Thursday, June 12, 2008

Do Christians understand Christianity?

There are almost as many blogs in the universe as there are stars, as John the Bloggist once predicted on the basis of something his namesake once said (John 21:25). But few match the beauty in writing and illustration as Kelvin Wright's Available Light. In a recent post he reports on a discussion with some Buddhists, including some who converted from being Christian, and quotes one of them:

"Buddhism produces enlightened people," she said. "Christianity doesn't."

Kelvin's reflections on this comment are worth reading; and I have little to add to them. For me the comment comes in the midst of a period of encountering some of the weird, wacky, if not downright wicked aspects of Christian behaviour. Why should people seek enlightenment through Jesus when his followers bear witness to forms of Christianity which appear to collude with, rather than overcome people's anxieties, fears, and eccentricities?


Anonymous said...

Peter, is this enlightened?

Or 'weird and wacky'?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi - the news item you give the link to involves action ('gay marriage') I consider to be wrong but neither weird nor wacky because it is rational to relate to other people with care and commitment. My point about 'enlightenment' includes how Christians might respond to the action as reported. Will our response involve grace or fear as the driving force behind the response? Will it be couched in terms which respect human dignity or which denigrate fellow humans?

Anonymous said...

Peter, these two men (Anglican priests) said these vows to each other:
'With this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship etc'.
How does one respond 'with grace' to a parody of Christian marriage?
Would Jesus have 'graced' this occasion with His presence (& maybe a miracle)? Or would He have done something else? Would He have 'blessed' these men (as was sought in the invocatory prayers) or would He have warned them of hellfire?
What does 'care & commitment' mean in this case?
Is there any discipline within Anglicanism or only what a bishop thinks in his/her patch?
You'll know what ++Orombi has said about this; this has set the scene for GAFCON.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi - I think one can think an action wrong and still respond with grace to it. One can also respond to parodies of sacred matters with grace. Frankly a lot of what Christians do is a 'parody' measured against God's gold standards, so I suggest a lot of Christians are showing grace a lot of the time as we go along with these parodies!

In the particular instance of a 'gay marriage' a gracious response could include naming this as a parody, as misleading about the sin involved, while acknowledging that two people demonstrating care and commitment is better than alternative pursuits of (say) a promiscuous lifestyle.

It may be useful to recall that Jesus in John's Gospel tells the woman caught in adultery to sin no more but does not tell the woman at the well to leave her current partner.

Anonymous said...

So do you mean a homosexual coupling is the lesser of two evils, compared to a life of promiscuity? I would agree - but the homosexual partners would indignantly deny that it is evil at all, in fact they would say it is a divine gift and an example of godliness to the church.
Which is it? It can't be both.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi - 'lesser of two evils' talk may frame consideration of a committed same sex relationship versus promiscuity in an unhelpful way. Arguably neither are evil but both involve wrong-doing in God's sight. Lots more could be said - perhaps needs to be said - but I think I will leave it there for now!

Anonymous said...

"Arguably neither are evil but both involve wrong-doing in God's sight."

How can something 'involve wrong-doing in God's sight' - i.e. have the character of sin (paraptoma) in the biblical sense endorsed by the BCP Confession - and not be evil (poneros)? I don't understand the semantic distinction here.
Nor do I understand what moral force is imported by the modern expression 'committed same-sex relationship'. I suppose I had a 'committed same-sex relationship' with my friend Andrew many years ago - I shared his house, paid him rent, and did my half of the chores (well, actually I don't recall whether either of us did any chores). But of course, that's not what is meant today by the expression. Does bringing a sexual dimension into male-male or female-female friendships make it more moral or less so?
I appreciate you don't want to stigmatize homosexually inclined persons. Neither do I! But isn't clarity part of charity?

Peter Carrell said...

Hello. I hesitate to use the word 'evil' to describe (some)wrong-doing because 'evil' in popular usage has a strong element of 'gross wrong-doing'. I quite agree with you that theologically-speaking all wrong-doing is evil. But internet comments are more popular usage than nuanced theological language, hence my making a distinction open to precisely the critique you bring to it!

Clarity is part of charity. So is avoiding unnecessary stigmatization of people! So, yes, as far as possible I am trying to avoid that - though I am unlikely to have succeeded to everyone's satisfaction!