March 15, 2009

Eulogy For My Father

Filed under: Sermons — William Witt @ 3:58 am

I was privileged to preach the eulogy at my father’s funeral on January 29, 2007. I needed to take some time before I could share this.

What can I say about my father, Leon Witt?

First, my father was a fighter.

They say that into every life a little rain must fall, and Dad certainly had his share of hard times. He was born in 1930, one year after the stock market crashed. His mother, his father, and his three brothers lived as migrant farmers in the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. I have heard him describe being in a tent with the wind blowing, and the dust so thick that during the middle of the day you needed a Coleman lantern to see to the other side of the tent. His father died of a heart attack by the side of the road next to the family Model A when my father was only ten. From then on, Dad’s mother raised four boys by herself in New Mexico, and Dad became the family cook at ten years old. (more…)

March 12, 2009

Is God Our Judge? A Sermon

Filed under: Sermons — William Witt @ 8:09 am

With Holy Week soon upon us, I thought this an appropriate sermon to repost.

The Judge JudgedIn the epistle which we read this morning, St. Paul introduces the metaphor or image of “justification” to describe what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. “Since we are justified by faith,” he says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1). The doctrine of “justification by faith” utilizes legal language and draws upon the metaphor of God as our “Judge.” This language appears throughout Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, which is in many respects one long meditation on the meaning of the justice of God and of God’s role as Judge of sinful humanity.

This metaphor of God as Judge is perhaps one that has left an unfortunate legacy to the Western church. (The Eastern churches have largely focused on other metaphors, like that of re-creation.) This juridical language, combined with the Western heritage of Roman law, has left us with an overly legal understanding of what it means to say that God has saved us in Jesus Christ. We Western Christians have too often interpreted God’s work in Jesus Christ as a juridical process in which we sinners deserved the punishment of eternal damnation, but God let us off by punishing his innocent Son Jesus instead. I remember that as a child I liked Jesus very much, but I wasn’t too sure about God the Father. He was a bit too rigid, I thought.


March 7, 2009

Should We Blame The Seminaries?

Filed under: The Episcopal Church — William Witt @ 6:58 am

From a comment I put on StandFirm, which was later picked up by Anglican Mainstream:

In the late 1960’s the focus of Anglican theology  shifted dramatically — and so did the seminaries:

Liberal Protestantism (in the sense represented by Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, Bishop Michael Ingham) did not exist at all until Friedrich Schleiermacher, and did not exist in Anglicanism until the late nineteenth/early twentieth century.

Historic Broad Church Anglicanism was not Liberal Protestantism. (F.D. Maurice and William Temple, for example, believed every article of the creed.) Additionally, until the last twenty years or so, liberalism was never considered at the center of Anglican identity, but was tolerated as a kind of protest movement in the church with the understanding that Reformed catholic orthodoxy was the heart of Anglican identity. Anglican authority was defined by the sufficiency of Scripture, the creeds and the theological content of the (1662) BCP , as well as the 39 Articles, all understood fairly literally.

I have seen little evidence that “historic Broad Church Anglicanism” still exists. What used to be called “Broad Church” seems to have morphed into Liberal Protestantism. Perhaps it still exists in the C of E some place.

Wherever I have found acceptance of same sex-unions, I have also found theological compromise on other issues as well. In TEC these days, the dominant theology seems to be either blatant Liberal Protestantism or an “Affirming Catholicism” that is really “Unitarian Dress-up,” a love of “smells and bells” with minimal commitment to Catholic Theology.

Certainly the seminaries are largely responsible. (more…)

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