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Humanity & the Church

Fri, Apr 28, 2017

Introduction

Humanity and the Church or, to cast them in more theological terms, theological anthropology and ecclesiology, are highly related doctrines that often get overlooked in the Christian theological community. First providing a brief history to setup a framework for theological discourse, I seek to better understand what humanity is in the eyes of and relationship to God and to define what the Church is and is called to be in the world. With a clear framework in place and the doctrines sufficiently defined, I will place Christian anthropology into conversation with ecclesiology and tease out the common theological thread in both sources that lead to a theology of Divine relationship as the true telos of the human creature and the Church.

Doctrinal Framework

Humanity

The question of who and what the human being is in the face of God, theological anthropology, is among the earliest theological questions of Christianity. Genesis 1 and 2 give an account of humanity’s origin in God’s good creation. Humanity was created in the “image of God” by God’s own hand (Gen 1:27 ESV). The first human beings, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God’s commandment to not eat of the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:16-17 ESV). The penalty of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s specific command was the entering of death and sin into God’s good creation.

Humanity’s making along with the rest of creation from nothing by God and the consequences of the fall are already enough for deep theological discourse. Christianity, however, offers much more nuance to what it means to be a creature made by an eternally triune God and born into the sin and death of humanity’s first generation. The Divine Progenitor of Christianity not only creates, but he1 assumes that which he has created. God the Son, the eternal Word, “became flesh,” a human, — the male human being Jesus Christ specifically — (John 1:14 ESV) and died upon the cross for the sins of all humankind. The event of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ opens a wellspring of additional theological possibilities to the creation narrative of first two chapters of Genesis.

From the creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2 to the narrative of Jesus’ life told in the Gospels — and the further theological implications of Jesus’ life explicated in the NT epistles — many theological questions come to the forefront of the Christian communities’ discourse about humankind. What does it mean to be created in the image of the Triune God? Why where humans created as male and female? Without the knowledge of good and evil, did Adam and Eve really have free agency? Without knowing evil could they truly sin? Is all of humanity born into death and sin because of Adam and Eve’s will and actions? Is that fair? Is that love? If humans are born into a broken relationship with God and Jesus Christ claims faith in the sufficiency of his death to heal the relationship is all that is needed, how and why does that work? Did Jesus die for everyone or only a select few? Born into sin, does humanity even have the ability to relate to an Eternal Other? These are just the surface of the questions that swell from the narrative of God amidst humanity shared in Scripture.

Irenaeus of Lyons was an early leader in Christianity’s thought on what it meant to be a human being. Contrary to the Gnostics sects that had arisen in the early days of the Jesus Movement, Irenaeus recognized the significance of being material. Humans were flesh. Being flesh is so much a part of humanity, that God became flesh and lived and died as we do in his act of assuming our sin. For Irenaeus, God’s divine image is seen in humanity in the fact that we are gifted with the agency to choose our own actions, free will. Because of this free will, humans are responsible for our own destiny — animosity with God or loving friendship with God.2

Two centuries after Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa entered the Christian theological discourse. Influenced by the same Greek philosophy that bore the Gnostic sects, Gregory downplayed the physical body in theological significance. Humanity’s creatureliness showed our finitude in contrast with God’s eternal changelessness. Gender was a sign of humankind’s brokenness and would be done away with in the New Creation. In time, through deeper relationship with God, humans would transcend our bodies into the spiritual realm of God.3

Contemporary with Gregory of Nyssa, Augustin of Hippo, too, would join the Christian theological anthropology conversation. For Augustin, humanity was gifted free will in God’s original creation. Our gender, was part of the goodness of God’s first creation and was integral to it; gender would continue to persist in the New Creation. Because of the Fall, however, humanity had so corrupted the image of God in us, that we no longer had full use of our agency; we could not choose good without God’s unconditional grace to empower us to do so. Against the theology of Pelagius, who posited that humanity did have the free will because of their humanity to choose good or evil and, thus, secure their own salvation, Augustin thought that humans could apart from God’s enablement do nothing to secure our justification.4

In the Reformation reformers would further nuance and expound upon the theology of Augustine. Martin Luther would revive Augustine’s view on the need for God’s grace to repair humanity’s agency and bring about our move into right relationship with God. John Calvin, focusing on the fallenness of humanity, would place all agency in God’s hands; humans were but chess pieces. Jakob Hermanszoon — Lat. Jacobus Arminius — would diverge from Calvin and place emphasis on Augustin’s view of God’s grace repairing humanity’s agency such that humans did have the free will, by God’s grace, to choose good or evil.

