Friday, May 25, 2012


Our mission at Holy Cross Anglican Church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teach classical Anglican faith and practice. You won’t find anything new here, just “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3 ). 
The Gospel was brought to the British Isles by St. Joseph of Arimathea, the disciple who buried Christ after the crucifixion. Gildas the Wise (AD 425-512), an early British historian wrote, “Christ, the True Sun, afforded His light, the knowledge of his precepts to our island in the last year, as we know, of Tiberius Caesar.” The last year of Tiberius Caesar was AD 37, just a few years after the resurrection and ascension of Christ! The Church has existed in Britain from that time until today without a break in its continuity, and has since spread all around the world.
In the 16th century the bishops of the Anglican Church launched a Reformation to cleanse the Church from medieval doctrinal and moral corruptions and to restore the faith and practice of the early Church. In 1562, Anglican Bishop John Jewel wrote, “We have returned to the Apostles and the old Catholic Fathers. We have planted no new religion, but only preserved the old that was undoubtedly founded and used by the Apostles of Christ and other holy Fathers of the Primitive Church.” And Archbishop John Bramhall (1594-1663) of Armagh in Ireland wrote, “I make not the least doubt in the world, but that the Church of England before the Reformation and the Church of England after the Reformation are as much the same Church as a garden before it is weeded and after it is weeded is the same garden; or a vine before it is pruned and after it is pruned and freed from luxuriant branches is one and the same vine.”
The canon of Convocation which imposed subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion upon the clergy in the reign of Elizabeth I, directed preachers “to be careful that they never teach ought in a sermon, to be religiously taught and held by the people, except what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments, and what the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected out of the same doctrine.” Dr. E. B. Pusey, the great 19th century Anglican theologian wrote, “The Church of England has, from the Reformation held implicitly, in purpose of heart, all which the ancient Church ever held” (The Rule of Faith, p. 42).
Classical Anglicanism combines Evangelical Truth and Catholic Order.  Anglicanism, when it is true to itself, is Evangelical Catholicism. As Evangelicals we are Biblical Christians who proclaim the centrality of the cross, emphasize the necessity of personal conversion, and are committed to evangelism and activism. As Catholics we are Churchmen, committed to the historic visible Church which is the Body of which Christ is the Head, possess the Catholic ministry of male bishops, presbyters  (priests) and deacons in Apostolic Succession, emphasize the three Creeds as faithful summaries of orthodox Christian doctrine, believe in the sacraments as objective means of grace with the Holy Eucharist as the center and summit of our spirituality, and proclaim the universal call to holiness.
Orthodox Anglicanism is both thoroughly Evangelical and fully Catholic. Holy Cross parish is committed to the classical Anglican formularies: the historic Book of Common Prayer and its Ordinal and Catechism, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, and the two Books of Homilies, interpreted according to the Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins; and to embracing the fullness of our Anglican inheritance: the Church Fathers, Doctors, Reformers, Caroline Divines, and Tractarians. 
After the cultural and social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s the Universal Church is in need of a New Reformation, a restoration of  Apostolic faith and practice, and a revival of Evangelical witness and mission in an increasingly secular world. Holy Cross parish is committed to proclaiming the Gospel, teaching classical Anglicanism, and to advancing the New Reformation and realignment in the Anglican Communion. 
Because the Anglican Church is both thoroughly Evangelical and fully Catholic, Anglicanism has a special vocation to serve as a healing balm in a divided Christendom and as  a bridge Church to bring Christians back together again in one Body. This is authentic ecumenism, not a false ecumenism based on doctrinal indifference and political compromise. 
The bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion, gathered in 1867 at the Lambeth Conference said, “We do here solemnly record our conviction that unity will be be most effectively promoted by maintaining the faith in its purity and integrity, as taught by Holy Scripture, held by the primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils.” It would be hard to find a more succinct definition of the orthodox Christian faith. It is this faith that we hold, confess and teach.
I hope that you will accept my personal invitation to worship with us at Holy Cross Anglican Church. We have members throughout Eastern Nebraska, in Western Iowa, and even South Dakota. Why are people willing to drive so far to go to church? Because they have found a church worth the drive. We celebrate the Holy Communion every Sunday at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments after worship and a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of the month. We are a faithful and friendly church, and we have a place for you!

