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David, Goliath, and Mother Emmanuel

Posted: July 9, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

I preached this sermon on Sunday June 21st after Dylann Roof entered into Mother Emmanuel AME church and opened fire killing nine innocent African-American men and women. Although I did address this tragedy directly in my Sunday sermon, I have typed up this manuscript paying special attention to the issue of racism in our society today.

             As we move through our series on David, we come this morning to a story that almost needs no introduction; the story of David and Goliath. It would be easy this Father’s Day to address the story of David and Goliath like this: “Goliath was a giant. We all face giants. As dads, we face giants of time management, changing culture, and media saturation. David faced his giants, and if you follow these principles, you can face your giants too.” We could do this with any number of giants in our lives, addictions, disease, racism, political divisions, etc. etc. The problem is, however, that facing your giants is not the point of this story. In order to get at exactly what this story is about, let’s do some background.

As our story begins, Saul has lined up the armies of Israel against the philistine army. The Philistines were not, as modern parlance would indicate, an uncivilized and unadvanced people group. Quite the opposite is actually true. Contemporary historical accounts speak of a people group identified as “The Sea People,” or Peleset, from which we likely get the name “Philistine.” The peleset were a fierce warrior people with highly advanced weaponry and military capabilities. Ancient Egyptian records speak of them attacking Egypt under Ramses III, effectively neutralizing the powerful empire of Egypt. Many historians believe the peleset were the people responsible for overthrowing the dominant empire in the Western Mediterranean, the Hittite Empire. Not only that, but it is likely the Peleset that swept across Mycenaen Greece, destroying their civilization across the time of a 100 or so years and plunging Greek civilization into a 300 year long “dark age.” In other words, these people had toppled or neutralized the most powerful kingdoms and empires of the day. (more…)

After the Glorious Revolution for one reason or another, the British royalty began to view the church not as an instrument of spiritual vitality for the nation, but stability. Perhaps they’d seen the tumult caused by both the civil war and William’s ascendancy and they didn’t want any more of that religious squabbling. Whatever the reason, the broad church principles of Latitudinarianism became the raison de etre of the church during the Hanoverian dynasties. Thus, the church of the 1700’s was a church that was governed mainly by two pieces of scripture “Everything decent and in good order”(1 Cor 14:40) and “do not be overly zealous.”(Romans 10:2) During this time, the authorities in and over the church viewed with apprehension those who held passionately to the core doctrines of the Reformation, including the need for individuals to respond to the gospel with faith and repentance and be, in the words of Jesus, “born again.” One of the most damning accusations you could make against a churchman or priest in this age was to accuse him of “Enthusiasm”.

Many of those accused of “enthusiasm” would fit well into what we have described as “Reformation Anglicans”(with some serious differences we’ll discuss later). Men like Charles Simeon, John Newton, and Augustus Toplady led great revivals and sought not only to bring British people to Christ, but to bring the Gospel to bear in the Church of England. They were rarely greeted with open arms in the Church of England though. Simeon’s own congregation hated him and the wardens even locked up the church so no one could come and hear him preach! John Newton sought ordination in the Church of England for seven years before a wealthy benefactor, Lord Dartmouth, finally procured an appointment for him and persuaded a bishop to ordain him. Regardless of the fact that Newton turned down dozens of offers to serve in dissenter churches, almost every bishop he spoke to questioned his loyalty to the Church of England. Ever since the restoration of the monarchy in the 1600’s, the theological descendants of the Reformation have lived in the Church of England mostly on the margins. (more…)

This is part three in a series on how Anglicanism has viewed itself in different times and different places.  Look here for part I and here for part II.  

A few years ago, I was setting up our chapel for a worship service. We don’t have a pulpit in the chapel, so we use a sort of moveable podium when we need one. This podium had been set up right in front of the altar (which, by the way, was set up not as a table, but an altar). One faithful woman questioned this. “Wouldn’t it be more Anglican to move the pulpit to the side and have the altar in the center?” Behind her question was the assumption that resides in many American Anglican churches, that High Churchmanship has a greater claim to being legitimately Anglican than Reformation ideas or even broad Anglican Evangelicalism. If what I have said about the history of Anglicanism so far is true, then how did we get here?

