Papa Z's Views and Comments

Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Friday, June 30, 2006


Some thoughts on leaving a church . . .

Let me begin by saying that this is not intended to be a "personal testimony" nor an apologia for my own ecclesial choices. That is not the point of this particular post.

What I
DO want to talk about are what seem to this observer to be very typical reactions to those like myself who have left the CEC for another Christian body (regardless of what that body happens to be. Contrary to the opinion of many within the CEC all those who leave do NOT go to Rome -- but that is a possible subject for another post.)

The three comments I am most likely to hear, go something like this:

"You left us because you were never one of us in the first place"


"You never understood the mission of the CEC in the first place"


Okay, you've left us. Now go away and leave us alone; how dare you make any commentary at all."

All three of these statements are ones I'm personally very familiar with -- and all are fallicies. None stand up to honest critique and debate.

To suggest that "
one left because one was never 'one of us' in the first place" first is just not logical. Does this mean that although Newman left the Church of England for Rome "he was never truly an Anglican"? Historically, that just won't wash! Or that Richard John Neuhaus was never a Lutheran, because he became a Catholic? Or that Father "X" was never a Baptist, because he felt called to the CEC? The list could go on and on -- and never make any more sense than these examples give. Unless, of course, the one making the statement uses "one of us" in a gnostic sense -- as in, "you never really had the true insight" or "you never spoke in tongues enough, so you weren't real" or (with apologies to Groucho Marx) "you never said the secret word"! If THIS is what is meant -- then the theological dissentions within the CEC are worse than I thought.

To suggest that "
one left because one never understood the true mission of the CEC" is a similar, but not identical argument. On the one hand it suggests that the "true mission" was, again, some sort of secret to which only a few were privy. I honestly don't believe that the leadership -- past or present -- of the CEC would truly wish to go down that road. On the other hand, such a statement has been used -- both in my hearing, and to me personally -- as a deliberately deragotory remark, as in "you never did get it right -- let me fix you".

This suggestion also ignores two potential realities. 1) That many of the people who have recently left the CEC are
NOT "Johnny-come-latelies" but rather have served in the CEC for a decade or more. (Considering the denomination has only a 14 year history, this point is rather telling). 2) That perhaps the VISION of the CEC HAS changed -- and what is being expressed now is NOT what many of us originally "signed on to" way back when. This suggestion takes any responsibility for the turmoil currently being experienced in the denomination away from denominational leadership -- and blames the poor bishop, priest, or deacon who actually did believe in the ORIGINAL VISION.

Finally, the "
okay, now you've left us; go away and leave us alone, and don't you dare even comment etc.," sounds, I must admit, extremely petulant. There are two potential problems here. 1) When this type of statement has been used (at least against a former member of the clergy) it has been used to try to silence that clergyman -- while behind him, and against him, the rumor mill can spin. I have first-hand experience with this. When I left, I kept my mouth closed for many months -- only to find out that there were some who were deliberately using my silence (which I had promised to give) against me. 2) Frequently, from a managerial standpoint, the reason why a person has left an organization is considered important! Perhaps the person actually had valid points! Perhaps the organization needs to take stock and figure out where the problem really lies. (The Scripture passage: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" comes to mind.)

I know that I speak for many when I say that I truly hope and pray that the CEC can solve its own internal difficulties -- difficulties which, in my experience, are largely of its own making. I know that I speak for many when I say that I honestly wish no one in the CEC harm. But as I said in my 2006 paper (and in a previous post)

The Convergence Movement as a whole, and especially the emerging denominations, must end the hostility -- and I say end, because the hostility is already there -- toward those who have found the movement to be a bridge and not an end in and of itself. Libel and slander, open shunning of church members who have been called elsewhere, degregations and depositions of clergy without due process etc., are abominations which must cease at once. Such actions destroy lives, scandalize the faithful, and are unworthy of those who bear the Name of Christ.

Papa Z

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006


My papers!

Greetings, and thanks to all who have written asking for copies of the papers mentioned in my previous posts.

Just a few quick notes:

Both papers were presented at an annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies -- an academic -- and deeply spiritual -- body which meets yearly in various cities across the USA. During my participation in that body, I have come to know and to love many brothers and sisters in Christ from very different perspectives than my own -- and I truly believe that many of them have come to know and to love me.

The reason why I continue to participate in the Society? Because the members present are willing to recognize that the Body of Christ operates outside of their own particular denominational background. Catholics, Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland), Pentecostal Holiness, Church of God in Christ -- and many, many more that cannot be named, have decided that talking is better than fighting -- even if and when we don't always agree.

The first paper I presented was in 2001 at the Society meeting at Oral Roberts University (from which I hold my Bachelor's Degree). It was early in my academic career -- and I will freely admit that I have done better research and scholarship! (I will ask my readers to pardon the fact that I had just undergone major surgery -- and that the final editing of the paper was not up to my own personal standards!)

