Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a sneak peek: Old Dudes with Beards


I will be teaching a class entitled "Old Dudes with Beards: A Five Week Dash Through Anglican Theology, History, and Prayer."  Here is the synopsis for the first session:


Part 1: An Unfortunately Brief Introduction

            I have some news that is exactly 476 years old – there is controversy within the Anglican Church.  For almost five full centuries (not just since 2003) the English Church and its branches around the world have been struggling to find common ground amidst religious upheaval and political turmoil.  Today, faithful Anglicans around the world use their best (and worst) rhetorical capabilities to prove their own undoubtedly correct position.  Many have pointed to the past and claimed that their ideas have a direct link to our Anglican heritage, but pointing to theology quickly descends into pointing at one another. 
            At St. Alban’s in Waco we are trying a different, and I pray, a holier approach.  By studying that peculiar thing called Anglicanism, we are putting together our identity as Episcopalians.  This course is entitled “Old Dudes with Beards: A Five Week Dash Through Anglican Theology, History, and Prayer.”  Our goal is to study our Anglican forefathers’ (and foremothers’) contributions to Christianity and to apply their thoughts and methods to our corporate and individual lives. 
            Our first class will cover three ideas that have been fundamental in the construction of Anglican theologies over the past five centuries.  First, various old dudes with beards are going to teach us about the ends and purposes of our belief.  For instance, Lancelot Andrewes famously wrote to his Catholic counterpart, “Christ said, ‘This is My Body.’ He did not say, ‘This is My Body in this way.’ We are in agreement with you as to the end; the whole controversy is as to the method.” 
Next, the people of St. Alban’s are going to investigate the time-honored phrase lex orandi lex credendi.  We are going to embark on a study of how that mysterious and ineffable substance and supplication, prayer, shapes what we believe as Christians.  As Anglicans we know that prayer is not an extended session of navel gazing.  Rather, prayer is ritual, action, and ancient narrative dramatically enacted in worship.
           The third and final idea that we receive from our Anglican heritage is an oft abused phrase, via media.  At St. Alban’s, by studying Anglican history, we want to discover what it means to be a middle way by borrowing from both sides of a controversy and emerging stronger.  Perhaps the old dudes with beards have something to teach us after all.

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