Monday, May 14, 2012


The question is sometimes asked whether Anglicanism is Evangelical or Catholic. The answer is that classical Anglicanism is both Evangelical and Catholic at the same time. These are not contradictory terms, but are actually complimentary. Anglicanism is Evangelical Catholicism. Evangelical, properly understood, is an adjective, not a noun. Catholic on the other hand is a noun.

With the divisions in Christendom in the last 500 years this has become obscured. Even in Anglicanism, unhealthy church parties, or schools of theology, developed in the 19th century professing to be exclusively "Evangelical" or "Anglo-Catholic." How did this happen?

The word Catholic means universal, whole and complete. In AD 105, St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote, "Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation be there also. Just as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Why? Because the Church is the Body of which Christ is the Head. In the Martyrdom of Polycarp (c. AD 135) we read, "The church that sojourns at Smyrna to the church of God sojourning in Philomelium - and to all of the congregations of the holy and Catholic Church in every place." These and many similar texts show that the primitive church was episcopal in church government and that the term Catholic was used since the earliest times when referring to Christians "in every place." 

By the early 18th century the Church of England had become very lukewarm, and had begun to fall into decay. But God was about to bring a great Revival. In November of 1729 John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln, his brother Charles, student of Christ Church, and two others began to spend several evenings per week together reading the Greek New Testament. Soon others joined the group. One of the new members was John Clayton, the son of a Manchester bookseller. In his father's bookstore he had read many of the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, and began sharing their insights during the group's studies. Soon, the group was studying the Fathers and putting into practice what they learned, including the weekly reception of the sacrament of Holy Communion. 

This group led by the Rev. John Wesley began attracting a lot of attention, and the seriousness of their religious pursuits in such a latitudinarian era led to them acquiring some derisive nicknames, including the Holy Club and the Methodists. They were called Methodists because of their method or rule which included regular prayer and Bible reading, the centrality of the cross, the necessity of personal conversion, the importance of evangelism and activism, the frequent reception of Holy Communion, and fasting.

This evangelical revival was also a sacramental revival. Large numbers of people experiencing personal conversion crowded into their once poorly attended churches for Communion to the consternation of latitudinarian clergy who were not used to such "excesses of enthusiasm." Where the clergy became Evangelical they quickly restored frequent celebrations of the Eucharist. John and Charles Wesley and their followers renewed the classical Anglican spirituality of the evangelical experience of personal conversion,  justification by faith, and the centrality of the Holy Scriptures; and a catholic understanding of the meaning, significance and value of the Holy Eucharist, and an emphasis on the universal call to holiness.

While the Wesley's and their followers were successful in winning hundreds of thousands of people to a living faith in Christ, they failed for the most part in making the Eucharist and the Church central to their spirituality. This was primarily because the predominantly latitudinarian clergy shunned the Wesley's, discouraged the religious enthusiasm of their followers, and all but closed the churches to them. Sermons, rather than the Eucharist, became central to their spirituality. 

A century later the Oxford Movement did for the Church what the Evangelical Revival had done for the individual. This Catholic Revival was a movement aimed at re-calling the Church to a proper understanding of its position with God and the State. The Tractarians were committed to the faithful use of the Book of Common Prayer and obedience to its rubrics, to teaching the importance of the Church, the Apostolic ministry, the sacraments, and the centrality of the Eucharist. The leaders of the Oxford Movement had no interest in creating a church party. Their interest was in reviving the whole Church. They used the term Anglo-Catholic as a name for the Church of England, not as a party label. They were "Anglo" because they were part of the English Church, and they were "Catholic," because the Anglican Church was the national Catholic Church of the British Isles.

Bishop John R. H. Moorman writes, "The best of the Anglo-Catholics realized that what they were doing was the natural outcome of evangelical religion with its insistence upon people's sin, and their redemption by the cross and sacrifice of Christ... Of Arthur Stanton, Mackonochie's curate and a thoroughgoing high-churchman, it was written that 'the constant — indeed the invariable — topics of his preaching were sin and forgiveness; the love of God towards the sinner and the sinners need of the cleansed heart; the guaranteed access to the Lord through the sacrament of the altar...' Here we get the perfect combination of the two approaches to religion; and many other Anglo-Catholics preached the same Gospel. E. B. Pusey, although the leader of the high-church movement, and one of the most disliked men in the country because of what he stood for and proclaimed, has been called 'one of the greatest English Evangelicals'... The Oxford Movement had been anti-liberal and anti-Erastian, but never anti-evangelical" (The Anglican Spiritual Tradition; Templegate Publishers; c. 1983; p. 165). 