To engage with the question of anthropology from the Christian theological perspective, I will engage the following questions. First, what necessitates a human being from the Divine perspective? Second, did and/or do humanity have free agency and, if so, how? And, third, given humanity is a creature made by a Divinity, how are we and can we relate to God? Though the answers to these three questions are not sufficient to close discussion on the nature of being human in relationship to God, they do set the foundation for a framework which allows deeper discourse and theological work.

The Church

The Christian God exists eternally in a three-part relationship of love within himself. It is no surprise then, that this God draws his human creatures to organize themselves relationally, too. Ecclesiology, the theological study of the Church, is much more than a study of denominational governance structures. The Church is the most visible sign of how the followers of Jesus live out their faith in the world and with each other. A study of the Church should observe the Church’s formation and development over time. It should continually seek the places where the movement of God’s Spirit amidst and opposed to the forces of the principalities and powers of this fallen world — described in Eph 6:12 — are most visible. A study of the Church, is a study of practical theology applied to living human beings in the context of our broken creation.

The early Jesus Movement was very connected to the Jewish synagogue. As the followers of Jesus moved away from requiring adherence to Jewish purity guidelines — rejecting circumcision as requirement for joining the movement in Antioch around 48 ᴄ.ᴇ.5 — and as the movement grew in gentile members after the fall of Jerusalem to Rome in 70 ᴄ.ᴇ.6, their identity as a distinct entity autonomous from Judaism was founded.7 By the second century the entity of the Church outside of the synagogue was completely established as was the canon of Scripture and the Church’s episcopal offices of bishop, presbyter/priest, and deacon.8

Constantine’s rise to power as the emperor of the Roman Empire and Christianity’s eventual establishment as the official religion of the state were major turning points in the development of the Church’s theology of herself. Eusebius saw Constantine as a new Moses and the Church as the new kingdom of God on earth. With visions of empire and a new, heavenly kingdom, the power of the Church, especially the Bishop of Rome in the West, would grow over the fourth and fifth centuries. By the time of Augustine, the Church was visibly corrupted by the sins of empire and humanity. In this corruption, Augustine saw a true, spiritual church of Christians within the greater, obviously fallen church. The Sacraments of God’s grace mediated via the Church did not require, contra the Donatists, the Church or the priest to be holy. The Sacraments were earthly signs of grace that through God’s work always transcended humanity’s fallen condition.9

The Church, ever more influenced by the machinations of the state and the whims of secular society, would attempt to reform itself away from those influences starting with Pope Gregory VII. As the Church entered the Middle Ages, a theology of Conciliarism would emerge in the Church’s theological discourse. Against the desires of single church or state leaders, the authority of the Church was seen to be mediated through the community of believers, particularly when that community was gathered in general council together.10

In the West the ideas of Conciliarism would feed into the Protestant Reformation. The Church was to be united in community by the Word of God rather than direct ecclesial relationships. The visible church was divided, but the invisible church was united and catholic.11 Martin Luther organized the congregation around his doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and left extra-congregational church structures be dictated by the regional government. John Calvin saw the church as an instrument and mediating force of God’s salvation in the world and sought regional organization of the Church governed by elders in council. The free church reformers Menno Simons and John Smyth theologized that Luther and Calvin had not gone far enough in their reforms and that the congregation of faithful people in a holy community was the core of the Church. Congregations could form voluntary associations with each other for their common benefit, but they were to remain separate and distinct from the state.12

In England, Richard Hooker would support ecclesial pluralism. Though some ecclesiologies might be better than others, the Church is the Body of Christ on earth and various forms of church organization are valid. Calvin, Luther, Simons, etc. had formed valid bodies within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Roman Catholic, theology, would resist this movement through the Reformation period into the modern era. The Church — of Rome under the infallible authority of the Bishop of Rome — was necessary to gain salvation. The Roman Church was the sole mediator of God’s grace and was integral to the public sphere of societal culture and politics.13

The last sixty years have seen new movements and formations in the theology of the Church. Lumen Gentium out of Vatican II brought the Roman church to a more Anglican perspective of ecclesial plurality. Rome, too, affirmed that the Church was the people of God united in the common baptism which constitutes the living Body of Christ.14 Through the work of the World Council of Churches and their seminal statements on the foundational acts of the Church,15 the universal Church is beginning to heal the divisions of the Reformation and other great schisms and doing the theology required to understand the Church as she now stands.

