Monday, September 21, 2020

Interesting. . .

You know how it goes.  You have some free time and you go online and a click here and a click there and pretty soon you are somewhere where you never thought you would be.  Well, that happened to me and I encountered an Episcopal congregation with a praise band and, well, suddenly I was rather frustrated.  I am accustomed to praise bands and contemporary Christian music in Lutheran circles but I guess I had hoped that the folks who gave us Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer were somehow insulated from the rather mundane stuff of church growth, CCM, and conforming to an evangelical model to pack them in.  You can just for yourself.


It is an Episcopal congregation and the building looks impressive enough (though plain) and the priest had a half-way decent sermon (well, perhaps better than halfway).  But. . . there was that praise band and the terrible sound of it all (makes you hope that it was better in person).  And, well, it was so. . . mundane.  I have heard decent praise bands but still would not recommend them on the basis of the ability of a praise band to lead congregational song -- which is the most essential duty of parish musicians -- much less the theology and quality of the music and the musicians.  But it does go to show up that Episcopalians, usually thought to be higher up the food chain of culture and erudition, may not be all that much different than the rest of us.  I still recall the apt title of that devotional classic -- My Utmost for His Highest -- and wonder whether we are still seeking the best or settling for what comes easy or what is popular.


Chris Jones said...

A quibble, perhaps, and then hopefully a more substantive comment:

The quibble is that this congregation (Christ - St Paul's, Yonges Island SC) is not an Episcopal congregation. It is affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) which split from the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) a little over a decade ago over issues of human sexuality (mainly).

The more substantive comment is that the Anglican Church is notorious for accommodating a wide variety of theological and liturgical views. William F. Buckley famously commented that "The Anglican Church is so eclectic that no one, from the Pope to Mao Tse Tung can assert with any degree of certitude that he is NOT an Anglican." There are Anglo-Catholics who emphasize the Real Presence and Apostolic succession, whose theology is all but indistinguishable from Roman Catholicism. There are Calvinist Anglicans who would fit right in in the PCA or OPC. There are evangelical Anglicans, charismatic Anglicans, and social-Gospel Anglicans. Given this riot of inconsistency and contradiction, one can hardly be surprised that having a praise band is something some Anglicans, somewhere, might do.

This "comprehensiveness" (as Anglicans like to call it) has definitely survived the split of more conservative Anglicans into a separate denomination. ACNA includes evangelicals, charismatics, Anglo-Catholics, and a lot of folks who, in a genuinely conservative denomination in any other tradition, would be considered liberals. One might think that the splitting off into a "conservative" denomination would be taken as an opportunity to remove some of that ambiguity and "comprehensiveness" and create a Church body that is more theologically coherent. But that is not the case with ACNA. There are almost as many "flavors" of Anglicanism in ACNA as there ever were in ECUSA.

And that emphatically includes folks for whom a praise band is the cat's pajamas.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters speaks of "the folks who gave us Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer," but he is mistaken if he thinks that these people have any connection at all to that. They have abandoned traditional Anglicanism and become a part of the popular false "feel good" movement. But weren't they cute when the Baptismal party all appeared in their masks? What vast foolishness! This is truly the face of the thoroughly modern (and irrelevant) Episcopal Church USA.

Continuing Anglican Priest