The second paper I presented was last March -- and the paper (which I agonized for months over) was extremely well received. In my own personal opinion, the fact that the CEC has not chosen to actively participate in the Society for Pentecostal Studies has been a major mistake -- as the "movers and shakers" in the ecumencial movements between classical Pentecostalism, the Charismatic movement, the Convergence Movement, and the mainline churches all tend to participate in this annual conference. (I might add that I have made this same statement for years -- and was actually mocked by my former bishop -- who felt that I wasn't Pentecostal enough -- for attending these Pentecostal meetings!!!)

I would be very interested in comments and criticisms -- and if enough interest is generated, would consider posting the entire papers on-line.

Comments are welcome.

Papa Z

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006



Let all who read forgive the rantings of a proud papa! (No, I never promised that this blog would always be serious and academic!!!)

My oldest son, David, Jr., of whom I am MOST proud, has passed his Eagle Scout "Board of Review" and has been informed that the National Headquarters of the BSA have approved his application!

The short story? David Allen Zampino, Jr. will be honored by the Boy Scouts of America -- and his peers -- on August 18th, 2006, at a ceremony to be held at the American Legion Hall in Delavan, Wisconsin.

His papa could not possibly be more proud!

Papa Z

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Monday, June 26, 2006


A Few Words on Vows.

'Take the hilt,' said Gandalf, 'and speak after the Lord, if you are resolved on this.' "I am," said Pippin.

The old man laid the sword along his lap, and Pippin put his hand to the hilt, and said slowly after Denethor:

'Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Peregrin son of Paladin of the Shire of the Haflings.'

'And this do I hear, Denethor son of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondor, Steward of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honour, oathbreaking with vengeance.' Then Pippin received back his sword and put it in its sheath.

From "The Return of the King" -- Book 5, Chapter 1 "Minas Tirith", by J. R. R. Tolkien

Recently, a CEC priest in another part of the country wrote two articles for his local newspaper on the subject of vows -- and the breaking of vows. (In the interest of full disclosure: I have never met this man, and over the last 10 years or so, have E-mailed him all of two or three times. I have no brief with him and wish him the best in his ministry.) At this time, when members of the clergy are leaving the CEC in spades, the entire question of fidelity to one's ordination vows does become a crucial -- even central issue. It seemed obvious to me that the author of the aforementioned articles was making a rather direct criticism of those in the CEC who HAVE left (and that he had one or two particular circumstances in mind!)

The author gave three reasons as to why he felt that some members of the clergy break their vows. They were as follows: (The following are direct quotes)

1 Disappointment. A minister may become disillusioned about his/her congregation or the denominational structure or hierarchy. Bishops and other denominational officials are imperfect and those who are not prepared to accept the flaws are likely to lose heart.

2 Ambition. A certain amount of ambition is a good thing. Jesus did not discourage people who wanted to be “great.” He did, however, teach that this was achieved by becoming a “servant of all.” Selfish ambition, however, is a diabolical motivation that drives people to do things that benefit themselves without thought or care of the harm done to others.

3 Pressure. Sometimes the pressure is from family or friends who feel that better treatment will be received elsewhere. “They just don’t appreciate you and your talents,” they may say. The temptation is to seek greener fields.

The author goes on to say that these are reasons, but not excuses.

My readers may wonder why I opened this post with a lengthy quote from "The Lord of the Rings". It is to demonstrate, in very clear terms, that the keeping of vows -- AND the breaking of vows -- works in two directions.

Let me point out that I do not disagree with the author's three reasons. I have known persons and circumstances who have fallen into all three categories.


There is a good deal more that could be
AND should be said. I can identify two other reasons which might cause a clergyman to leave his church.

1 The vow of obedience a priest makes to his bishop
ALSO presupposes a promise made BY THAT BISHOP to that priest -- a promise to be a faithful bishop and pastor to that priest, and to remain true to the authentic teaching of the faith. A bishop who is not faithful to his clergy violates that vow. This was the position in which many members of the CEC who were once in the Episcopal Church, USA found themselves. Their bishops were no longer being faithful to the teachings of the Church. Were those priests wrong to leave the Episcopal Church under those circumstances? Apparently, the CEC didn't think so, because many former Episcopal priests have joined the CEC.

By the same token, if a CEC bishop openly violates the canons of the church or teaches a different gospel than that the CEC has received, has not that bishop broken his own vow?

It is true that some in the CEC have left that body for the wrong reasons and in such a way as to cause scandal to the faithful. However, it is also true that some in the CEC have left that body for precisely the reason stated above. When a bishop ignores the canons, or openly teaches doctrine contrary to what the church has received, are his priests yet bound to him?

And what of those CEC bishops who are openly courting disaffected Roman Catholic priests? Are not those bishops encouraging others to break their vows? Is this right?

2 Finally, there are circumstances in which for honest theological reasons, someone might choose to leave one body for another. Is this not what John Henry Newman did? Or in the 20th century, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus? Or Thomas Oden? Or Thomas Howard? Or even, I might add, the author of the articles upon which I am now commenting?

Again, there is a proper way -- and an improper way -- for a clergyman to leave one body for another (and I have known instances of both). But when one goes through the proper channels, and asks to be released, can this honestly be considered a broken vow?

