Here is what we believe:

We are both Protestant and Catholic*

The Episcopal Church stands squarely in the Reformed, or Protestant, tradition and we consider ourselves to be as equally descended from early Christianity as the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.

While we worship in ways similar to the Roman Catholic tradition, we do not recognize a single authority, such as the Pope. The Episcopal Church is often referred to as the “middle way, since it contains elements of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.

*The word catholic (with a small "c") comes from the Greek kata meaning “throughout”, and holos, meaning “whole”. It was originally used by Ignatius of Antioch as early as the year 100 to precisely include all followers of Jesus and can be defined as "all-embracing, inclusive".


The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions.
— Czeslaw Milosz - poet

We follow The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer, is the collection of prayers, services, and liturgies that all Anglican worshipers follow. It is called “common prayer” because we all pray it together, around the world.

The Prayer Book of today's Episcopal Church was published in 1979. There are many resources and prayers to enrich our worship, but the Book of Common Prayer is the authority that preserves our tradition.


We rely on a balance of Scripture, Tradition and Reason to explain life's mysteries

Episcopalians value Scripture, Tradition and Reason equally. We often use the metaphor of a three-legged stool, with each leg of the stool contributing equally to our balanced approach.

The Anglican approach to reading and interpreting the Bible is unique compared to many other denominations. While we, like all Christians, acknowledge the Bible (or the Holy Scripture) as the Word of God and completely sufficient to our reconciliation to God, we strongly believe that the Bible should be considered in the context of our own time and place.

Christianity has amassed two thousand years of experiencing God, of reading scripture, and of following Jesus. What these wise and loving people have said to us through the centuries is critical to our understanding and our behavior. The traditions of the Church connect all generations and give us guidance to continue the dialogue. We believe that a doctrine of biblical inerrancy can be a hindrance to spritual growth, and rarely a help.

Episcopalians believe that every Christian must build an understanding and relationship with God, and to do that, God has given us intelligence and our own experience, which we refer to as “Reason.” Based on the text of the Bible itself, and what Christians have taught us about it through the ages, we then must sort out our own understanding of it as it relates to our own lives.


I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
— Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

We are not afraid of a challenge. 

Episcopalians have always valued the life of the mind and we maintain a frank dialogue with fields of secular study. Isaac Newton was an Anglican clergyman and theologian, as were several of the founders of the Royal Society, which was the earliest institution organized for the promotion of science. Charles Darwin studied at the University of Cambridge to become an Anglican clergyman and agonized over the effects his theory would have on traditional church teachings.

The Episcopal Church maintains this tension. We seek the truth as it is, not as we would like it to be. We routinely require our clergy to hold university, as well as seminary, degrees, and we support many university groups, editorial discussions, and encourage a lively debate.


We recite The Nicene Creed every Sunday:

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
    he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
    and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
     he suffered death and was buried.
     On the third day he rose again
     in accordance with the Scriptures;
     he ascended into heaven
     and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
     and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, 
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
    and the life of the world to come.

Amen.


Who is in charge of the EPISCOPAL Church?

Bishop Michael Curry - Presiding Bishop of the (National) Episcopal Church 2015 - 

Bishop Michael Curry - Presiding Bishop of the (National) Episcopal Church 2015 - 

"Episcopal" , which is a Greek word, simply means "to have bishops", so it's an adjective, not a noun. Bishops in the American Episcopal Church are elected by individual dioceses and are consecrated into the "Apostolic Succession".

We feel that  these are two very important concepts, and are somewhat rare in the traditional concept of a  church:

(1) the highest church leadership is elected  by us, the members,

(2) our clergy form an unbroken line of tradition, love, charity, and  leadership that we can trace back to the original Apostles of Christ Jesus. So, when a Bishop blesses and lays hands on a new priest, the line extends all the way back to Jesus. (That is not a typo. This is very important to us.) 

And, by the way, for more than four decades, (since 1974) the American Episcopal Church has ordained women to the priesthood with full authority and to the highest levels of leadership. We understand that the feminine side of creation adds wisdom, richness, and depth that there is no other way to experience.

