Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Theology

If Everything Requires a Cause, What Caused God?

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Well worth a read.

Very philosophical for a Saturday afternoon.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2014 at 14:23


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From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2282 – “…Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”
2283- “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 13, 2014 at 15:17

Robin Williams: Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian

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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.



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 13, 2014 at 14:31

The Tragic Death Of The Funeral

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The Tragic Death Of The Funeral

Like most people, I don’t particularly relish encounters with death. But, welcome or not, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve clasped a woman’s hand as her breathing slowed, became sporadic, and finally ceased. Through the cramped hallways of an ancient farmhouse, down which no stretcher could be maneuvered, I helped heft the sheet-wrapped body of a family’s matriarch to carry her to the waiting hearse. When a small Oklahoma church mourned a member who’d fallen asleep at the wheel, late at night, early in life, I was there, thinking of the joyless “Joy the World” the band of believers had choked out the day before that December 26th funeral. In each of these situations, the death of the young or the old, there was within me a desire to lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, to shine a ray of life into the gloom of death.

Because of that desire, when I first heard about families opting to have a so-called “Celebration of Life” service for their departed loved ones, instead of a funeral, my interest was piqued. Perhaps here was a viable alternative. The name alone effuses a positive, uplifting appeal that “funeral” or “memorial service” can’t begin to match. Celebrations are good, right? And, life, well, who can possibly have any qualms about that? Perhaps this approach to confronting death, at least the ceremonial part of saying goodbye, would help alleviate some of the pain associated with, and expressed in, a more traditional rite. Maybe it was time to have a funeral for the funeral.

So what makes a Celebration of Life different? Rather than a focus upon the loss of a loved one, this service rewinds the present into the past, to draw the mourners back into the life lived by the deceased. It’s like a miniature, enacted biography of the person, with a focus upon those qualities, interests, and achievements that his family and friends found most endearing about him. Whereas a traditional funeral is structured around a liturgy, in this ceremony stories about the person—serious or lighthearted—take center stage. It is his funeral, after all, so shouldn’t it be about him?

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 4, 2014 at 16:29

Women Bishops Approved By Church Of England

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Told you so.


The General Synod of the Church of England voted today that women can be consecrated as bishops, 18 months years after a similar measure was controversially voted down.

The vote required passage by a two-thirds majority in the synod’s three houses of bishops, clergy and laity. The House of Bishops approved of women bishops 37 to 2 with one abstention, the House of Clergy approved 162 to 25 with four abstentions, and the House of Laity approved 152 to 45 with five abstentions.

In an interview with BBC prior to the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Justin Welby, who supported consecrating women bishops, said there’s a “good chance of the first woman bishop being announced very early in 2015, possibly been chosen before that.”

In 2012, a vote to approve allowing women bishops passed among bishops and clergy but failed by six votes among lay members.

Like the vote that year, more traditional Anglicans, including evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, argued in front of the synod that having women as bishops would go against the teachings of Jesus. If Jesus intended women to be among the top church leaders, he would have had a woman among the Twelve Apostles, some of the traditionalists said. But a higher number of more conservative Anglicans were swayed to vote for women bishops this year, ending two decades of controversy over the role of women in leadership since the church started allowing women priests in 1994.

“Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing. The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds,” Welby said in a statement.

The high-ranking Archbishop of York, where the synod had met, called the outcome a “moment of joy.”

“To those who ask ‘what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision,” Rev. John Sentamu of York said in a statement. “Our answer to the hurting should not be ‘get over it’ but rather ‘we will not let go until you have blessed us.’”

The Church of England, which is the considered the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, counts among it 80 million members in more than 160 countries. The church traces its history to Henry VIII, under whom the church split from Roman Catholics. All Anglicans share the same basic tenets of faith but views on gender, sexuality, worship style and other issues vary widely by region.

For example, the communion includes the two-million member Episcopal Church in the United States, one of the most liberal denominations in the country and as well as in the Anglican communion. Its current top leader, Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a woman. Episcopalians also ordain gay priests and voted in 2012 to bless same-sex marriages and ordain transgender priests. In 2003, the church voted to elect its first gay bishop.

Anglican Communion members in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand also consecrate women bishops.

And South Africa…

The news is on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Official Site here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 14, 2014 at 19:58

First Church of England Women Bishops Could Be Appointed by Christmas

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It’s a foregone conclusion.

Members of the Synod are expected to authorise the admission of women to the episcopate in what is being billed as a historic vote in York on Monday .

The Telegraph:

The ordination of women bishops could be fast-tracked through its first parliamentary stage within just over a week, if the Church of England’s General Synod finally approves the change.

Members of the Synod are expected to authorise the admission of women to the episcopate in what is being billed as a historic vote in York on Monday.

The legislation would then need to be accepted by Parliament before receiving royal assent meaning that the first women bishops could be appointed as soon as Christmas.

Sir Tony Baldry, the MP who speaks for the Church in Parliament, disclosed that plans are being drawn up for the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament to sit on July 22, just before the summer recess, to approve the measure.

That would then mean it could be considered by the Commons and Lords in September…

Rest here, with a video.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 13, 2014 at 13:41

If the Episcopal Church is the American Component of the Anglican Church, Why Are There Anglican Churches in the US?

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It’s a new question being asked at Yahoo (NZ) answers, with some of the strangest of responses…

The Episcopal Church is generally pro-gay. Many don’t like that, so they left to become Anglican. Some are recognized by other Anglicans, but some are not. They’re working on it.

Wade in and help them over there.

Or here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 12, 2014 at 12:44


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