Looking through the Church’s history and her current divided state, a framework emerges for the theological task at hand. First, how is “the Church” defined in the ecclesial pluralism of the twenty-first century? Second, how is the Church the Body of Christ and what implications does this have for her praxis? Third, what is the Church’s relationship with secular culture and politics? Should the church engage and, if so, how? The answers to these three questions, set the foundation for deeper more nuanced theological discourse about what the Church is and what she is called by the Triune God of love to be.

Constructive Engagement

Humanity

Human Being: the Divine Perspective

Since the Enlightenment especially, human beings have had a lot to say about what they are. Secular science categorizes humans, Homo sapiens, as an advanced animal, a mammal of the order Primates.16 Christian theology, however, sees more in humanity. Though we are creatures, indeed, human beings are creatures swelling out of the love of a Triune God and made in his very image (Gen 1:27). To fully understand humanity, we must not simply ask the question of what we are in the order of creation, but also what we are from the perspective of God.

Greek philosophy led to the Gnostic heresy17 of rejection of the importance of the material realm. Enlightenment thinking from Descartes into the modern era continue this line of thought by making distinctions between the immaterial spirit/mind and the physical body. I look to post-modern schools of thought — such as the thinkers of Radical Orthodoxy — for my understanding of humanity.

If God the Son truly became a male human being in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14) and if that same God Man truly continues to live an eternally resurrected life as a material being, what does that say about God’s perspective on humanity? Prior to the Incarnation, God was eternally spirit (John 4:24). Post-Resurrection, a part of God, the Son, is eternally an embodied human being (Acts 1:9-11). This crushes the dualisms of body and spirit and affirms the unity of God’s creation; being requires the participation of body and spirit in one.18

Humans are body and spirit. The two cannot be separated or distinguished between. Humans are spirit because all material is sourced from the Divine Spirit. Material is, because God created it and wills it to exist. Humanity’s materiality is a sign of our dependence on God for life. Our immateriality is a sign of our status as children of the Eternal Father.

Human/God Relationship

God, eternally spirit (John 4:24), formed the material world of humanity’s existence out of his own will and being. Before the Creation, there was no physical. Post-Creation, a new material formed and gifted19 life and existence from God entered the ethereal realm of the cosmos. As the Genesis 1 account describes, God took the new material substances he had called into existence and formed them into the physical realities of Creation; planets, stars, water, ground, vegetation, creatures, etc. Chief among this new creation, God made human beings and gifted them with his divine image (Gen 1:27).

As created beings existing as a unity of mind, body, and spirit, humanity does not exist apart from God’s will and his life-giving breath. Outside of God, nothing can exist.20 He formed Creation and, by his will alone, Creation exists and finds its movement and life. All of Creation is endued with the divine Spirit of the Creator. This alone, however, is not what makes humanity special. Humans are a special creature because we bear the image of God. Through the receiving of God’s “breath of life” (Gen 2:7 ESV) and his image, humanity is “uniquely equipped to reflect God’s life-giving back towards Creation and the Creator himself.”21 Humans are unique among Creation in that we can have relationship with God. This relationship with God is so important, that humans can only truly be said to be fully human when they are in active communion with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.22

The Triune God of Christianity, however, is not a god of the general. God seeks specific, deeply personal relationship with humanity. In the narratives shared in the Hebrew Bible from Genesis on, God shows his desire for relationship in “the particulars of specific people, in specific situations, in specific places.”23 In life of Jesus, God’s relationship with humanity goes deeper, still. Holy Scripture attests to a God who reveals himself over time and builds deep relationship with those who accept his advances of love.24 God desires to relate to us in and amidst our struggles. In worship, in anguish, in fear, in celebration, our God relates to us in the unity of our creatureliness. God approaches us as a lowly servant (Phil 2:5-11) and relates to humans both individually and in community.