Katherine Jefferts-Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church 2006-2015

Katherine Jefferts-Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church 2006-2015

Both lay (non-ordained) and clergy share leadership in the Episcopal Church.  The Vestry is the governing body of our church and oversees the property and assets, approves all major initiatives and expenditures, and can actually remove a rector with the approval of the Bishop.  The Rector is a priest, who usually has education outside of theology, and who is charged with the day to day administration of the worship, structure, and music of the church. The rector, hires, fires, and  manages the entire staff. 

Every parish is connected to an even larger structure, but is autonomous in many respects. The basic unit of ministry in the Episcopal Church is the "diocese," which is simply a region of a reasonable number of Episcopalians that can be managed by one experienced, God-fearing,  human being. So each diocese is presided over by a "diocesan Bishop" who may have help from a variety of other kinds of bishops, depending on the circumstances.

Bishop Greg Rickel - Presiding Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia

Bishop Greg Rickel - Presiding Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia

The Diocesan Bishop chooses and ordains priests and deacons to serve the "parishes," or congregations, of the diocese, which carryout the ministry of the diocese in their local communities. The priests lead the parish in worship, make decisions related to the sacramental life of the parish, and in general, supports the ministry of the worshiping Christians there.

The Episcopal Church is governed by a Constitution and a set of laws (known as "canons") which it establishes for itself by Convention, but the diocesan bishop is the ecclesiastical (or "church") authority in his or her particular diocese. The bishops of the Episcopal Church have no jurisdiction outside of their dioceses, so they meet together twice per year to pray and make decisions about the life of the Church. Every nine years, the Church elects a "Presiding Bishop" who represents the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion and "presides" over meetings of the bishops, known as the "House of Bishops."

Bishop Curry

Bishop Curry

Every three years, delegations (or "deputations") from all the dioceses, along with the House of Bishops, gather to worship and pass legislation for the Church. This General Convention is where broad decisions are made about policy and worship, as well as revitalizing the Christian community for ministry "back home."


Statements Regarding Common Questions:

  • We are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.
  • The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.
  • Our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions and is celebrated in many languages.
  • Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops, and all are encouraged to marry and have families.
  • We believe in amendment of life, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting.
  • We believe that lay people exercise the vital role in the governance and ministry of our church. We elect our leaders and follow canons and rules which are voted on by us.
  • Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians, not only members of the Episcopal Church.
  • We uphold the Bible and we worship using the Book of Common Prayer.
  • We affirm that committed relationships are lifelong and monogamous.
  • We allow divorce and re-marriage under consent and guidance of clergy. We recognize that there is grace after divorce and do not deny the sacraments to those who have been divorced.
  • We affirm that issues such as birth control are matters of personal informed conscience. We do not discourage family planning including the use of contraceptives.
  • We celebrate our unity in Christ while honoring our political, philosophical, and lifestyle differences. We strive to always put the work of love before uniformity of opinion.
  • All are welcome to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church.
  • We welcome those of all sexual orientations to share their sacred worship and to marvel with us at the glory of God's creation and the love of Christ Jesus.

Some well-known Episcopalians include:

Robin Williams, Judy Garland, Sam Waterston, Cecil B. DeMille, Charlton Heston, Raymond Massey, Courtney Cox Arquette, Bono, Fred Astaire, Roseanne Cash, Judy Collins, David Hyde Pierce, Thurgood Marshall, David Souter, Sandra Day O'Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, James Baker, John Steinbeck, Madeleine L'Engle, William Faulkner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Tennessee Williams, Margaret Meade, Buzz Aldrin, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Nat "King" Cole, Reese Witherspoon,

Along with 31 signers of the Declaration of Independence, over 1/4 of US Presidents, including, George Washington, Franklin (and Eleanor) Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush. Also James Madison, William Henry Harrison, James Monroe, Zachary Taylor, and Henry Ford.


The Lord bless him and keep him. The Lord make His face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him. The Lord lift up his countenance upon him, and give him peace. Amen.

