Saturday, February 28, 2004

No, Really, I'm an Episcopalian!

Well, technically, the Episcopal Church USA doesn't have any official statement of beliefs beyond the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds and that the New and Old Testaments make up the Bible. Other than that, I think most other stuff is pretty much open to interpretation. However, Fearsome Pirate is pretty unhappy with those of differing beliefs. He lists fourteen things he regards as heresies, which I present below in slightly-edited form (mostly for language). Remember, the things he lists are what he considers to be heresies, not orthodox teachings.

"1. Denial of the validity of baptism by modes other than submersion, or any similar such legalism
2. Denial of the validity of infant baptism
3. Denial that baptism is unrepeatable
4. That unless a man prays and asks Jesus into his heart/makes a personal decision, he will not be saved.
5. That if a man prays and asks Jesus into his heart, then he will most certainly be saved, even if he falls into public sin and does not repent (Once Saved, Always Saved).
6. Dispensationalism
7. That one must experience a second "baptism of the Spirit" in addition to Trinitarian baptism in order to be saved/have the Holy Spirit/be a mature Christian, and that this "baptism" consists of speaking in tongues/charismatic gifts/experiencing a burning feeling/etc.
8. Not holding orthodox Trinitarianism
9. Limited Atonement
10. Denial of original sin, that is, that little children, too, are born in sin and need salvation--and are not saved simply by virtue of being too young to be sinners.
11. Puritan-style iconoclasm
12. Open theism
13. Full preterism
14. That if you are sick and unhealed, it is because you don't have enough faith."

You, gentle readers, may (or may not!) be pleased to know that according to this definition, I am not a heretic! Actually that would be a pretty cool tag-line...hmm...
A few clarifications, though: false baptisms (such as non-Trinitarian) don't count (#3); Confirmation is a sacrament which should be done by believers, but is not a second baptism (#7); I believe in Original Sin, but I'm confused by his example (#10); I don't have an objection to partial preterism (#13); and it's possible that you may be sick because you don't believe, though not necessarily so (#14).

Well, as it is, I'm pretty sure I'm on the very extreme "Catholic" fringe of those in Navigators, both here at Tech and worldwide. I know my director and I disagree on quite a few doctrines, as do several of the guys in my Bible study.

I mean, let's be honest: I don't have too much of a problem with what's in the Augsburg Confession, or most Lutheran beliefs. I do think that a priest (that is, one who administers the sacraments) should be "regularly called" and consecrated by someone who is at least a priest, and preferably a bishop (which can have a fairly loose definition, I suppose). Obviously, if one isn't available, that doesn't limit God's ability to work, but it might be a sin to administer sacraments if not regularly called and not properly consecrated to do, provided another priest or bishop is available. Likewise, the Baptism should use water and the Eucharist should use unleavened bread and wine, but these are not essential if completely unavailable. Thus, if a non-Christian friend and I were lost in the desert, with only a Snickers bar and a Coke, and with little or no hope of rescue, I believe I could act as a priest and baptize him with some of the Coke, then consecrate the Snickers and remaining Coke to serve as the Eucharist. God is not limited by the sacraments. Cases don't have to be as extreme as I've described, but, for instance, if you're in a country where wine (I'll be generous and include grape juice here) simply can't be obtained, you could use something else.

Anyway, I've rambled, and possibly committed some heresy not envisioned by the Fearsome Pirate. I'll go to bed now.

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