Human Agency

Made in his own image, God created humankind — so St. Augustine — with the faculties for agency. This agency was to be exercised in a unidirectional relationship of life-giving with God as the source and humans as the receivers. Adam and Eve, the parents of all humanity, however, demonstrated in the Garden of Eden a willful rejection of God’s relational advances and sought an arrangement through which they could aspire to be God’s peers having autonomy from him. In this instant of rejection, a fissure was created in the relationship between God and humanity and the life-giving source of our agency was darkened.25

Because of humanity’s strained relationship to God, we are now far off from the source of goodness and holiness. Left without God, humanity is destined to only the things of death, sin, and darkness. Into this situation, God gives — via Arminius via John Wesley26 — prevenient grace to all of humanity. Through this gift of mercy, God restores enough of our faculties for agency that we can freely elect whether to accept God’s advances toward loving Creator/creature relationship or not.

Since we are not fully human without relationship with God and agency as gifted in Creation is for unbroken humanity, we presently have only limited agency. We can choose/reject God of our own free will and nothing else. If humans reject God, their agency remains an illusion and the only choices remain the death-dealing.27 In relationship with God, humans find gradual healing of the wounds of sin and thus an eventual perfection of agency; these “full” humans have agency.

The Church

What is the Church?

In the sea of denominations, schisms, New Testament restorationists movements, and other divisions and communities that identify as “the Church” what actually is the Church? The Articles of Religion28 provide a starting point for a rich definition. First, the Church is a worshiping community — a “congregation” — of faithful Christians in which the “pure Word of God is preached” and the Sacraments are “duly ministered.”29 Faithfulness is found in adherence to Scripture30 and the catholic creeds of the Eastern and Western Church.31 On the surface, this seems very straightforward, but the Articles declare certain bodies to have “erred” from faithfulness while at the same time continuing to call these bodies the Church.32

To be the Church, then is not just about orthodoxy and orthopraxy — though these are key indicators. As the pluralistic Church is not defined by governance structures or particular offices, what makes the Church is the faithful community. God is concerned about right belief for the entire community — the decalogue, for example — and he has a clear vision for the practice and organization of the sacramental/ecclesial representatives of his people as seen the book of Leviticus. Even with right acts, though, God is more concerned about the faithful hearts of his people, clergy & laity. God rejects and detests the correct practices and spoken beliefs of his community when they are not actually believed and practiced (Isaiah 1:11-17, Amos 5:21-24).

This, then, is the Church. The Church is the community of Christians who have received the Good News of Jesus Christ and earnestly seek relationship with the Triune God and his Creation. Though right belief and right practice are important for the discipleship God has commanded his people to do (Matt 28:19-20), God’s ultimate discernment lies with the heart and not the clarity of the mind.33

The Body of Christ & Praxis

To say that the Church is a community of the faithful does not go far enough in defining what precisely the Church is. In baptism Christians become living members of the literal Body of Christ in the world (1 Cor 12:13,27). This is an ontological change that goes hand in hand with Jesus’ call to discipling (Matt 28:19-20). Being the Body of Christ has huge implications for what the Church is to those at the margins of society and outside the Christian faith.

Louis-Marie Chauvet sees the Sacraments of the church — baptism and Holy Communion, especially — as the symbolic language that bridges and mediates the realm of God with that of the lived human experience.34 In a similar or at least compatible way, Radical Orthodoxy sees participation in the material and bodily as the model which God provides for understanding and redemption.35 In baptism and Eucharist, God is constituting the Body of Christ, the faithful community who are in loving relationship with God.

Because God is physical both in the particular body of Jesus Christ and in the body of the communion of saints on Earth and in Heaven, the Church is a constituent part of that body takes on flesh. In its fleshiness, the Church is called to remember the solidarity of God alongside suffering humanity. As the Body of God in the world, the Church is to stand as God’s body in the world remembering his loving solidarity in the narrative of Scripture and person of Jesus Christ and to emulate that life in the present.36 To be the Body of Christ means the Church is called to ethical actions of deep solidarity in the word.