The Lord bless him and keep him. The Lord make His face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him. The Lord lift up his countenance upon him, and give him peace. Amen.

Robin Williams Ten Best things about being Episcopalian:

10. No snake handling.

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7. You don't have to check your brains at the door.

6. Pew aerobics.

5. Church year is color-coded.

4. Free wine on Sunday.

3. All of the pageantry - none of the guilt.

2. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:

1. No matter what you believe, there's bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

Copyright © 2002 St. Augustine by-the-Sea


I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church.

I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on the town garbage heap, on a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his “title” in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek; at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers lie and gamble.

Because that is where he died. And that is what he died about. And that is where church folks should be and what church folks should be about.
— George MacLeod - The Anglican Digest

The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
— Carl Sagan
Theology, philosophy, metaphysics, quantum physics...
these are merely ways for God to also have his smartest people believe in him.
— Jeremy Aldana

...some thoughts on what we mean when we talk about the church having an outreach

by The Rev. Jonathan Weldon

The primary outreach of St. Paul’s Church occurs at the dismissal from the Eucharist when we are sent forth to love and serve the Lord. This is a theological point that must never be lost, because without this understanding, we’ve ceased to understand what is basic to Christianity.
I’ve heard our bishop say this again and again, and he’s merely echoing the church’s understanding for these two thousand years of our history.

That outreach through the members sent from the Eucharist occurs in manifold ways through the personal commitments of every member in every aspect of their lives.

  • It occurs when they have the courage and love to be able to say in an AA meeting: Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I am an alcoholic, and when they reply “Hi so-and-so” and when they tell their story and when they sponsor someone else and take those emergency phone calls from someone who is sorely tempted to drink or use and when they say at the end of the meeting: “Keep coming back.”
     
  • It happens through their relationships with neighbors and co-workers,
     
  • and with the attention they pay to their children and to their parent-teacher meetings and their volunteering in schools.
     
  • It occurs in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities and retirement homes where our members are involved in caring for the other residents.
     
  • It occurs through their public service as teachers in our classrooms.
     
  • It occurs when they do the often thankless job of law enforcement with professionalism, keeping us all safe, and when they fight fires and ride ambulances to emergencies and work in our hospitals and emergency rooms or transport us safely from one place to another.
     
  • It occurs when they run their businesses with integrity and make good places for their employees to work and produce a product or service that is useful and serviceable or even beautiful.
     
  • It occurs in their commitments to service they make on boards and committees in government and in various organizations for the common good, in neighborhood associations, in Hospice volunteering and and hospital volunteering, in charitable organizations and in service organizations and fraternal organizations and organizations that service justice and peace.
     
  • It occurs in the work done specifically in the name of St. Paul’s through Alms Ministry and in Maple Alley Café. It occurs in our volunteers working in Hope House.


I could go on and on.

Do you have something you'd like to add to this list of ways
in which the Body of Christ reaches out?

How Do You Become A Member of St. Paul's? Q&A

How Do I Become a Member of St. Paul’s?
 

Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you have a place at St. Paul’s. You may not even know why you decided to come. You might want to just sit and watch. Or perhaps you were baptized here as a baby and have never left the Church. You’re welcome to be a part of our community just as you are, whether you eventually become an official member or not.

The primary tool for becoming a member is the Parish Information Form. You can find this form HERE as well as from an usher in the Nave. This form is a way for you to provide us with your name, contact information, and the date that you were baptized (in any Christian denomination). Once you return that form to the church office and we have the date of your baptism on file, you can become a formal member of our church. But the real membership happens over time, as you participate in worship, special services, social activities, and service to our community and the world. Watch the Sunday service leaflet for endless opportunities to build community through participation in prayer, service, learning, and fellowship.

If you are an Episcopalian from another congregation, you will also have to contact your previous congregation and request a letter of transfer to St. Paul’s. The office can you help you with this.

If you were confirmed in another denomination or have made a mature proclamation of your faith, let us know that, too, with a date and location, if possible, and we’ll follow up with you.

