Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Vows Book: Anglican Teaching on the Vows of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Vows Book: Anglican Teaching on the Vows of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity

Article excerpt

The Vows Book: Anglican Teaching on the Vows of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity. By Clark Berge. (Mt. Sinai, New York: Vest Pocket Publications, 2014, Pp. 142. £ 9.50, paper).

Clark Berge, a member of the Society of Saint Francis and an Episcopal priest, wrote an easily readable book with the intention, as the subtitle implies, to give an overview of the Anglican teaching on the counsels of perfection: obedience, poverty and chastity. Unfortunately the reader will not find too many specific Anglican teachings on vows within this publication. Instead one will find many reflections about obedience, poverty, and chastity that are admittedly from the perspective of an Anglican Franciscan, but can be accepted inter-denominationally. The reason for the lack of a specific Anglican teaching certainly is, that there have not been religious orders within Anglicanism for centuries. Those have been revitalized in the context of the Oxford Movement in the nineteenth century as Berge explains in the beginning of his book. The audience of this book is presumably members of religious communities or those who think about joining a religious life.

The first thing that strikes the eye when opening the book is that it is not written flush left and right like one would probably expect. In lieu the reader will find long thin columns that help to read the book quite quickly. The book is separated into six chapters, which in turn are divided in different parts. At the end of each part one can find questions for further personal reflection of the precedent content. Each chapter ends with a short summary. The first chapter provides basic knowledge about the calling of religious orders in general and in particular of Anglican religious orders. The author unrolls that the calling to a religious life in a community of brother and sisters is a particular calling, but religious share the baptismal mission of all Christians to live differently within the world. Caring for the sick and a commitment to peace building have been ways in which Anglican Orders have served the church.

Chapters two to four are the body of the book. This part addresses obedience, poverty and chastity. Essentially obedience would originally mean to listen. With regard to religious communities that includes listening to God in the Bible, to the founders of the respective orders, to the concrete communities of brothers and sisters, to the inner voice of oneself and to God who reveals himself within nature. …

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