Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why should we trust those who promote change in our church?

Yesterday's post raises some significant questions about those who are pushing for change in our church about the theology of marriage. What is the long-term agenda of clerics such as Clay Nelson and Glynn Cardy? Why should we trust that they will stop at changing marriage if we permit them to have their way on this matter? What is the content of the 'Christianity' which informs their proposals about changing marriage?  Surely we should only change our understanding of marriage if we think this is the Christian thing to do on the basis of an understanding of God as revealed through Christian Scripture to the Christian church?


Watching this TV interview of Clay Nelson on TV yesterday morning, I am left with no idea what Christianity means to this minister of the "gospel". His talk is all about promoting every religion, about not teaching the Bible to young people growing up in a Christian or post-Christian country whose roots remain, however much he is embarrassed by it, in the Christian gospel. He seems more concerned to enforce the Bill of Rights than to support the sharing of salvation in the name of Jesus Christ.

What if one day this church woke up to the fact that it had embraced a secular theology (we will suppose there is such a thing for a moment) rather than Christian theology? We would be like Esau after he realised he had sold his birthright for a mess of potage.

In particular, as a conservative, I have no idea why we conservative Anglicans should have any truck with proposals for changing the theology of marriage on the basis of the prognostications of ministers in Auckland who, far from seeming to subscribe to 'another gospel' seem to subscribe to anything other than the gospel.

It is galling that in the name of Christ, Clay Nelson seems keener to fellowship with atheists plotting against Bible in Schools than with the Churches Education Commission.

In short, it seems incredible that a few days after Glynn Cardy moving a motion at General Synod seeking to propel our church into change on its understanding of marriage, the church of which he is Vicar is associated via a fellow staff member with the public undermining of the mission of fellow Christians. It raises significant questions about why we should have any trust in the agenda being pursued by (what I believe) is a well-organised lobby across the dioceses of Auckland, Waiapu and Dunedin to bring about change in our church because it is not now clear whether this agenda is being driven by a secularised theology or by a well-founded, biblically-based Christian theology.

Why should our church pursue change which would align us somewhat indistinguishably from secular society around us, when the secularization of society seems to be the strategic priority of those promoting change?


Perhaps those pushing for change who do not agree with Clay Nelson's attack on Bible-in-Schools could publicly dissociate themselves from his attack?


In a comment yesterday Glynn mentioned Title D action. Well, let me say to Glynn and to other readers here, I detect a wide questioning in our church about why the Bishop of Auckland continues to permit the ministers at St Matthews-in-the-City to have the freedom they exercise to mock, question and dispute the beliefs and actions of fellow Christians. I suggest the time is coming when Bishop Ross Bay is going to need to dry out the wet bus ticket, harden it up with some doctrinal cement, and tackle the running sore which St Matthews-in-the-City has become in the life of our church.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"In short, it seems incredible that a few days after moving a motion at General Synod seeking to propel our church into change on its understanding of marriage, Glynn Cardy is associated with the blatant undermining of the mission of fellow Christians."

Not incredible at all; it's an entirely logical progression of thought. Many of us have known for a long time that Mr Cardy stands by little of the Catholic Creeds as these have been historically understood and believed. Even Mr Smith realises this, though he may be loath to admit it. Just the same things have happened time and again in North America until the orthodox left or were kicked out. Look at St Matthew's Abbotsford and Jim Packer. Look at a thousand parishes across the USA.
Mr Cardy isn't unique in NZ in his facile post-Christian "progressive" religiosity; Richard Randerson has promoted similar views but without the in-your-faceness that can provoke the semi-sleeping.
Martin the Antitroll

Father Ron Smith said...

"What if one day this church woke up to the fact that it had embraced a secular theology (we will suppose there is such a thing for a moment) rather than Christian theology?"

- Dr. Peter Carrell -

One wonders where is the basis of 'faith' for making this statement. And what, indeed is 'secular theology'. Theology is surely just that: theology - the discipline of reasoning about God! This is not a 'secular' pre-occupation, surely?

I really don't think that Clay is doing anything different from many authentic Christians in questioning the traditional understanding of marriage. Marriage is not just a Christian institution, surely? But Christians should not stand in the way of reasonable research into what, precisely, the institution of Marriage is for other people (with whom we have to co-exist in the big wide world).

There is no real threat to hetero-sexual Marriage in the proposal to allow Same-Sex Marriage. There are serious scholars of theology who believe that to allow Same-Sex Marriage might indeed be, in some way, an encouragement for other couples (heterosexuals) to marry.