In order to understand how we got here, we must look at a particular movement within Anglicanism that doesn’t tend to get a lot of attention, even though it has profoundly impacted Anglicanism in North America. At the end of the Carolinian period, James II succeeded Charles II as King. Many had already suspected Charles II of having Catholic sympathies. James confirmed their suspicions when he converted to Catholicism. In response, James’ detractors in parliament invited his Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange, to invade England and oust the Catholic King. William accepted the proposal and came to the throne in what has come to be known as The Glorious Revolution, due to the fact that James fled before any blood could be shed. (more…)

Will The Real Anglicanism Please Stand Up?

Posted: May 11, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

“Are they even Anglican?” “We aren’t Baptists, we’re Episcopalians.” “He’s just a Presbyterian with robes on.” As a Reformation Anglican, you would think I would get used to hearing these kinds of statements. I have to admit, even after over a decade of active leadership in Anglican and Episcopal ministries, it still surprises me when I hear people articulate a monolithic understanding of what Anglicanism is. For this reason, it’s important that we ask the question “What does it mean to be authentically Anglican?” While this question seems straightforward at first, through Anglicanism’s 450 plus years some very different answers have been offered. This series of posts will examine some of the main ways Anglicans have identified themselves through the years.

            I must be honest, I am approaching this as a self-identified Reformation Anglican, and I do have a bias as to how Anglicanism should identify itself (not how it does, nor even how it must) and that bias rests on how I define what is meant by “One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” My case here is not to say, however, that Reformation Anglicanism (as we’ll define it in this post) is the only legitimate Anglican identity, but rather to simply make the case that Reformation Anglicanism is a legitimate Anglican identity, that we do have a seat in the boardroom.

It is also my hope that by more clearly lining out the differences with which Anglicans have approached their faith, we might more clearly think about some of the controversies we face. I have a friend who, due to a childhood illness, does not remember anything before her 7th or 8th birthday. She has built her recollection of her childhood largely off of what her family members have told her. There is a significant amount of institutional amnesia in American Anglicanism and it is my hope that we would build our memory not off of what we may have been taught in confirmation class, but on the facts of history itself. We will begin this series with where Anglicanism began

REFORMATION ANGLICANISM:

By Reformation Anglicanism, I mean Anglicanism as it developed during the time of the Reformation. Reformation Anglicanism was dominant in the Church of England from the reign of Edward VI through Elizabeth I (of course, with the exception of Mary Tudor’s reign). Reformation Anglicanism was largely formed under the leadership of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. It claims such heroes as Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, John Jewell, and Richard Hooker to name a few. The doctrine of Reformation Anglicanism is contained mainly in the Edwardian prayer books (1549 and 1552), the Articles of Religion, and the Book of Homilies.

Careful and objective study of these documents seats Anglicanism at this time firmly within the trajectory of the Magisterial Reformation. Later historic revision recast this period as an attempt to pave a middle way (via media) between the church in Rome and the Reformed church in Geneva (led by John Calvin). I believe a careful study of the history and theology of the Anglican Reformers themselves (as opposed to their later historians) will show that if the Church in England were paving any middle way, it was more of a middle point between Calvin’s Geneva and Luther’s Wittenberg.[1] I do not say this as a polemical statement, but rather to say that it is the best interpretation of historical facts. The Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Book of Homilies all clearly articulate a form of doctrine that is much more in line with Reformation doctrine than that of the Roman Catholic Church. (more…)

Are You a Christian?

Posted: April 20, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

Turns out I wrote way too much for this sermon and had to cut a lot of it to try and keep some decent level of respect for our timeframe, but I wanted to share the rest of the text.  

Are you a Christian? Perhaps you are here today and your conscience is grieving over some past offense or some ongoing offense.  Perhaps you hear other people’s conversions and look at your own life and you don’t see anything like it. Sometimes I think doing drugs and ending up in jail is a prerequisite for becoming a Christians. Perhaps you look at other “superchristians” and your life simply doesn’t match up. Perhaps you have taken a stab at following Christ more intentionally and it just seems impossible. Perhaps you are just like so many people who feel so close to God here on Sunday morning, and if you’re lucky, that feeling doesn’t dissipate until Monday morning. Most weeks, you hardly make it to your car in the parking lot. You look at your life and you look at the Bible or you look at other Christians and you think “Am I even a Christian?” John is writing to you.

