Revelation vs Mystery

This is a response that I gave at the first Episcopal Church Foundation Fellows Conference at House Of Redeemer in New York in I think December of 2000. All the papers and responses were ultimately published in the ATR. Without too much difficulty you can reconstruct the outlines of the paper to which I am responding. Dr. Pressler is arguing for an inductive definition of communion. That is he is for looking at the churches that claim membership in the communion and asking what are the minimal conditions for communion that can be discerned from this investigation. In this article I identify the reasons that cause first world and two thirds world Anglicans to categorize their opponents as inherently immoral in their approach to theology. I make some suggestions for a theological rationale for a pastoral response by the South to the irregularities in the churches of the North.

A Reply to Titus Presler’s “Old and New In Worship and Community”
by Leander S. Harding

1. Titus Presler and I were colleagues in the Diocese of Massachusetts and I remember being spellbound as he recounted some of his missionary experience. I am very appreciative of Dr. Presler’s capacity to enter deeply into the experience of African Christianity and the art with which he is able to convey that experience to us. I remember many years ago being inspired and challenged by his experience in Zimbabwe. Something vital and refreshing of the Spirit of Christ had touched him and through his talk touched me as well. It is wonderful to have a chance to hear more of that story.

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The Ministry And The Center

This sermon was reprinted in the Festschrift for my teacher and former professor of systematics at Andover Newton Theological School, Gabe Fackre. Dr. Fackre’s systematic is called “The Christian Story” and he and his wife have authored a very useful book for use in parishes called “Christian Basics”

The Ministry And The Center
A Sermon Preached At The Evensong Of The Joint SEAD And Confessing Christ Conference, On November 4, 2000, In St. John’s Episcopal Church, Stamford, Connecticut, by
The Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding

What is the central task of the church? What is the central task of the church’s ordained ministers?

The official answers to these questions have varied little over centuries: To preach the Gospel, to administer the sacraments, to pronounce blessing and pardon. In practice in the time I have been an ordained servant of the church there have been at least three competitors for the answer to the question what should the clergy do and what should be their central occupation.

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What The Clergy Need To Know

This was written for a SEAD series. It bears on some of the responses to my article on “Are Ordinations Too Elaborate?”

What Do The Clergy Need To Know?
The Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.

The invitation to reflect on this question causes me to be glad and grateful that I know some things and wish devoutly that I knew better some other things. I am very aware that what I have to say about this question has a great deal to do with my context in ministry. I was trained in seminary to provide pastoral care, liturgical leadership, preaching and teaching(in about that order of significance) for a settled Christian people. I now find myself increasingly, in a missionary context in a culture which is at once sophisticated and superstitious, and in which many people have never heard, or barely heard or misheard, the fundamental Christian proclamation. The big thing that clergy need to know is that the calling is shifting to a more explicitly missionary, evangelical calling. I doubt we need an utterly new seminary curriculum but we do need to approach the seminary experience with a sharpened sense of the missionary shape of ordained service in the contemporary church.

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Are Ordinations Too Elaborate?

This was originally published in the NECA (National Episcopal Clergy Association newsletter.) I understand the editor got hate mail about it from at least one bishop famous for an emphasis on lay ministry. It also touches on the discussion below

Are Ordinations and Celebrations of the New Ministry Too Elaborate?

There is a criticism which is often heard in our church these days that ordinations are too elaborate. The ceremonies and festivities that surround an ordination or the celebration of a new ministry are thought to imply an inappropriate significance for Holy Orders. If I may put words in the mouths of the critics, the complaint is that,”After all, baptism is the central and most important fact of Christian life. It is through baptism that one becomes a Christian and through baptism that the church reconstitutes its life. The ministry of the baptized is the fundamental ministry, and the ministry of the ordained is to be servants of the servants of God. By elaborate ordinations and celebrations of new ministry we give the impression that Ordination is more important than baptism, that the clergy are the real Christians. Our ordination and institution ceremonies reinforce an outmoded clericalism, have distasteful overtones of authoritarianism, and undermine the ministry of the laity. Look at the Celebration of New Ministry in the Prayer Book. The people give the new priest a Bible, stoles, Prayer Books. In the end nothing is left. Everything has been given away.”

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The Power And Dignity Of The Priesthood

This was published in an edition of the Sewanee Theological Review devoted to ministry. It touches on the discussion on this site about the priesthood.

The Power and Dignity of the Priesthood

A Talk given at the Annual Meeting of The Society for the Increase of the Ministry
At Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, November I, 1995, By the Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1994

Much has been written about the perception of a crisis in the priesthood. The Cornerstone Project was developed by the Episcopal Church Foundation in order to help strengthen ordained leadership at a time when clergy are reporting themselves to be discouraged, confused and highly stressed. One of the most recent findings of the Cornerstone Project is that the parish priests in the project had difficulty articulating a theology of priesthood. The staff found that the priests in the project could discuss theological readings with competence but that when they spoke about their parish ministries they did not tend to speak in theological categories. I was one of a group of clergy, theologians and Cornerstone staff who attended a conference at the College of Preachers in June of 1995 to attempt to understand the meaning of this finding and to suggest a course of action. The thoughts that I am going to share with you tonight represent my contribution to that discussion.

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