If you have never been baptized but want to be, tell a member of the clergy. From January through May, we offer Journey which is our “catechumenal” process - the ancient path to baptism that dates back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. Journey is open to anyone who wants to participate and can prepare you for baptism or making a renewed proclamation of faith in the presence of our bishop.

We encourage our members to make a planned financial pledge to St. Paul’s. It’s not about paying for the show, and it’s not about paying dues to a club. Financial giving is a spiritual practice that helps us assess what we truly need and reminds us Who gave us what we have. If you’re not up for giving 10%, start by giving anything at all; just make a practice of giving something. You can place the enclosed pledge card in the offering plate or mail it to the church office.

We look forward to getting to know you and helping you live out your spiritual journey among us at St. Paul’s. We expect that we will all change and grow because of your presence among us.

A Brief History of the Episcopal Protestant Church of America

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH is the American branch of the Anglican Communion (The church of England).

After the American revolution, Anglicans living in the United States quickly changed their name to "Episcopalians" in order to avoid persecution and also to sever ties with England who was seen as the enemy. We are, however, still part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Communion is an inheritor of 2,000 years of catholic and apostolic tradition dating from Christ himself. It is rooted in the Church of England. (Note that "catholic" is spelled here with a small "C", meaning "universal and including a wide variety". Episcopalians are not associated with Roman Catholicism or the Church of Rome except as common followers of Jesus' teachings)

The Episcopal Church came into existence as an independent denomination after the American Revolution. Many of the founders of the United States of America were active Episcopalians. The National Cathedral in Washington DC is an Episcopal church. Today we have between two and three million members in the United States, Mexico, and Central America, all under the jurisdiction of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry.

We have many "firsts" for a protestant faith tradition:

In 1988 the Diocese of Massachusetts elected the first Anglican woman bishop, Barbara Harris.

In 2003, at St. Paul's Church in Concord, the Episcopal Church elected the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson.

When the Church of England spread throughout the British Empire, sister churches sprang up. These churches, while autonomous in their governance, are bound together by tradition, Scripture, and the inheritance they have received from the Church of England.

Together they make up the Anglican Communion, a body headed spiritually by the Archbishop of Canterbury and having some 80 million members, making it the second largest Christian body in the Western world.

The Healing Ministry at St. Paul's

A Ministry of Healing and Wholeness

by Pastor Lee Cunningham, Order of Saint Luke

Have you ever heard this one?

“The doctors have done everything they can. All we can do now is pray.”

This statement reflects an unfortunate attitude (shared by more Christians than we’d probably want to admit) that prayer is a last resort rather than a primary resource in dealing with disorders of the body, mind, spirit, or relationships.

We of St. Paul’s Healing Ministry see things differently: prayer for healing is an important component of wellness.

In a society that often defines health only by the state of one's physical condition, the noted Christian author, Albert E. Day, reminds us that health is "the combination of harmonious relationships, spiritual vitality, psychological maturity, and physical wellness."

We are well aware that "poor health" can be experienced not only physically, but also in our emotional state, in our relationships with others and our relationship with God. Because of the healing ministry of Christ we know it is God's desire to touch and heal brokenness in every area of our lives.

What is the purpose of the Healing Ministry?

When Jesus sent his disciples out two by two (Luke 9:1-2), he commanded them to "teach, preach, and heal" in his Name.. We believe that Jesus' command was meant not only for the early church but also for the church today. (John 14:12-14) It is our desire to provide intentional prayer for healing as a regular part of our church life. We do this out of obedience to Christ and out of compassion for others.

When we use the phrase "prayers for healing", we are referring to using the spiritual therapy called "prayer" in the process of healing the whole person (body, mind, spirit, and relationships). God also uses medicine and psychiatry in healing, but these alone often overlook the spiritual dimension in healing. We are spiritual beings having human experiences. We need all types of healing from time to time.

Who are the people who make up the prayer teams?

