who can in one phrase be certain that they have captured “The Anglican Way”. Blessings.

  23. Bosco, ‘liberal’ is generally understood (at least in my church and academic circles) to mean one who gives a priority or particular emphasis to human reason, culture and/or experience in settling matters of theology and theological ethics, privileging it over Bible and church tradition. It describes a trajectory in biblical studies that began with de Wette, whom I studied many years ago, and in Protestant theology with men like Schleiermacher, Ritschl and Harnack. Bultmann owed a lot to this classical liberalism (as well as to Kant, Heidegger and his own take on Luther). There are are of course varieties of liberalism: John Habgood of York (remember him?) described himself as a ‘conservative liberal’ which I think was a fair description. The new liberalism since c. the 1970s continues this trend in a cultural direction I have no problem calling myself a conservative, as long as this word doesn’t carry politcal freight.
    That people hold complex (even contradictory views) doesn’t surprise me. Consistency is hard to schieve for finite, fallen creatures like us. In my experience most liberals began in a conservative way in their religious lives, then moved away from it in a fitful way as their thinking changed. It hardly ever ratchets in the opposite direction (from secular liberalism to conservative religiosity).
    The ‘Anglican Way’ of worship as established by Cranmer and defended by Jewel in the Elizabethan settlement and then by the Caroline divines is first of all Scripture-rich (consider how much the BCP is a tapestry of Bible quotes, echoes and readings) and secondly rooted in patristic worship (the Creeds, Gloria and other prayers, which are themselves suffused with Scripture). It doesn’t use the language of philosophical or speculative theology.

    1. We could have long debates about when the Anglican Way was established, James. I am happy for you to use “liberal” as a description of a set of people in your church and in your academic circles context. Here, I will not agree with you that there is a single “liberal” position for every issue and that people who hold a “liberal” position on one thing, and a “conservative” position on another, are somehow being inconsistent and manifesting being fallen. Let’s just discuss things issue by issue and not label the individuals who hold positions – that tends to lead to more light; the other tends to generate more heat. Blessings.

  24. “Here, I will not agree with you that there is a single “liberal” position for every issue and that people who hold a “liberal” position on one thing, and a “conservative” position on another, are somehow being inconsistent and manifesting being fallen”

    Bosco, I said that *I* (like everyone else) am an inconsistent, fallen creature; but at my best, I hope I am striving to conform my mind to the Word of God. I didn’t say there was a liberal “position” on every question because liberalism is a constantly evolving, morphing frame of mind that takes its norms from (evolving, morphing) human culture: look at so-caled ‘gay marriage’ which almost noone – liberals included – thought of 30 years ago. Why has it become so salient now in the post-Christian west? To ask the question is to answer it. Or consider abortion and divorce. Are conservative Christians inconsistent? Certainly!
    Of course some people are liturgically and institutionally conservative (even ‘fundamentalist’, to use that much ill-used word) while theologically very radical – and vice versa. For years this was happening in Tec: outwardly it looked ossified in 19th century AC ritual, but doctrinally many moved far from that period. Changing familiar rituals is hard as you get older, and Tec, like most wesrtern Angicanism, is certainly getting older.

  25. Or consider the pro-life people who favor the death penalty.

    The Word of God is a person, not a book. The Word was in the beginning before there was the word of God called the Bible.

    Even though I am a feminist from the US and use the term “Godself”, my beliefs in the basics of the faith are quite orthodox. I say the Creeds without crossing my fingers. Sweeping generalizations are not useful to furthering understanding.

    June Butler

  26. “The Word of God is a person, not a book. The Word was in the beginning before there was the word of God called the Bible.”

    A false dichtomy. Of course Christ is the eternal personal Word of God. But we only have substantial knowledge of the Person through His Scriptures, which the Anglican faith calls ‘God’s word written’ (art. XX), along with enjoining the visible Church’s responsibility of ‘preach[ing] the pure Word of God’ (art. XIX).

    1. Anglican faith isn’t something that I think you can point to James, as an object in a museum. “God’s word written” is found in what for many of of is an historic document, some of whose words have no bearing on what many Anglicans today believe and practice. Modern Anglican faith is a living and growing faith, not a lifeless fossil. I am Anglican, my faith is Anglican, but it appears that it is very different from your faith, which you claim as also Anglican.

      I don’t feel very much humility or grace in your faith, at least in your practice of it amongst us here at Liturgy.com. It feels very brittle and legalistic and overly pious. You have all of those quotes and phrases down to memory well, but they feel so rote as you pronounce them to us.

  27. “Or consider the pro-life people who favor the death penalty.”

    This is only morally inconsistent if the death penalty per se were immoral (as opposed to injustices in the practice). But neither the Bible nor the Christian tradition has ever said this. Executing Timothy McVeigh was not immoral, and nor would it be immoral to execute Anders Breivik (but he won’t be, at least legally). Self-defense and defending one’s homeland in war to the point of bloodshed is not immoral. Killing unborn children is.

  28. “Anglican faith isn’t something that I think you can point to James, as an object in a museum.”

    I certainly hope not, tho’ some churches can appear like the older type of museum of my childhood, as societies of antiquarians.

    ““God’s word written” is found in what for many of of [?] is an historic document, some of whose words have no bearing on what many Anglicans today believe and practice.”

    C. S. Lewis (or was it Chesterton?) warns us to beware of chronological snobbery. The age of the Bible doesn’t bother me. God is eternal, and revelation is revelation. What you describe sounds to me like a certain kind of liberal Protestantism, with roots in the romanticism of Schleiermacher and – especially for the English – in S. T. Coleridge. This subjectivism can and often does take people way from the Bible and Creeds into a kind of unitarianism in which Jesus is a ‘man of the spirit’ but not the figure of the Chalcedonian Symbol.

    “Modern Anglican faith is a living and growing faith, not a lifeless fossil. I am Anglican, my faith is Anglican, but it appears that it is very different from your faith, which you claim as also Anglican.”

    It isn’t a question of ‘lifeless fossils’ but whether Anglicanism can survive in the Western world. It isn’t looking too healthy there now, while Global South Anglicanism is parting company with old-style liberalism. My Anglican faith is one that Wesley, Newton, Simeon, Moule and Stott would recognize as pretty much their own – even Michael Ramsey, too, for them ost part. I don’t think the same could be said of Glyn Cardy or Michael Ingham or Jack Spong, who have all laid claim to the Anglican label.

    1. I was not referring to the Bible, I was referring to the Articles, which you were alluding to and from which you borrowed the phrase, God’s word written. I likely expressed it badly, English is not my native language.

  29. I agree that some of the religio-political questions dealt with in the Articles have lost a lot of their heat since 1562, but some of the issues do resurface in different ways. Oliver O’Donovan’s book on the subject is very interesting. “God’s Word written” is a very succinct way of describing the traditional orthodox doctrine of Scripture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2.13), which shows that Cranmer was well aware that ‘the Word of God’ has other referents. Most of the Articles is a restatement of biblical and patristic theology seen through a Reformed lens.
    Your English is infinitely better than my Spanish will ever be.

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