How I Say the Pledge of Allegiance

As a Christian living in the United States, I love my country and seek the best for it. I gladly join my fellow citizens in expressing my commitment to its well-being.  Because of my Christian commitments and beliefs, however, I mentally emend the text of the Pledge of Allegiance as I recite it. I cannot offer any nation or other human entity my unqualified allegiance.

* * *

I pledge a qualified, subordinate and temporal allegiance
to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands;
one nation among the family of nations;
under God, not divine, less than God;
indivisible, but not eternal;
fallible, and subject to God’s final judgment,
with aspirations of liberty and justice for all,

An Old Eucharistic Prayer in Contemporary Language

The prayer of consecration in the United Methodist Church’s Service of Word and Table IV (and in the 1964 Methodist Book of Worship which it copies) closely follows the old Book of Common Prayer pattern and retains the archaic language of its predecessors. For those who would like to use the prayer but prefer contemporary language, the following adaptation approximates the original.

I have tried to retain not only the flavor of the original, but its theological themes and points of emphasis as well. Where possible, I have used the original wording. Sentences are shorter, and the resulting grammatical structure required some slight rearrangements for the sake of clarity. I have also slightly altered the order of the petitions in order to better group like-with-like.

This adaptation lacks the classic beauty of the original, but take a look, and see how it otherwise compares.

Continue reading An Old Eucharistic Prayer in Contemporary Language

More on Catholicity and Multiculturalism

Lewis the Younger continues with his discussion of catholicity and multicultarlism. Part I is here.

In Part II, he describes how attempts to be more inclusive may be actually less so.

Catholic worship does certain things. In the Creed, we confess a common and shared faith. In the so-called “Hispanic” creed, we confess what a handful of authors believed and forced on us without warning. There is no time to reflect on what we are being asked to affirm, and we are being asked to confess something which is not held in common with the entire catholic Church. If we were to confess the Apostles’ Creed in Spanish, we would be affirming the Christian faith as handed down from the earliest Church. Instead, we are confessing an incomplete (though, thankfully not heretical) quasi-faith.

Likewise, when we replace the Sanctus with something else, we are no longer joining in the hymn of the entire Church and the hosts of heaven. The Sanctus, as it has been received, echoes the cries of the angels Isaiah saw around the heavenly throne and the shouts of those who greeted Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem. Even when we make small changes (such as “blessed is the one who comes in your name,”) we are steering away from that which the Church holds in common and, despite our best intentions, actually becoming less inclusive.

The hymn becomes less inclusive because it cease to be what it is: the hymn sung by Christians across the generations. The hymn shared between the Church and the celestial choirs. The cries of the angelic hosts ministering to God in Heaven. The shouts of Judaeans greeting the triumphal Davidic King and Messiah. The hymn which has been utilized by the Church for this purpose since the fifth century. The hymn which unites us all.

Read the whole thing at the links above.

Catholic Worship is Multicultural

Lewis the Younger comments on the awkward attempts at multiculturalism at his ecclesiastical assembly and offers an alternative: catholicity.

In an attempt to be multicultural — which I firmly believe the Church should be — we have done violence to the cultures we are trying to embrace. We have become cultural  raiders, burning down that which we don’t understand and plundering anything with a catchy melody.

The irony here is that we do this to replace a liturgy which translates into any language. The Church’s historic liturgy transcends time, space, culture, ethnicity, and language. That is, catholic worship is by its very nature multicultural.

I should probably also note that one target of his nuevo Lutheran ire is a creed first written and published by United Methodists.

Read the whole thing at the link above.

UPDATE: Also see part II.

The Hermeneutics of “What Hath God Wrought?”

What hath God wrought? On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse opened the Baltimore to Washington telegraph line by transmitting these words from the King James Version of Numbers 22:23. Modern translations render it something more like this:

now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
    ‘See what God has done!’

What hath God wrought? What has God done, or what has he promised to do, in the story of Jacob and Israel that culminates in Jesus the Messiah? This is the key hermeneutical question I ask every text of the Holy Bible, from the stories of the patriarchs to the giving of the law to the occupation of the land to the time of exile and restoration. What does this text tell me about what God did, is doing or will do? How is this a part of the great story of God’s saving work in and through the Lord Jesus? This is the key question in biblical interpretation, and it should be the foundational theme of every sermon on that text.

What has God done? Only this is is good news. All the rest is good advice.

A Christian pastor in Caesar's army