Church, State, and “the World”

As a pluralistic community of faithful Christians constituting the flesh of God in the world, the Church has much to speak into the secular, political world. Already visibly corrupted by sin in the days of Augustine,37 the Church has not been immune to the corruptive sickness of power and empire. Amidst the sin and corruption, however, Augustine’s invisible church filled with Rieger’s “life-giving theologies of surplus” exists and makes space for the Church to speak against empire.38

Against the forces of empire that preach eternal conflict between individuals and provides false communities of peace, the Church preaches and attempts to live into the restoration of God’s original unity and communion in Creation.39 In our original state there was no identity outside that of the group, humanity. The Fall brought the individualistic opposition leveraged by the modern state and market.40

As the Church calls to remembrance the Body of Christ in solidarity with the world each Eucharist, it is reminding the world of the church’s anarchy.41 Jesus is Lord of the Christian and the Church. United as the Body in Holy Communion the church proclaims the sovereignty of God above the market and liberal democracies. These false communities promise humanity that which it desires, when the true telos of humanity’s desires and needs can only be provided by God within relationship to his Creation and his holy community, the Church.42

Constructive Conversation

Body of Bodies

Humanity is not at odds with Creation, nor trying to escape the material realm. God created all material out of love. Assuming the material in the Incarnation and eternally retaining the material in the Resurrection, God is now forever material. The Church as the Body of Christ, made of material bodies, and instituted by the Incarnate flesh of God is an integral part of what God is calling humanity to be; this is humanity’s telos.43

The Church is a “body of bodies” on so many levels. First, it is the faithful community of human beings — a total union of spirit and body — in free chosen relationship with God. Second, in Eucharist the Church calls into existence the Body of Christ both in his presence in the elements on the table, but also within and around the human bodies experiencing the ritual.44 Outside of the rituals of Sacrament, bodies not even — or, to be more evangelical, yet — part of the Body are affected as Christian bodies, who are now God’s body enter the world and stand alongside other bodies in solidarity with suffering.

The things that apply to humanity apply to the Church because the Church is simply humanity living out the Divine Image. The Divine Image imprinted upon the human creature calls us to relationship with God and those things which reflect his life-giving breath.45 Humans are uniquely equipped by God with the faculties to reflect God’s light back to God and on to others. Like God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to be in God’s image means an ability and a desire for deep relationships of reflecting and receiving love in an enteral community. This is the Church. This is humanity as it is meant to exist.

The Church is an institution of the Fall. The New Creation will remove the entity of the self and restore the total unity of God and his human creatures. No longer at odds, there will be no need of a mediator between God and humanity. Sanctified humanity will be at one with God and one with each other.46

The modern state and the hyper-competitive global market put everyone at odds with everyone else in an environment of scarcity.47 With rules, power, oppression and lies they seek a false peace and hope. God alone deals in a realm without scarcity. As the source of all things he is continually creating new life and new love. His supplies will never be depleted and he necessitates no competition between his creatures. God’s abundance of love to one human does not take away love that another human could have received. There is always, always more.48

Created, material, spiritual, and intellectual human bodies in non-competitive, loving, peaceful relationship with each other, this is the end to which God calls humanity. As the Church of bodies unified into the Body of Christ through the Sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, the Church is humanity in right relationship with the Triune God and, through God, with each other. Divine relationship in the image of the Creating Trinity is the telos of the human creature and the Church, it is the goal of Christian anthropology and ecclesiology.


Works Cited & Referenced

Anglican Church in North America. Texts for Common Prayer: Containing Forms for Daily Morning Prayer, Daily Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion, as Approved by the College of Bishops for Use within the Province ; Together with the Ordinal of the Anglican Church in North America A.D. 2013. Newport Beach, Calif.: Anglican House Publishers, 2013.

Anglican Church in North America, and Catechesis Task Force. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism. Ambridge, PA: Anglican House Pub Inc, 2014.

Arnold, Michael. “God’s Self Revelation.” Marmanold.com. Accessed April 28, 2017. https://www.marmanold.com/theology/gods-self-revelation/.

Arnold, Michael. “The Doctrine of Sin.” Marmanold.com. Accessed April 28, 2017. https://www.marmanold.com/theology/the-doctrine-of-sin/.

Articles of Religion of the Church of England. London, England: 1571.

Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. Faith and Order Paper, no. 111. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982.

Bordeyne, Philippe, and Bruce T. Morrill, eds. Sacraments: Revelation of the Humanity of God: Engaging the Fundamental Theology of Louis-Marie Chauvet. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 2008.

Chauvet, Louis-Marie. Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1995.

Cross, F. L, Elizabeth A Livingstone, and Oxford University Press. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001/acref-9780192802903.

“Ecclesiology.” Wikipedia, March 1, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ecclesiology&oldid=768072101.

“Homo Sapiens | Hominin.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed April 28, 2017. https://www-britannica-com.proxy.library.vanderbilt.edu/topic/Homo-sapiens.

Jones, Serene, Paul Lakeland, and Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology, eds. Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes with CD-ROM. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.

“Louis Marie Chauvet « T H E O • P H I L O G U E.” Accessed April 28, 2017. https://theophilogue.com/tag/louis-marie-chauvet/.

Maddox, Randy L. Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology. Nashville, Tenn: Kingswood Books, 1994.

Milbank, John, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward, eds. Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology. London ; New York: Routledge, 1999.

Morrill, Bruce T. Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory: Political and Liturgical Theology in Dialogue. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 2000.

Rieger, Joerg. Christ & Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007.

Smith, James K. A. Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology. Kindle Edition, Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2004.

Tanner, Kathryn. Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology. 1st Fortress Press ed. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Wesley, John, Albert Cook Outler, and Richard P. Heitzenrater. John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1991.


Pronouns for God: An Explanation

I am presently working through the ordination process of the Special Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). As a to-be priest I am already expected by my bishop and the greater church to uphold the covenants I will make with God and to his Church in my ordination vows. One of my vows will be to “reverently obey [my] Bishop […] according to the Canons of the Church.”49 The canons of the ACNA include the Articles of Religion,50 the Prayer Book of 1662, the proposed texts of the ACNA Prayer Book of 2019,51 the catholic creeds52, and the ACNA catechism,53 among others. By vow, by personal choice, by adherence to my Anglican tradition, and out of a faithful desire to serve my community, I hold to these standards in all my theological work.

In the liturgy of my tradition and by teaching in the catechism, the first person of the Trinity is named God the Father. Further, the second person of the Trinity, named God the Son, through the Incarnation took on the human form as the male human being, Jesus Christ. Further still, the catechism teaches that because Jesus Christ called God “Abba, Father”, used masculine language for God, and taught his disciples to do the same (Matt 6:9, Rom 8:15-17, Gal 4:4-7) Anglicans, to remain faithful to apostolic teaching and the catholic tradition of the Church, are to do the same.54

By using masculine language for God I do not desire to imply a superiority of the sexes. Scripture clearly teaches the equality of gender in the Body of Christ (Gal 3:28). I do not intend to set a general rule for the universal Church to follow or reject fellowship with those who do not follow my practice or the Anglican tradition. For me, the use of masculine language for God is a sign of faithfulness to my community and a matter of integrity so that I can with clear conscience make the vows I will be required to make at my ordination.


  1. For an explanation of my use of masculine language for God through out this essay, please reference “Pronouns for God: An Explanation” following the Works Cited & Referenced information at the end of this work. [return]
  2. Serene Jones, Paul Lakeland, and Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology, eds., Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes with CD-ROM (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 85-86. [return]
  3. Ibid. 87-88. [return]
  4. Ibid., 90-93. [return]
  5. Serene Jones, Paul Lakeland, and Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology, eds., Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes with CD-ROM (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 211. [return]
  6. F. L Cross, Elizabeth A Livingstone, and Oxford University Press, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001/acref-9780192802903. [return]
  7. Serene Jones, Paul Lakeland, and Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology, eds., Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes with CD-ROM (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 211. [return]
  8. Ibid., 211. [return]
  9. Ibid., 211-212. [return]
  10. Ibid., 213-214. [return]
  11. F. L Cross, Elizabeth A Livingstone, and Oxford University Press, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001/acref-9780192802903. [return]
  12. Ibid., 214-215. [return]
  13. Ibid., 215-216. [return]
  14. F. L Cross, Elizabeth A Livingstone, and Oxford University Press, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001/acref-9780192802903. [return]
  15. Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper, no. 111 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982). [return]
  16. “Homo Sapiens | Hominin,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed April 28, 2017, https://www-britannica-com.proxy.library.vanderbilt.edu/topic/Homo-sapiens. [return]
  17. When I speak of heresy, I speak of it as defined by my Anglican tradition. I respect that from other viewpoints, the creedal faith of the Western Church is a “heresy.” [return]
  18. James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, Kindle Edition (Baker Publishing Group, 2004), locations 1449-1450, 4309-4311. [return]
  19. Kathryn Tanner, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology, 1st Fortress Press ed (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001), chs 1-3. [return]
  20. James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, Kindle Edition (Baker Publishing Group, 2004), location 1459. [return]
  21. Michael Arnold, “The Doctrine of Sin,” Marmanold.com, accessed April 28, 2017, https://www.marmanold.com/theology/the-doctrine-of-sin/. [return]
  22. Ibid. Kathryn Tanner, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology, 1st Fortress Press ed (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001), chs 1-3.

