Friday, June 30, 2006

Fun at Windsor LegoLand

The picture at the right is my son, Joseph, after he realized that he was supposed to be "scared" during a rollercoaster ride. When he realized that being scared was part of the fun, he had a great time and went from riding the small coaster to the two big ones at LegoLand in England.

Now he wants to go to Six Flags and ride the "really big" coasters there!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

General Convention

I read something by Bishop Gary Lillibridge here that I wanted to reflect on a bit.

Bishop Lillibridge said: "When we are forced to legislate and vote on theological issues, the inevitable result is that winners and losers are created."

The truth is that General Convention was never designed to debate, decide, or vote on theological issues. GC was designed to govern the Church. It is designed to debate budgets, diocesan creation or consolidation, set out rules concerning qualification and training for ordained ministry. GC sets out the disciplinary rules for the Church and provides (or should provide) direction of the ministry of the Church. GC does not, or should not decide the Faith of the Church because everything GC does that is not canonical or constitutional is considered recommendary. (Which makes me wonder why we go through the whole mess because if you don't want to follow the recommendation, you don't have to.)

The Faith of the Church has already been given. I made this point in my post on Ordination. When changes are made in the faith of the Church (such as the proposed change on moral teaching), those changes should be debated by the Bishops and Presbyters of the Church - in concert with the other members of the communion. In truth, there really is no current mechanism to change the teaching of the Church, so we've been making it up as we go along. The method we selected this time has not been a good one for reflection or debate. Perhaps we should come up with a better process before we try to change the faith of the Church.

Phil Snyder

Monday, June 26, 2006

Peace! Be Still!

Last Sunday's Gospel (Mark 4:35-41 (5:1-20)) is the story of Jesus calming the storm. I thought it was very apt given the storm we are comming through in the ECUSA.

We know the story. Jesus tells the disciples to go across the sea to the other side. He is tired and sleeps in the stern of the boat. A great storm comes up so that waves are coming in over the sides of the boats and they are about to be swamped. The disciples wake Jesus up with "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" Jesus rebukes the wind and waves with "Peace! Be still!" and the wind ceases and the water is calm as glass. He rebukes the disciples with "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?"

In my experience with "storms" in my life, I notice two reactions from Jesus. At times, He has rebuked the storm with "Peace! Be still!" and things calm down around me. Other times, Jesus has held me in his arms and whispered to me "peace. be still." When I headed his voice, the storm still raged, but I was protected and knew that I was save in Jesus' arms. When I didn't heed Jesus' words, I found myself yelling at him: "Do you not care that we are perishing!" and Jesus again says "Peace. Be still."

In the ECUSA's present storm that derives from colliding fronts, there is great wind and the waves seem to beat on us. Many are afraid and worried that our ship will sink. We've asked Jesus to rebuke the wind and the waves, but we are causing them. It is time to let Jesus hold us in His arms and listen to Him as He whispers "peace. be still."

In the comming days and weeks and months and, probably, years as the storm that is the ECUSA moves and plays out, let us renew our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us let him hold us and we hold him. Listen to him in our hearts: "Peace. Be still." knowing that we are his children and that storms will rage about us. Ships will flounder, but we will always be in Jesus' arms.

Phil Snyder

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Rights. The reappraising side speaks the language of "Justice" and "Civil Rights."

First "Civil Rights" and then Justice.

Before God, we have no rights. There are no civil rights in the Church - or there should not be. Currently, I am teaching a class on C. S. Lewis' book "The Great Divorce." In Chapter 4, Lewis hears the conversation between "The Big Man" and the saint sent to him (who murdered a mutual acquaintance). "The Big Man" says that he wants his "rights" and refuses to ask for "bleeding charity." The saint responds that only by asking for "the bleeding charity" can anything be given in Heaven. Only by not insisting on one's "rights" will we ever get anywhere. None of us want our rights - for by getting what we deserve, we will all end up in hell and alone.

As for justice, the reappraisers talk as if Justice and Righteousness can be disconnected, but that is a false dichotomy. You cannot be just and, at the same time, be unrighteous. I have been told by several men who know that the word "Justified" in Greek is a passive verb form of "righteous." The two are the same. You cannot be unjust and righteous. Righteousness is a right relationship with God.

