‘Realism’ is based on the grandest foundation a philosophy can have, namely human stupidity

—R. G. Collingwood, An Essay on Metaphysics (Oxford 1998) p 34.

A quote to keep handy when people tell you it’s not realistic to ask people to wait till they’re committed for life till they have sex, to have sex only with someone of the other sex, to stay with the person you have sex with your whole life long no matter how difficult they turn out to be, etc etc

On gay marriage, traditional evangelicals have lost an important battle—but the larger war is still going on.  And traditionalists and progressives alike must now get over ourselves and focus on other issues coming at us on which we can and must agree if we are to be a living, vibrant expression of the gospel in the contemporary world.  This is an opportunity.

These are actually the words of an Evangelical staying in the Presbyterian Church rather than the Episcopal Church, but all he says applies to us too. Read it all here. Thanks to Bruce Robison for the tip.

The closer the better

The closer the better

In the past I’ve recommended Simeon Trust conferences as a way to attend a Proclamation Trust-style preaching workshop now that EFAC-USA is no longer organising them, but I need to add a word of caution. Last Sunday while travelling I attended a church where one of the Simeon Trust workshop leaders was preaching, and was very disappointed. He preached on one clause in a verse, and in doing so appeared to contradict the rest of the verse. It was the classic mistake of making a good biblical point but not making it by expounding the passage in the Bible that makes the point, which comes down to making the point on your own authority rather than the authority of the word of God.

If you’re thinking of going to a St Simeon’s Trust preaching conference, let me know which one and I’ll tell you if you might be wasting your registration fee.

It's all here and nowhere elseAn early description of English Evangelicals, the forebears of Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church, from a Jesuit priest:

Each of them had his own Bible, and sedulously turned the pages and looked up the texts cited by the preachers, discussing the passages among themselves to see whether they had quoted them to the point, and accurately, and in harmony with their tenets. Also they would start arguing among themselves about the meaning of passages from the Scriptures – men, women, boys, girls, rustics, labourers and idiots

A 21st century observer of Evangelicals in the same tradition would perhaps notice fewer rustics and laborers, but I think would still see the rest, and most still with his or her own Bible, checking the text to see if the preacher, or leader of a Bible Study, has it right, and the wise leader will be grateful when corrected. Two heads are better than one when reading the Bible as in other cases, and many heads better still.

What would be good reading for Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church at this stage in our history?

Thanks to Andrew Cambers for the quote; see his Godly Reading: Print, Manuscript and Puritanism in England, 1580–1720  (Cambridge University Press 2011)

Bishop McIlvaineAn evangelical layman, Tom Isham of Trinity Episcopal Church in Marshall, Michigan, is working with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to add the 19th century evangelical bishop, Charles Pettit McIlvaine, to the calendar of the Episcopal Church. The Commission is more likely to do this if there are already commemorations of McIlvaine taking place in some Episcopal Churches, and clerical readers of this blog are asked to consider using the propers below, and the brief biography, on or near March 12, the anniversary of his death.


Proverbs 4: 20-27
Psalm 119: 121-136
Romans 8: 31-39
Mark 8: 31-38


O gracious God, you kindled in your servant Charles Pettit McIlvaine a burning zeal for the salvation and sanctification of souls, and equipped him to those ends with great gifts of leadership, preaching and writing. Grant us to heed the example and teaching of this your servant Charles, that we too may have a hand in bringing to faith those whom you have called; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Biographical note:

As a man of great and varied gifts, Charles Pettit McIlvaine did many things and he did them well. Combining evangelical fervor and liturgical dignity in equal measure, he distinguished himself as a leader, author, scholar, educator, preacher, revivalist, reformer, ecumenist, and Sunday school pioneer. His literary and scholarly gifts advanced the evangelical cause in the Episcopal Church, defended Christian doctrine, and addressed social issues. He was an active delegate at the first Lambeth Conference.

Throughout his career, Bishop McIlvaine emphasized spiritual rebirth. Hence he preached at numerous revivals, conducting them in good Episcopal fashion, ‘decently and in order.’ His awakening at age seventeen matched the experience he recommended. ‘It was in the college of which I was a student,’ he recalled. ‘It was powerful and prevailing, and fruitful in the conversion of young men to God; and it was quiet, unexcited, and entirely free from all devices or means, beyond the few and simple which God has appointed… In that precious season of the power of God, my religious life began. I had heard before; I began then to know.’

Though raised in the East, McIlvaine served as Ohio’s second bishop for forty-one years. Earlier, he served churches in Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn, N.Y.; twice served as U.S. Senate chaplain; lectured on Christian evidences at the University of the City of New York, and served as chaplain and professor at the U.S. Military Academy, where he transformed the reigning secular ethos into one of Christian awareness, setting a new tone for the nation s officer corps.

During the first dozen years of his episcopate, he also served as president of Kenyon College and Seminary. He stabilized the college’s finances, built academic structures and faculty housing, and set the standard for racial harmony.

Early in the American Civil War, he served President Lincoln as envoy to Britain, where his wise counsel and diplomatic bearing assured the British would not ally themselves with the Confederacy. Later, he brought the Gospel to soldiers in the field, tended the wounded, and sought reconciliation between victors and vanquished.

It will be important to report any commemorations held to the SCLM; any reports added to this post as a comment will be forwarded to them, or you can e-mail Tom directly at ishamthomas [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.

St John's New HavenGeorge Kovoor, General Secretary of EFAC and rector of St John’s Episcopal Church, New Haven, has invited evangelical clergy in the Episcopal Church to meet in New Haven on Thursday May 1st. The purpose of the gathering will be to affirm our common roots in the Judeo Christian heritage, the historic Anglican evangelical instincts for Biblical truth, discipleship, evangelism, church planting and mission, and to strategise for the future.

The meeting will begin at 9.30 am and end at 5.30 pm, and suggested business includes:

  1. Worship, using proposed propers for the commemoration of the 19th century evangelical bishop of Ohio, Charles Pettit McIlvaine
  2. Bible Study
  3. Sharing our stories
  4. Brain storming and dreaming
  5. Appointing a steering group

Interested clergy are asked to register by comment on this post, or by e-mail to pw35 [at] kentforlife [dot] net. All readers are urged to pass the information on to any clergy who may be interested, and ask them to register in the same way. More details will be sent out by e-mail or snail mail within the next couple of weeks.


Living Out logoHere’s a link to the best resource I’ve yet found  both for understanding homosexuality and for showing the most effective Christian response. It can be easily recommended to someone experiencing same-sex attraction, and to people who believe that the Church’s response to it should be to ignore the Bible’s teaching on the subject, but its biggest benefit to me has been showing me a better way to respond personally to people in either of those categories. It’s run by Christians living with same-sex attraction but who don’t reject the Bible’s teaching. In current circumstances, it’s a resource for all Christians.


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