The biggest problem with Marriage today (heterosexual Marriage), is the level of unfaithfulness that seems to have become more common. The evidence of divorce rates among heterosexuals is partly due to the fact of the tendency to promiscuity
- wife-swapping - and other such activities that militate against monogamy.

If Gay and Lesbian people could be encouraged into monogamous and faithful relationships, surely this would be an encouragement to others - to heterosexual faithfulness in the institution of Marriage.

Another problem today is that more and more heterosexual couples are not seeking the institution of Marriage - possibly because of what they see as systemic failure of such relationships.

However, if Gay and Lesbian couples were to demonstrate their capacity for faithfulness in a properly constituted Marriage, this would do absolutely no harm to the present system. It could, in fact, create a more positive environment for heterosexual Marriage.

A better 'faith' response to all of this might be the biblical precept: '"Perfect LOVE cast our FEAR!"

Phil Clark said...

Thank you Peter. I am starting to question whether I belong in a church which embraces views such as those expressed by authorised leaders such as Glyn and Clay.

Anonymous said...

Peter thanks for this - you have articulated (far more articulately than I could have managed) the issues and frustrations I have been feeling about the latest St Matthews debacle.

I guess the two questions I have in my head are:

Firstly, why do these people call themselves Christians and remain in the church when as far as I can see they don't believe any of the core beliefs of what defines Christianity? (And no Ron I am not talking about where they stand on homosexuality - I am talking about any sense of respect for any of the things that the church has accepted as foundational during it's long history - things like the authority of scripture, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, the trinity, the sinfulness of humanity and our need for redemption, Christ as the ONLY way to salvation etcetera).

Secondly, WHY OH WHY is the Bishop of Auckland not doing anything about this? Here we have clergy who are blatantly and offensively ignoring and mocking the things they agreed to uphold when they were ordained and nobody is doing anything about it. Where is the accountability?

There seems to me little integrity in the way St Matthews goes about what it no doubt believes is it "prophetic" ministry. Rather they approach the current church with enemity and hostility. Greater integrity would surely be found in stepping away from an organisation they clearly find ridiculous and outdated and going their own way. One can only hope.

Teri

Shawn said...

Ron,
"Authentic Christian"?????

Please, explain your definition of "Authentic Christian".

Is it a minister who believes the Ecumenical Creeds?

Because if that is the case most if not all the ministers at St. Matthews are on public record denying the truth of the creeds, induing the doctrine of the Trinity.

Is it perhaps an acceptance of Anglican theology and doctrine, understood in it broadest sense?

Because I challenge you that the priests at St. Matthews donor in any reasonable sense have any concern for nor love for our shared Anglican theological and doctrinal principles, again understood on the broadest sense.

Is it perhaps a concern for Biblical truth?

Because many of the ministers at St. Matthews are on public record claiming that most of Scripture is pure myth with no historical validity.

Or am I right in believing that your definition of "authentic" is anyone who spouts politically correct liberal dogma? And that your definition if "authentic" takes no heed at all for the Creeds, Scripture, or the Anglican Way, or of the fact that the ministers you are defending have attacked, belittled, denied, and generally spat upon almost every major doctrine of the Anglican Church? Not to mention gone out of their way to insult and offend their fellow Anglicans in deliberately calculated ways, seeking not the good of the Church, but selfish publicity for themselves?

Shawn said...

I want to thank you Peter for so bravely and forthrightly challenging the Bishop of Auckland and the leadership of our Church to take action over this issue, and the ongoing publicity circus that St. Matthews has become.

Thank God the Anglican Church in these islands still has Godly, compassionate and faithful ministers who care more for the integrity of the Anglican Faith rather than for gutless surrender to every demand of the secular world.

Anonymous said...

Shawn, you know as well as I do that Mr Smith is obsessed with the subject of homosexuality (the subject of almost all his posts) and therefore cannot bring himself to condemn an ally in this cause like Mr Cardy for his apostasy. Please leave Mr Smith to his obsession; this one can't be cured by talk (to man).
Both Mr Cardy and Mr Nelson exhibit one of the classic tendencies of cultural Marxism (and its close cousin cultural fascism): the desire to control public debate by censoring and excluding other viewpoints (in the interest of 'public safety'). For myself, I really couldn't care less about their facile and biblically ignorant opinions, but the fact that they hold Anglican licences while repudiating Anglican doctrine brings the faith into disrepute. As an Anglican sworn to uphold the creeds and formularies of the church, I cannot consider them brothers in the faith, and think they should have the integrity to leave and join Lloyd Geering.
I can't imagine Ross Bay wants a fight - who does? But what good is a trumpet that sounds an uncertain call?
Martin the Antitroll

Bryden Black said...