Donald Bridge and David Phypers point out, "Contrary to common opinion, however, Evangelicals were not prominent in organizing opposition to the early ritualistic changes... By the end of the nineteenth century, on practical points the Tractarians had won hands down and the Evangelicals had accepted defeat by adopting many of their reforms. Thus church buildings had been restored with chancel and altar-rail steps, interiors had been cleaned and redecorated, box-pews had been replaced by open forms, organs had become universal, choirs wore surplices, worship had become more reverent, weekly eucharists had everywhere been restored and all clergy had taken to wearing clerical collars at all times" (Communion; The Meal That Unites?; Harold Shaw Publishers, c. 1981; pp. 133-134).

It was only with the emergence of the post-Tractarians that Anglo-Catholicism became a church party, and the Evangelicals reacted by forming their own church party. This new generation, often called "Ritualists" saw the Book of Common Prayer as inadequate, replacing it with various privately published missals, and began embracing Roman rituals, doctrine and spirituality.  E. B. Pusey, who had become the leader of the Tractarians, fought hard against this emerging movement which was seen as embracing Tridentine Roman Catholicism and seeking unity with an unreformed papacy. 

Sometimes called Anglo-Papalists today, this party has caused great harm to Anglicanism. How? If the Prayer book can be discarded or "supplemented" in favor of unauthorized missals, then why cannot the liberals and others replace or "supplement" the Book of Common Prayer with liturgies of their own? If the Anglican formularies can be rejected in part or in whole, then why cannot the liberals and others do likewise? If Anglicans can embrace Roman theology, then why cannot the liberals and others adopt liberal-modernist or other teachings?

Church parties formed in the 19th century have been the bane of Anglicanism. Anglicans are Reformed Catholics, often called Evangelical Catholics. We must stop seeing ourselves as Evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics, and stop identifying ourselves by party labels. The term Anglo-Catholic is fine as long as it is used as a synonym for the Anglican Church as used by the Tractarians, but it must be discarded as a party label. And the term Evangelical is fine as long as it is used as a synonym for the Gospel as used by the Reformers of the 16th century, but it must also be discarded as a party label.  

Anglicans are Evangelical Catholics. These terms are not two nouns, but an adjective (Evangelical) and a noun (Catholic). As Evangelicals we are Biblical Christians who proclaim the centrality of the cross, emphasize the necessity of personal conversion, and are committed to evangelism and activism. As Catholics we are Churchmen, committed to the historic visible Church which is the Body of which Christ is the Head, possess the Catholic ministry of male bishops, presbyters and deacons in Apostolic Succession, emphasize the three Creeds as faithful summaries of orthodox Christian doctrine, believe in the sacraments as objective means of grace with the Holy Eucharist as the center and summit of our spirituality, and proclaim the universal call to holiness

Without the Evangelical spirit, there is no real Gospel to proclaim and no effective evangelism, and that is why Anglo-Catholic congregations tend to be greying and not reproducing. However, without the Catholic Body, Evangelical congregations tend to drift from Anglican faith and practice, and become increasingly like generic pop-evangelical congregations. Anglicanism is both thoroughly Evangelical and fully Catholic, and if we are to renew the Church we must see ourselves once again as Evangelical Catholics, committed to the classical Anglican formularies: the historic Book of Common Prayer and its Ordinal and Catechism, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, and the two Books of Homilies; and embracing the fullness of our Anglican inheritance: the Church Fathers, Doctors, Reformers, Carolines, and Tractarians. In all of Christendom, only Anglicanism is both thoroughly Evangelical and fully Catholic, and that is why only Anglicanism can serve as a bridge Church and a healing balm in a divided Christendom. 

Friday, May 4, 2012


Some Christians who visit an Anglican parish find our worship very different from the non-liturgical worship that they are accustomed to. Liturgical worship seems like a novelty to them, and they wonder where it came from. The truth is that non-liturgical worship is the novelty, not liturgical worship. In fact, non-liturgical worship has its roots in the radical Reformation of the 16th century, a movement that was rejected and opposed by Dr. Martin Luther and all of the great Reformers. 