The question on sexuality all comes down to what is sinful behavior and how do we determine sinful behavior. The Church has always taught that there are certain behaviors that are always wrong - theft, murder, adultery, fornication, idolatry, greed, lust, covetousness, etc. Homosexual sex has always been in that list of behaviors proscribed all the time - it has been an unrighteous behavior that (like all persistent sins) leads to a breach in our relationship with God and with the Church and leads to darkness of ourselves and our understanding of everything.

Now, a small part of The Church, catholic ( or universal) wants to change that. How do we go about changing it? What tools do we use? What is there for precident on making a change? It seems to me that the reappraisers want to simply declare that it has been changed and that we were wrong without persuading the rest of the Church (let alone the Anglican Communion) that their method for changing the moral teaching is acceptable.

Phil Snyder

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I just returned from the ordaination of three men to be deacons in Christ's Church. During the Sermon, Bishop Stanton reminded us who are ordained and the laity that the ordination vows are to be "loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." (emphasis mine)

The past perfect verb "has received" shows an action that was completed and has implications for today. My brothers and sisters, the revelation has been received. It is not in the process of being received. We may come to understand the revelation clearer or more fully, but it has been received. The question of blessing Same Sex Unions and ordining men or women sexually active outside of holy matrimony is not one of discipline (as the reappraisers would have us believe) but one of justice and righteousness. Justice and Righteousness are not opposites nor are they two separate concepts. They are the same. It is impossible to be just without being righteous and impossible to be righteous and unjust. We who are ordained must live in right relationship with God and are called to a higher standard of behavior because we are leaders of the faithful. We re-present Jesus Christ to the Church and to the world. None of us can live that righteous life, but that does not exclude us from the obligation to try and to fall to our knees in repentance when we fail. Sex outside of marriage is failing to live a righteous life. Holy Scripture and Tradition are clear on this and the Church was clear on this until 2000 or 2003.

I am and will remain an Episcopalian in communion with my bishop and the Archbishop of Cantebury. I will stand on the faith that this Church has received and will hand that faith (and no other) to those among whom and with whom I minister.

Phil Snyder

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This is just sad

I recently spent almost two weeks in London. (I love frequent flyer miles and hotel points - the flight and hotels nights were almost free. We had to pay taxes on the flights, but $400 for four people to fly business class ain't bad!)

On Saturday, June 3rd, we went to Cantebury (which was fantastic! Just to pray in a place where prayer had been offered daily for over 1400 years was wonderful!)

One funny thing happened when we got the Cantebury gate. Right next to the gate is a famous temple of the god of Commerce (not that god, the other one.)

See the image above (I hope).

Phil Snyder

General Convention Reflections

I worked during this past General Convention, but stayed in touch through the herculean efforts of Kendall Harmon ( and Standing Firm (, not to mention the hardest working elves in the world (

I believe that the ECUSA is not compliant with the Windosr Report. What does this mean? I don't know. I do know that God is still God and Jesus is still my Lord and Savior. I know that I have a faithful Bishop (+Stanton) and Rector (Fr. Clif +) and a wonderful parish ( I will continue to minister to those in prison as I have done for the last 10 years. I know that no matter what the Episcopal House of Bishops or House of Deputies say, that God's truth does not change.

I believe that a revival is coming in the Episcopal Church in the USA. It may take time (about 50 years), but I believe it will come. In my studies of Church History, God always seems to allow the Church to stumble and fall before a revival. We are seeing her stumble now. It may be dark here in the ECUSA, but God's light will not be shut out.

Phil Snyder

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My First Post

I am Phil Snyder, a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. My interests include Theology and Apologetics, Prison Ministry, History, the Military (I'm an Air Force Brat), and politics (a word derived from "poly" meaning many and "tic" a blood sucking insect, thus many blood sucking insects).

Theologically, I consider myself to be a classic "reasserter" or conservative. I do not believe that the Church has the authority to change the revealed moral law. I accept the ordination of women as presbyters and bishops in the Church, but I believe that all who are ordained have an obligation to teach what the Chuch teaches (and has almost always taught) on matters theological and moral.

Politically, I am a social and fiscal conservative. I believe in helping the poor, the sick, the homeless, and those in prison, but I also believe that the Federal Government is a bad way to accomplish this. Helping the "least of these" is not a goal in itself, but a by product of a society that accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

That's enough for a first post. May God bless you all

Phil Snyder