I don't pretend to have all the answers -- and I certainly appreciate the time and thought which went into the original two articles. But I do think that the original analysis was incomplete.

I would greatly value comments.

Papa Z

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006


The collapse of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

For all intents and purposes, the Charismatic Episcopal Church is dead.

This is a difficult post for me to write, as I was a member of that body for more than 11 years, having first become acquainted with the denomination in 1992, just a few short months after the founding. I was formally received in July of 1993, was ordained deacon in August of 1995, was ordained priest in October of 1998, was created "Canon Theologian" in November of 2002, and resigned in July of 2004 -- although my resignation was not accepted until December of that year (an issue for another post). I was formally received into the Catholic Church in February of 2005.

The experiment which was "Three-Streams Christianity" or "The Convergence Movement" has come to a painful, if not unexpected, conclusion. The Great Lakes diocese is in utter disarray, having lost 10 or 11 churches, one of its 2 bishops, and most of its clergy. The Diocese of Maryland has lost its bishop (full disclosure: Bp. Philip Zampino is my father) half of its churches and the majority of its clergy. The South Central diocese gives every evidence of being about to implode. Serious and credible charges concerning moral behavior and financial mismanagement are flying thick and fast at the very highest levels. And, sadly, the denominational "spin doctors" are working overtime. All of this grieves me more than I can express.

But I'm not surprised.

More than 5 years ago, I presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies entitled "The Emgergence of Convergence" detailing the history of the Convergence Movement and the Charismatic Episcopal Church. A re-birth of authentic Catholic thinking and practice among Evangelical and Charismatic Protestant Christians seemed to be a distinct possibility. Authentic avenues for greater unity in the Body of Christ were being explored.

What changes the last 5 years have seen!

This past March, I presented another paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies entitled "The End of Convergence?" in which I detailed the development of the movement as a whole (and the CEC in particular) since the original paper was presented. I raised several serious concerns which have already begun to prove frighteningly accurate.

I based my 2001 paper on the structure of the "Chicago Call" -- an evangelical statement, or manifesto, signed in 1977 by several dozen key evangelical leaders. The "Call" called for 8 things to happen:

1. Historic Roots and Continuity -- A Recovery of "Full" Christian Heritage

2. Biblical Fidelity -- A respect for the "Historic Understanding of the Church" in Biblical Interpretation

3. Creedal Identity -- A Need for a "Confessing" Church

4. Holistic Salvation -- A Need for Full Participation in God's Saving Activity

5. Sacramental Integrity -- A Need to "Awaken the Sacramental Implications of Creation and Incarnation"

6. Spirituality -- A Need to "Rediscover" the Devotional Resources of the Whole Church

7. Church Authority -- A Rejection of Autonomy, Individualism, and Competitiveness and a Need to Rediscover Biblical Models.

8. Church Unity -- A Rejection of Ahistorical Sectarianism and the Need to Recognize the Desire of Christ.

I based my 2006 paper on how well the Convergence Movement in general and the CEC in particular have followed through on these commitments.

The results have not been, in most cases, encouraging.

I concluded my paper with four suggestions as to how the Convergence Movement could move forward from its place of stagnation and more fully participate in the Greater Church. These were:

1. The Convergence Movement as a whole, and especially the emerging denominations, must determine whether it is a means to an end, in and of itself (i.e., the permenant creation of new denominational structures, etc.) or a bridge to greater unity within the Body of Christ (i.e., being a conduit to more traditionally historic Christianity like Orthodoxy or Rome). In other words, the movement must understand its own identity. Ecumenical dialogue should be taken in a spirit of humility and genuine desire for Christian unity.

2. The Convergence Movement as a whole, and especially the emerging denominations, must end the hostility -- and I say end, because the hostility is already there -- toward those who have found the movement to be a bridge and not an end in and of itself. Libel and slander, open shunning of church members who have been called elsewhere, degregations and depositions of clergy without due process etc., are abominations which must cease at once. Such actions destroy lives, scandalize the faithful, and are unworthy of those who bear the Name of Christ.

3. The Convergence Movement as a whole, and especially the emerging denominations, must realize (as many Pentecostal groups have had to address) that adopting an episcopal model of ministry does not excuse those in ministry from oversight and from accountability. Such accountability needs to occur not only in moral and financial matters, but also in the discernment, education and mentoring of candidates for public ministry. When the accountability does not begin with such discernment, unfit persons are often raised up, creating situations which can and do cause scandal in the Body of Christ.

4. Finally, if the various parts of the Convergence Movement, especially the emerging denominations, determine that they are an end, in and of themselves, requiring their own permanent denominational structures, etc., doctrinal and disciplinary consistency are an absolute necessity. Confusion about what is to be believed, what is to be taught, and what standards of behavior are considered normative are unacceptable and will ultimately wreak havoc and destruction within the movement.

I don't hate the CEC -- I hate what I see happening. I have many friends still in the denomination, and I wish them nothing but the best. But I do not see the denomination -- as it is currently known and understood -- surviving as anything more than a shadow of its former self for more than a few months longer.

If anyone is interested in the full text of my 2006 paper, please let me know.

Papa Z

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