The people who serve on the prayer teams are lay and clergy members of the Church community who believe that the Spirit of Christ is alive and able to touch people today just as Christ did in New Testament times. They have been trained and will be commissioned to this ministry by Fr. Jonathan to whom they are accountable.

The prayer teams have no special power or gift, but they do bring a dedicated commitment to Christ and a compassion for people. Any healing that occurs comes only by way and means of the grace of God in Christ.

What should I expect if I come forward for healing prayer?

There is a prayer minister (there are two ministers at the 10:30 service) at the Mary Altar during the distribution of the bread and wine at each of our Sunday Eucharists as well as other major services such as Ash Wednesday, etc. You may come for a personal need or on behalf of another person. Confidentiality is maintained at all times. Anointing with oil and laying on of hands (after asking your permission) are biblical practices normative to prayer for healing.

After receiving prayers for healing, what should I do?

Just relax and give God time to work. When we plant a garden, we don't pull our seedlings up every day to see how they are doing. It is the same with prayer. Give God time to work. Sometimes prayers for healing are answered very quickly; sometimes healing comes gradually. We believe God is faithful. God's timing is often not the same as ours. Our role is to remain faithful, patient, and fully trusting in God's good will for health.

We hope you will take advantage of this healing ministry of Christ. Whether it’s a sniffle, an upcoming major surgery, a hurting relationship, or struggling with a major decision, your prayer ministry wants to be of service.

Thank you in advance for enabling us to live out our baptism through this ministry.

The National Cathedral in Washington DC is an Episcopal Church

The National Cathedral of the United States of America

The National Cathedral of the United States of America

The National Cathedral in Washington DC is an Episcopal church. Many important funerals, dedications and events are held at the cathedral following the traditional Episcopal / Anglican forms.

In the 1980s, while the west towers were under construction, Washington National Cathedral held a decorative sculpture competition for children. Word of the competition was spread nationwide through National Geographic World Magazine. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader, with his drawing of that fearful villain, Darth Vader.

The fierce head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter, carved by Patrick J. Plunkett, and placed high upon the northwest tower of the Cathedral.

 
From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation, Good Lord, deliver us!
— The Book of Common Prayer

I'm Spiritual, NOT Religious...

By the Rev. George Anne Boyle

In the wake of the New Age, and the ever-growing love affair our culture has with all things spiritual, a new mantra has emerged: I’m spiritual, not religious!  It is the mantra of ex-Catholics and once-in-awhile Protestants and others on the spiritual path. This emerging mantra has grown up in response to religion that looks more like a museum, religion that says you practice THIS way or you aren’t one of us, religion that isn’t relevant to the life I lead, religion that tells us to believe 12 impossible things before breakfast and leaves no place open for questions or doubt.

And there’s this longing and maybe even a presence of energy in life.  Perhaps if you are on the spiritual journey, you have felt this.  Energy that gives life and joy — whether it’s looking at Mt. Baker at sunrise, or playing music with others, or simply sitting with someone in a time of sorrow.  That energy is what the Christian people call the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The followers of this Jesus know this longing and energy only too well.

 What is this longing?  It is the longing to live in community with others from all walks of life — a community that is present in sadness and joy, a group of people searching and questioning and doubting and finding more questions about that presence together.

 It's not about having answers as much as it is about engaging a story.  It is about your story and how your story connects to an ancient story of desert wanderers that, in time, came to see that humanity and this energy they called God mingled and existed through Christ and thus, exists in all of humanity.

Is it possible to practice and grow your spirituality within an organized church?  Yes!  The Episcopal Church holds many possibilities open for those on the spiritual path looking for a diverse community of believers.

The beauty of the Episcopal tradition is that it is open to questions and new possibilities, as well as ancient teachings.  Imagine a spiritual practice that is both grounded in tradition and open to new possibilities.

The Rev. George Anne Boyle is Vicar at Saint Benedict Episcopal Church in Lacey, Washington.

"A place where your questions are honored"

The Verger

In this photo Colin Christie, St. Paul's verger, leads the recessional during a service of the Christmas season. His distinctive uniform is rigorously traditional, dating back centuries. But there is much more to his duties and love of the church.