Or maybe those aren’t your issues. Perhaps you’ve never really been truly bothered by the question “Are you a Christian?” Your parents raised you in the church. The only drug problem you ever had was that you got drug to church on Sunday morning, you got drug to church on Sunday evening, you got drug to church on Wednesday evening… Perhaps you have been taught, as a dear friend of mine was once told by her priest “You have been born again. You’ve been baptized.”   (Never mind the fact that Hitler was baptized, confirmed, received mass, and was a communicant in good standing until 1941.) Perhaps the question has never bothered you. In quite a different way, this letter is for you. (more…)

Ken Boyd 1945-2015: Eulogy

Posted: March 12, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

The weekend before Dad got sick, he, his wife, and I were talking about my cousin, Luke’s, funeral.  Be commented that she didn’t want me to have to do that when she died.  Dad couldn’t understand this.  He was proud of me and loved to hear me preach.  As hard as it was, it was an honor to preach the gospel at his funeral.  

I am here today to do two things. First, I am here to remember my dad. Secondly, however, I am here to do what the apostle Paul said to the young pastor Timothy “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.”

So, you are here today because you loved my dad. And I have been thinking how best to remember Dad. I thought of something, and maybe it’s a bit irreverent, but I’ll give it a try anyway. You all know the poem, The Night Before Christmas”? Clement Clarke Moore didn’t describe Santa the way you and I tend to think of him. His Santa wasn’t the coke can Santa that stalks the malls around Christmas time. Listen to what he says, and I think you’ll agree he bears a striking resemblance to Dad.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! (That was from the scotch)
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; (Dad’s beard never got white, but he did use Just for Men one time. Bev said he looked like he guy from the Oxyclean Infomercials.)
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. (Now that’s dad)
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

Again, I don’t mean to be irreverent or disrespect Dad in any way, but in an odd way it does sort of encompass how I think about Dad. He was a jolly old elf. And he brought a lot of joy and laughter into a lot of lives.

You’re here today because of what Dad meant to you. Perhaps you worked with him at IBM. You saw his competence and his genius. My dad was genuinely brilliant. He could build a car, or a house, or a computer or a radio that could bounce radio waves off the moon. But you may have also seen what I saw, that he worked hard and did his job well, but he never climbed the company ladder, and he never, NEVER, put his career before his family. (more…)

If I only had this!

Posted: June 26, 2014 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

            “I’d work harder if my boss would get off my case.” “I wouldn’t yell at my kids if I could just get more sleep.” “I wouldn’t look if she didn’t dress that way.” “I would eat better if I could afford better food.” “I wouldn’t get so mad if my husband would just get a clue.”

            We all know we fall short of the mark in many different ways. Yet when we try and figure out why we do, all too often we assume that the problems are external. However, the Apostle Peter tells us “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”(2 Peter 1:3 NIV) Which is it? Have I been given all I need for life and godliness? Or are my circumstances and experiences hindering my pursuit of godliness?

            My experience tells me the latter is what is true. I feel like if I had everything I needed to be godly, then I’d have my anger under control, I’d never be tempted to lust, I’d work diligently and rest peacefully. In fact, at times I’ve even been tempted to wonder if God wants me to act a certain way why doesn’t He give me what I need and take away what holds me back? John Newton expressed this disillusionment perfectly in his hymn “I asked the Lord.”

 

“I thought that in some favored hour

At once He’d answer my request

And by His love’s constraining power

Subdue my sins and give me rest.”

           So far, this has not been my experience. Has God, then, let me down? Has He withheld some thing that I need in order to follow Him? In other words, is it really Him who’s tempting me since He’s the one who is in charge of my circumstances?

            James tells us clearly “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.”(James 1:13) In other words, “temptation is not external, it’s internal.” If we were pure of heart, circumstances wouldn’t be tempting to us.

            Some use this verse to say that God doesn’t control our circumstances because that would be tantamount to tempting us. That misses the point of the verse and a major theme in James. God allows temptation to come along not to deceive us into sinning. Rather, because He knows sin lies in our hearts, He graciously allows us to enter into circumstances that reveal what is already in our hearts.

            What’s the point of all this? Again, Newton says it well:

“These inward trials I employ

From self and sin to set the free

To break thy schemes of earthly joy

That thou may find thy all in me.”