Since January 2013, Amy and I have hosted a bible study group. (More on the study group below.) As part of the small group, I send out weekly or semiweekly emails. These emails are both my notes for the upcoming week’s discussion and are intended to provide the group members and others a means to dive deeper into the topic than we will generally get to on Tuesday night. Most posts on this blog are these emails. I hope that this blog can be a resource for others.
This blog provides a more public forum for my theological reflections. Proverbs says that “iron sharpens iron,” and I have always found that discussions with others, even on-line, help me grow spiritually and theologically. When two or three are engaged in a discussion anything Divine, there the Spirit of God is as well. My most meaningful course at William & Mary was Midrash, where interpretations of the biblical text would range freely, and in these wide ranging discussions, the Spirit of God worked. Therefore, any comments are welcomed and encouraged, particularly those that might provide a different interpretation.
I am Charles B. Jordan, Jr., the husband to a wonderful wife for more than 25 years, the father of several children (two by birth, a few we have helped on the way, and one awesome daughter-in-law). I am an attorney by training and a teacher of God’s word by vocation with degrees in Government and Religion from the College of William & Mary in Virginia and a JD from the University of South Carolina. God has called me into the Episcopal Church. My home church is The Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have an eclectic theology that I hope is based in the ancient and historic teachings of the Church Catholic. I enjoy teachings from all perspectives – from Calvinist to Orthodox, and from Modern to Ancient. Please see my small group outline for prior lessons and readings.
WHY “ANCIENT ANGLICAN”
I am “Ancient” because that is where Christ found me and where I find meaningful Christianity. In his Introduction to St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, C.S. Lewis says that we should have a preference for old books. He writes that “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.” My childish faith did not survive the Biblical criticism of William & Mary and the critical thinking skills of law school. But I experienced my Aldersgate moment, in of all places, the early pages of Jaroslav Pelikan’s The Spirit of Eastern Christendom. For the first time since giving up on youth group camp meetings, I knew that God, in the fulness of the Trinity and in the Reality of the Eucharist and who is beyond ineffability, was present within me, near me, and surrounding me. But I was only found when when I gave up my childish ways and was lead into the ancient Church of the early Fathers.
The ancient and Anglican come together in the English Reformation. The early Anglican Reformer Nicholas Ridley, in forging that third way between Rome and Geneva, would appeal in all matters to the Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins – which is that Christians should follow that Faith which has been believed “everywhere, always, and by all.” As Vincent himself points out in the 5th century, “Scripture seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters.” And every good heresy is firmly grounded in the Scripture’s themselves. With 10,000+ Christian denominations, sects, and movements, where does truth lie? It lies in that which has been believed, taught, and confessed everywhere, always, and by all. The intent of the English Reformers was to recover these beliefs and practices.
I am “Anglican” because through it’s “beauty of holiness” Christ first spoke to me. In the spiritual dryness that follows critical thought, it was the rhythm of the liturgy of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer that sustained me. Liturgy speaks when we cannot. And within the Anglican Church, and particularly the Episcopal Church in the United States, I find a church that embodies the understanding that “tradition is the living faith of the dead whereas traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” Ideally, our tradition is rooted within that faith once delivered by the apostles but it must have a willingness to engage the world. Times and cultures change. How and in what direction are where the battles are waged, but our ancient faith as expressed in the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, the Eucharistic Rites, and in all the liturgy remains.
Amy and I have hosted the bible study group in our home since January 2013. She cooks dinner for everyone which allows us a time for fellowship before any teachings. Wine is always available to gladden our hearts. Most nights are a discussion, and at times, I have invited others to lead an evening. We always end our discussion with the Episcopal service of Compline. Over the years, we have covered a wide range of topics and authors.
I began my teaching ministry in 2003 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I taught high school Sunday school, Alpha Small Groups, Wednesday night class on Jaroslov Pelikan’s The Christian Tradition, and adult Sunday School. In 2012, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina split, dividing our parish in December of that year. This small group remained when our members decided to continue meeting despite the diocesan divisions. We are a reflection of the love and respect of those who decided that what we share is more important than our differences. In the words of The Sun News, “[they are] one thread of continuity that remains intact after the break-up.” My hope is that through this group (and now through this blog) that there may be that unity of the body of Christ as taught by Paul in Ephesians 4.