Colin keeps us historically accurate. There is a wealth of information here Vergers Guild of America

St. Paul's thanks Colin for his service, his expertise, and his wonderful knowledge of church tradition. We cherish his presence at our high services.

The Office of the Verger has its roots in the early days of the Church of England's history. Historically Vergers were responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including the care of the church buildings, its furnishings, and sacred relics, preparations for liturgy, conduct of the laity ( those sometimes unruly parishioners), and grave-digging responsibilities.

Although there is no definitive historical examination of the Office of Verger, evidence from Rochester, Lincoln, Exeter and Salisbury Cathedrals points to the existence of Vergers even in the twelfth century.

During the service itself, a verger's main duty is ceremonially to precede the religious participants as they move about the church; he or she does not typically take any speaking part in the service itself.

It could be argued that a verger's main pride during a service lies in his or her inconspicuousness; vergers often play a very prominent role "behind the scenes" — helping to plan the logistical details of service.

The office's title comes from the ceremonial rod which a verger carries, a virge (from the Latin virga, branch, staff or rod.). The Maces of State used in the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the British Parliament are examples of another modern use of the medieval virge. In former times, a verger might have needed to use his virge to keep back animals or an overenthusiastic crowd from the personage he was escorting or even to discipline unruly choristers.

Ten Things We Should all Understand About the Bible

For several years, Peter Enns has been hosting a conversation on “rethinking biblical Christianity.” In books such as Incarnation and Inspiration and The Evolution of Adam, he articulates methods of Bible interpretation that are in conflict but, he argues, in better keeping with historical Christianity.

We asked Enns to list ten things he wishes everyone understood about the Bible. Here is his answer: 

1. The Bible doesn’t answer all — or even most — of our questions.

Many of our questions, even some of the more pressing questions we face daily, aren’t answered in the Bible. The Christian Bible isn’t an answer book but a story of how Jesus answers for us the biggest question of all: what God is like.

2. The Bible isn’t like God’s version of Apple’s “Terms and Conditions” agreement.

The Bible doesn’t lay out before us God’s terms and conditions, where failure to adhere to one clause in the middle of page 87 will cause a breach of contract and banishment from God’s graces. The Bible is more like a grand narrative that reorders our imaginations and holds out for us an alternate way of seeing reality — with God at the heart of it rather than ourselves.

3. The Bible isn’t a sourcebook for fighting culture wars.

The Bible isn’t a club we use to gain political power or a way of forcing secular culture to obey our rules. America is not God’s country and the Bible isn’t its constitution. Stop it.

4. The Bible doesn’t guarantee “success in life.”

Don’t listen to those T.V. preachers. The Bible isn’t a step-by-step guide to success, as if buried there are deep secrets for being happy, healthy, and rich. It is a book that shows what dying to self and surrendering to God are about. The Bible crushes our egos.

5. The Bible is open to multiple interpretations, not just one meaning.

The Bible is ancient and obscure, and its stories are “gapped” and flexible, which allows—even demands—readers to interpret the Bible legitimately in various ways. This is exactly what has been happening among Jews and Christians for over 2,000 years.

6. The Bible invites debate.

An extremely important lesson for Christians to learn from Judaism is that the Bible invites debate. In fact, it can’t avoid it, given how open it is to multiple interpretations. Winning Bible feuds with others, getting to the right answer, isn’t the end goal. The back-and forth with the Bible, and with God, is where deeper faith is found.

7. The Bible doesn’t “record” history objectively but interprets it.

The biblical writers didn’t try to get history “right” in the same sense an author of an academic textbook does. Instead, they interpreted the past in their place and time, for their own communities, to answer their own questions of faith. That’s why the Bible contains two very different “histories” of Israel and the four Gospels that recount Jesus’ life differently.

8. The Bible was written by Jews (and at least one Gentile in the New Testament) in ancient times.

This may sound too obvious to say, but it’s not. The biblical writers were ancient writers expressing their faith in God using the vocabulary and concepts of their ancient cultures. When we transpose our language and concepts onto biblical writers, even if we are trying to understand the Bible, we will actually distort it.

