User Friendly

Richard Giles, the ex-Anglo-Catholic Dean of Philadelphia, author of Creating Uncommon Worship (the tasteful Vicar’s guide to re-ordering empty churches), is at it again.

Richard (whose English friends will remember as a wacky but orthodox Yorkshire incumbent) has gone native in ECUSA, as witness the following vocal gems:

‘Our liturgical space is designed to be user-friendly to members of both Jewish and Muslim traditions, who share with us spiritual descent from Abraham… Our community is diverse in terms of age, race, gender and orientation. Jesus is our Way, but not to the exclusion of all other paths to God.

‘A recurrent theme of the Cathedral’s life is journey. As well as being a way of life, journey is expressed clearly in our Sunday Liturgy when the whole assembly moves through the renovated space between ambo, font and table. Journey suggests that we are called to travel, rather than to arrive, to be dynamic rather than static. We seek to be progressive in our faith, grateful for the Biblical scholarship which now uncovers the deep meaning of the Scriptures beneath their literal face value. Inerrant Scriptures seem to us about as believable or supportable as infallible popes. The cathedral is affiliated to the Center for Progressive Christianity (’

Those of you left behind in the quasi-fundamentalist ghetto of traditional Christianity may like to visit the website of the Center for Progressive Christianity and contemplate the Eight Points in which its faith is expressed.

You will want, in particular I would think, to ponder the Eucharistic theology expressed in Point Three: ‘We understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’s name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God’s feast for all peoples.’; and to wonder why there is in the Eight Points no concept of sin, no doctrine of atonement, no mention of everlasting life, and no notion of reconciliation beyond mutual acceptance.

The Study Notes to the Eight Points will help you assess whether the New Religion which Dean Giles has embraced is at all compatible with that expressed in the formularies of the Episcopal Church. You will, I suspect, conclude that whilst what happens in Philadelphia Cathedral is still mercifully ’Uncommon’, it could hardly be described as ‘Worship’.


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