Every Worship Service that our Lord Jesus Christ participated in, whether in a synagogue or in the Temple in Jerusalem was liturgical, and to this day every Jewish synagogue in the Land of Israel or in the diaspora is liturgical in its worship. Likewise, Christian worship — which grew out of Old Covenant synagogue and Temple worship — has been liturgical from the very beginning. In fact, more than three out of every four Christians in the world today worship liturgically.

Why liturgically? Because liturgical worship allows the congregation to pray and worship together. Without liturgical worship common prayer is impossible. Without liturgical worship the congregation is reduced to spectators, saying "Amen" at the close of someone else's prayer. Even the most non-liturgical of churches have hymns, which are written prayers and praise. Imagine what worship would be like without hymn books and people being able to sing praises to God together? 

For the newcomer, liturgical worship can be a lot like ballroom dancing. When you are just learning to dance you are self-conscious, feel like you have two left feet, and find yourself tripping over your own two feet. But once you learn how to dance and begin to find your feet, you feel free to soar across the dance floor, and dancing becomes a joy. It is the same with liturgical worship. It does take a few Sundays to learn the liturgy, but once you learn it you are free to really participate in worship, to exercise your part in the priesthood of the faithful, and to soar to the throne of grace. Through the liturgy you get into the rhythm of prayer: adoration, confession and the assurance of forgiveness, thanksgiving, supplication and intercession, alternating between God speaking through His Word and the congregation responding through prayer and praise. 

"Sounds good," someone may say, "but that is the wisdom of the world. I don't find the word liturgy in the Bible." If you don't find liturgy in the Bible, then either you are not reading, or more likely not understanding, the Holy Scriptures. In the Bible we have descriptions of liturgical prayer in the Old Covenant Temple, and in heaven. Yes, there is liturgical worship in heaven! In fact much of the Book of Revelation describes a heavenly Worship Service that the Apostle John witnessed, complete with presbyters (the elders) in white robes, an altar, candle sticks, incense, heavenly manna, liturgical chant and prayer, and much more.

Some may still protest that they do not find the word liturgy in the New Testament, but they would be wrong. The word liturgy is often used in the New Testament. However, many people do not realize that it is there because it comes from the Greek and is commonly translated rather than transliterated into English. Jesus said, "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matt. 18:16). With that in mind, lets look at three texts of Scripture. 

In Luke 1:23 we read, "And it came to pass that as soon as the days of his [Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist] ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house." The Greek word translated ministration is leitourgia, and means liturgy or liturgical ministry. This text refers of course to Old Covenant worship, but we will now see that New Covenant worship is also liturgical. 

"As they [the church in Antioch] ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'" (Acts 13:2). The Greek word translated ministered is leitourgeo, and means that they conducted a liturgical Service. Not only did this liturgical ministry not "quench" the Spirit, but during the liturgy "the Holy Ghost said, 'Set apart for  Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'" 

Writing to the Philippians from Rome, the Apostle Paul says, "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am joyful and rejoice with you all" (Phil. 2:17). In this verse the Greek word translated service is leitourgia,  the same Greek word translated as ministration  in Luke 1:23. The Eastern Christians generally call the Services of the Church the Liturgy, transliterating the Greek into English, while Anglicans tend to use the word Service, translating rather than transliterating the Greek into English.

In addition to liturgical worship, the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Christians have an earthly altar. That may sound strange to Christians who's churches are pulpit focused and have "altar calls" to an altar-less platform, but it is true nonetheless. "We have an altar from which they have no right to eat, who serve the tabernacle" (Heb. 13:10). What the writer of this epistle is saying is that we Christians have an altar which the unbelieving Jews who still worship in the Old Covenant Temple have no right to eat. Would you like to partake of the New Covenant altar spoken of in the Epistle to the Hebrews?

The Gospel came to Britain from Jerusalem in AD 37, just a few years after the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The Anglican (Latin for "English") Church has an unbroken history from that time. We still worship liturgically; we still celebrate the Lord's Supper, the Holy Communion every Lord's Day; partake of Communion at an altar; and we still "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). You may have tried trendy churches and "praise bands," but after a while found that they generate more heat than light. Christianity isn't "hip," it is serious. It is a way of life. Isn't it time to try the original? We are an ancient Church, and we will be here until Christ returns for His Bride. At Holy Cross Anglican Church, we celebrate the Holy Communion every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM, and we enjoy fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall after Services. We are a faithful and friendly Church, and we have a place for you. Come and experience Biblical Christianity firsthand. I hope to see you on Sunday!