    [return]
  23. Michael Arnold, “God’s Self Revelation,” Marmanold.com, accessed April 28, 2017, https://www.marmanold.com/theology/gods-self-revelation/. [return]
  24. Ibid. [return]
  25. Michael Arnold, “The Doctrine of Sin,” Marmanold.com, accessed April 28, 2017, https://www.marmanold.com/theology/the-doctrine-of-sin/. James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, Kindle Edition (Baker Publishing Group, 2004), locations 5389-5397, 5410-5412.

    [return]
  26. Randy L. Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology (Nashville, Tenn: Kingswood Books, 1994), 83-87. [return]
  27. To use the words of Dr. Joerg Rieger. [return]
  28. Articles of Religion of the Church of England. London, England: 1571. [return]
  29. Ibid., art. XIX. [return]
  30. Ibid., art. VI. [return]
  31. Ibid., art. VIII [return]
  32. Ibid. [return]
  33. “Without holiness, I own, no man shall see the Lord; but I dare not add, or clear ideas.” John Wesley, Albert Cook Outler, and Richard P. Heitzenrater, John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1991), 572.

    [return]
  34. Louis-Marie Chauvet, Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1995). [return]
  35. James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, Kindle Edition (Baker Publishing Group, 2004), locations 1449-1450, 1480-1481. [return]
  36. Bruce T. Morrill, Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory: Political and Liturgical Theology in Dialogue (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 2000). [return]
  37. Serene Jones, Paul Lakeland, and Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology, eds., Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes with CD-ROM (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 212. [return]
  38. Joerg Rieger, Christ & Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007). [return]
  39. James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, Kindle Edition (Baker Publishing Group, 2004), location 5389-5397. [return]
  40. Ibid., location 5410-5412. [return]
  41. John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward, eds., Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology (London ; New York: Routledge, 1999), 182. [return]
  42. James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, Kindle Edition (Baker Publishing Group, 2004), location 5430-5432. [return]
  43. James K. A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2004). [return]
  44. Louis-Marie Chauvet, Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1995). [return]
  45. Kathryn Tanner, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology, 1st Fortress Press ed (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001). [return]
  46. James K. A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2004). [return]
  47. Ibid. [return]
  48. Kathryn Tanner, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology, 1st Fortress Press ed (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001). [return]
  49. Anglican Church in North America, Texts for Common Prayer: Containing Forms for Daily Morning Prayer, Daily Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion, as Approved by the College of Bishops for Use within the Province ; Together with the Ordinal of the Anglican Church in North America A.D. 2013. (Newport Beach, Calif.: Anglican House Publishers, 2013), 128. [return]
  50. Articles of Religion of the Church of England. London, England: 1571. [return]
  51. Anglican Church in North America, Texts for Common Prayer: Containing Forms for Daily Morning Prayer, Daily Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion, as Approved by the College of Bishops for Use within the Province ; Together with the Ordinal of the Anglican Church in North America A.D. 2013. (Newport Beach, Calif.: Anglican House Publishers, 2013). [return]
  52. Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles’ [return]
  53. Anglican Church in North America and Catechesis Task Force, To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism (Ambridge, PA? Anglican House Pub Inc, 2014). [return]
  54. Ibid., 20. [return]