Friday, September 25, 2009

Sometimes Them Lections Makes Ya Think!

I've been thinking about the readings from the Hebrew scriptures and the Gospel for this coming Sunday (I'm still using the BCP lectionary; too cheap to purchase an entire set of the RCL and we don't have to use it here in Panama), and the message I get is "no one gets to decide through whom the Holy Spirit will do Her work." So, I'm thinking, "how does Apostolic Succession fit in with this?" Besides the fact that AS doesn't hold up historically, I see it as an attempt to control the Holy Spirit. We invoke the Holy Spirit at ordinations, and, I will admit, that in my case I felt it was a very sacred and holy moment, but the only way we really know that the Holy Spirit descended, IMHO, is by the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the person's ministry.

When I was in seminary I took a class on "Anglican Holy Orders" with the Great Louis Weil. One of my annoying classmates was going on and on about Apostolic Succession, and I said, "Are you saying that my grandfather, who was a pastor in the Assemblies of God and served as a missionary in China and the Philippine Islands, starting churches and training local clergy in the 1930's when all the Western Churches were only using Europeans and North Americans, wasn't doing God's work because some guy with a pointy hat didn't put his hands on his head?" Said classmate had no response, but the Great Louis Weil said, "Michael, Apostolic Succession has more to do with butts in seats than hands on heads."

So, wadda YOU think? Apostolic Succession: Holy Spirit pipeline or buncha hooey? Or merely butts on seats?

Also, no Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging 'cuz I'm just not into it right now.


PseudoPiskie said...

I've always thought AS a bunch of hooey. Even my RC friend agrees to some extent - at least historically. It is used to separate us from them. Lots of stuff in religion is used to separate us into sheep and goats. (Having been around both sheep and goats, I think I'd prefer to be a goat.) I'm kinda glad I didn't know what our bish did at GC or I might have not felt the Holy Spirit at all when I was received in March.

Hee. Word is mythecal

Mary Clara said...

PseudoPiskie nailed it: the apostolic succession is mythic. In the proper, serious sense. It is symbolic of our link to all those followers of Jesus who came before us.

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all who were there to receive it. It wasn't just dispensed to an elite. It is part of our myth (in our incarnational religion) that we have this direct, physical link with the original Christians (and Jesus himself) via the ritual laying-on of hands. If we understand it as symbolic, we can see that it should not be made into a mechanism of exclusion or power over others.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Besides the fact that AS doesn't hold up historically

OK, spill it. What is your take on the historical failings on AS?

Inquiring minds wish to know.

Fred Schwartz said...

Who gets to decide what fruit has been borne? Isn't that like controlling the Hollly spirit? See Jimmie Stewartlife in Its A Wonderful Life.

Paul said...

Since there are no truly reliable records for succession in the earliest days (note, I wrote "reliable"), we cannot really assert the historicity of AS. Nice legend but not empirically verifiable.

Mary Clara put it well. If we see it as symbolic, it can be quite meaningful for us.

motheramelia said...

There's something to be said about AS that is positive in that it helps pass down tradition, but that it can be verified is hooey. The Holy Spirit moves where she wills and your missionary grandfather was certainly moved. Great Louis Weil quote.

susan s. said...

About AS, I can say nothing. Can I just say that I love Louis Weil? Thank you.

Kirstin said...

I'm votin' with Louis. :-)

it's margaret said...

Butts in seats.... if GLW said it, it must be true!

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