9. The Bible isn’t the center of the Christian faith.

Some form of the Bible has always been a part of the life of the church, but the Bible isn’t the center of our faith. God is — or, for Christians, what God has done in and through Jesus. The Bible doesn’t draw attention to itself, but to God.

10. The Bible doesn’t give us permission to speak for God.

At least not without a lot of wisdom and humility behind it. Knowing the Bible is vital for Christian growth, but it can also become intoxicating. We don’t always see as clearly as we might think, and what we learn of God in the Bible should always be first and foremost directed inward rather than aimed at others.


A faith that demands uncompromising fealty to a literal reading of its myth and metaphor seems to me a perilously brittle faith.
— William James

The King James Version of The Bible

I was bandying with an atheist the other day about translating Hebrew. He was complaining about the use of the word "unicorn" in Psalm 22:21. This, of course, is a holdover from the King James Version, which was published about 400 years ago. Aside from suffering from a dearth of scholarship compared to today, it also has a lot of words which have simply changed meaning over the centuries.

The point of telling you this is not that we now know the Hebrew word re'em actually refers to a buffalo—but rather, how incredibly resilient the KJV is. In fact, it struck me as I was talking with this fellow: in my experience, nearly everyone who doesn't know much about the Bible quotes from the KJV. Even though it's 400 years old and by most standards a far less accurate translation than any modern English Bible you can find.

Why is that?

Well, I think it's because it uses language in a way that is both distinctively unique, and also especially apt to its subject matter. I'm not a biblical scholar on the KJV, but to my understanding, the translators actually invented a kind of regal-sounding dialect of English because they felt that the "normal" English of the time didn't have sufficient gravitas. They wanted it to really sound good when you read it. People back then didn't actually speak the way the KJV reads. Its language was deliberately embellished.

In some ways, that makes the KJV an inferior translation (translators these days are much more concerned with using English words and expressions that we're familiar with, for simplicity of language) but in a very important way, the King James Version is a pure translation.

It has something modern translations do not attempt:

Poetry.

Magnificence.
 


I mean, you have to figure out—when you read something and you want to read it respectfully—you have to figure out what it is you’re reading. Is it poetry or is it prose? If you read poetry and think it’s prose, you will make the most astonishing mistakes.
— John Polkinghorne

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer

Unique to the Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer is the collection of worship services that all worshipers in an Anglican church follow. It is called “common prayer” because we all pray it together, around the world.

Our present prayer book in the Episcopal Church was published in 1979. While other worship resources and prayers exist to enrich our worship, the Book of Common Prayer is the authority that shapes our worship.

"The Book of common prayer has seeped into the collective consciousness more profoundly than that of any other book written in English - even the bible"

Brian Cummings - Oxford press

For 500 years this book has marked the hours (Morning & Evening Prayer),  the days (Feasts and Festivals), the most profound sorrows (At the Burial of a Child), sufferings (Visitation of the Sick), happiness (The Order of Baptism), crisis, and triumph (Prayers and Thanksgivings Upon Special Occasions).

It has shaped the inner life and branded the tongue of the English-speaking peoples.  It's phrases and rhythms did not merely enter our language, they largely defined it.

Although he was a ferocious athiest, George Orwell, probably the 20th century's most astute critic of English, frequently quoted the BCP from memory, and insisted on being married...

"Dearly beloved ..."

"to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

"those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder."

and buried...

"deliver your servant from all evil and set him free ..."

"may angels surround her and saints welcome her in peace..."

"in the midst of life we are in death."

...to the timeless words of the Book of Common Prayer.

On page 845 you will find the basics of our faith clearly and succintly spelled out for all to see and understand. It is our Catechism; our FAQ.

If you ever need to pray, and don't know what to say, look in the Book of Common Prayer. If you can't express your highest thoughts in words, have a look. A monumentally significant work.

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”

”My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
— Albert Einstein