Squeaky record I know - BUT:

Certain gruel, vapid comments need to be soundly countered by the likes of:

Jana Marguerite Bennett’s Water Is Thicker than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness (OUP, 2008). It probes in ways that make much of the current discussion not merely pygmy-like but utterly puerile. I am sick to death with this ...! For it only promotes ... death, not life. And Our Lord came that we humans might have life and life in all its fulness.

Father Ron Smith said...

" And Our Lord came that we humans might have life and life in all its fulness." Bryden Black -

This is a Scriptural Statement, which I accept. I do not accept every fundamentalist Tom, Dick or Harriet's opinions on what Jesus did 'for our Salvation'. Some of the negativity coming out of the Sola scriptura school certainly does not seem to appreciate 'Life in all its fullness', rather it seems to be 'Death to those who think differently from ME.'

Shawn said...

It is not negativity that is being expressed by the growing outrage of many Christians. It is righteous anger and deep concern, even alarm, at the direction that some of our ordained ministers are wanting to take the Church.

Nor is the outrage being expressed solely by evangelicals. as Ron claims. Concern over Clay Nelsons attack on this ministry is coming from across the theological and political spectrum.

And it has spread beyond the Anglican Church. Many of our sister churches, with whom we are supposed to be in cooperative fellowship, are also expressing concern. The Methodist Church for example is deeply involved on the Bible in Schools program. The leaders of our Church have been forced to scramble in order to calm those concerns and to assure the leaders of other Churches that we remain committed to this shared ecumenical ministry.

Clay Nelson has publicly embarrassed our Church, brought it into disrepute, and damaged our relations with other churches.

He should, and must, be held to account.

Bryden Black said...

Mmmm... yes, Ron; it’s a great Scriptural quote, I agree. However, I trust you note equally well the sub-title of this work of Jana Bennett’s ...

MichaelA said...

"There is no real threat to hetero-sexual Marriage in the proposal to allow Same-Sex Marriage. There are serious scholars of theology who believe that to allow Same-Sex Marriage might indeed be, in some way, an encouragement for other couples (heterosexuals) to marry."

There are "serious scholars" around who believe all sorts of bizarre things, but why should that make us take seriously such an obviously incorrect proposition? Same sex "marriage" won't make the slightest difference to whether heterosexual couples marry, nor is that the motivation for those who support SSM – its just a convenient argument in an attempt to lull those who believe in following Jesus' teachings.

"However, if Gay and Lesbian couples were to demonstrate their capacity for faithfulness in a properly constituted Marriage, this would do absolutely no harm to the present system. It could, in fact, create a more positive environment for heterosexual Marriage."

On the contrary, it would make a mockery of marriage, by declaring something to be marriage which is not and never can be so.

"A better 'faith' response to all of this might be the biblical precept: '"Perfect LOVE cast our FEAR!""

Precisely, perfect love does not need same sex marriage, as it does not fear the modern culture which demands it.

"This is a Scriptural Statement, which I accept. I do not accept every fundamentalist Tom, Dick or Harriet's opinions on what Jesus did 'for our Salvation'."

Since no-one asks you to accept "fundamentalist opinions", you don't have to worry! However, what we are all required to accept if we want to be a follower of Christ is the entirety of his teaching. We don't get the option of picking and choosing those bits we like, and rejecting the bits that we find inconvenient or difficult.

Father Ron Smith said...

"There are "serious scholars" around who believe all sorts of bizarre things, - Shawn -

Thanks, Shawn and Yes! you have given us as quite a few references to them in your comments here. I recommend reading the Bible - preferably the Jerusalem Version. It really gives more insight than many of your favourite authors. You will find the Lectionary quite a good guide to suitable daily fare.

Shawn said...

Ron,

The comment you have responded to was from MichaelA, not me.

As an evangelical I read Scripture daily, five chapters and five psalm's morning and night. I find the lectionary does not provide a sufficient amount to do Scripture justice .

I find it bizarre, not to mention laughable, that your endorsing a (warped) version of Sola Scriptura, given how often you attack it. Are you confused in some way?

Sola Scriptura does not mean that I must never read other authors or theolgians. Such a recomendation is ludicrous. There is great value on reading Godly theologians and serious political and economic thinkers.

On Bible translations I prefer the English Standard Version.