Thursday, February 7, 2013

Welcome one another

EXTRA BIT: That hopey changey thing we long for so that the lot of humanity improves. Well here is modest testimony to the possibility for change for the better.


The verse which guides us to Romans 14-15 as applicable to divisive issues in the church is 15:7,

'Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.'

What are divisive issues but issues which affect our 'welcome' to one another. Issues dividing Protestants from Rome affect our welcome to eucharistic tables controlled by Rome. Until comparatively recently issues dividing Presbyterians from Anglicans affected their welcome at our eucharistic tables! Responding to an enquiry re a wedding in one of our churches I am reminded that not all ministers of the gospel are welcome to take weddings in Anglican churches.

It is old advice when engaging with Paul's writings to ask what the 'therefore' is there for. Thus from Romans 15:7 we proceed backwards. In 14:1 we find a bookend to 15:7,

'Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.'

In the current controversy it could be said that each side thinks the other is 'weak'!

Weak, on the one side, in faith and full of fear, unnecessary fear and timidness in the embrace of human diversity.

Weak, on the other side, in understanding of Scripture and of facing up to its rigour and application to 21st century life.

So each might say.

Yes, I think Romans 14-15 is worth a post or two in the present context.


Anonymous said...

“We feel that we must take this action as TEC is already using our name, Diocesan seal and other marks of our identity to impersonate us publicly, and is organizing in South Carolina, all with the stated goal of taking over this Diocese and her parishes, including Prince George. Not to take action is simply bad stewardship of the Gospel and of churches like ours which were established and maintained over the centuries by our ancestors as centers of traditional, biblical Christian faith, and without any financial support from The Episcopal Church. This and many other parishes joining the suit are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and the Diocese of South Carolina pre-date the establishment of The Episcopal Church. Yet, TEC has declared its intent to take our property.”
—The Rev. Paul Fuener , Rector, Prince George Winyah, Georgetown

Anonymous said...

"The sentimentality we see in connection with "cheap grace" is that which always, feeling itself to be loving and "nice," manages to reconcile good and evil. It does so by ignoring the evil in a thing, by refusing to name and renounce it. Rather, it focuses on the good that is within the person, ideology or circumstance. In our fallen world however, evil, rarely, if ever, comes in its unmitigated state but always together with a good, and with much that seems good as well. Evil comes with "niceness" attached.

In our time, because the scriptural moral good has been denied and replaced by (of all things) political correctness, the church, inundated with the culture, is largely given over to this kind of "niceness," and it replaces the work of the Holy Spirit; it replaces real love; it replaces the idealism that has within it the wisdom and knowledge of God's will and way.

Church leaders are often asked to dialogue with those who hold and propagate fictions of innocence. In other words we are asked to sit at table with unreality and reason with it. An impossibility.

A valid idealism (from the standpoint of pointing to truth) has a goal other than that of the monistic ideal of bringing all things into one, reconciling good and evil.

We do not dialogue with darkness, with untruth, with unreality. We reprove it. We denounce it. It is said the he who sups with the devil needs a long spoon, a very long spoon indeed. In fact, there is not one long enough in the created universe.

Eve in dialogue with the serpent got us where we are. Dialogue with such was the effective method used to break down orthodoxy and destroy the old-line churches in America. Dialogue with darkness never works for good, for it can only be endless. That is the method. It never stops. There is no stopping place.

The motives behind the "cheap grace" that we see today go back to one thing: the determination of the enemy to introduce homosexuality and sexual perversion and permissiveness into the church. The aim of the enemy is to reintroduce the worship of Ahab and Jezebel.

The "cheap grace" we see today, even and especially that of the most clever, subtle sort, has behind it the old antinomian heresy."

Leanne Payne. Founder of Ministries of Pastoral Care. Author of 'The Healing Presence' and 'Restoring the Christian Soul'.

Father Ron Smith said...

You speak of 'weakness', Peter, as though it might be antithetical to the Gospel ethos. In fact, Saint Paul speaks of human weakness as the basis on which God's strength can be made perfect (Cor. 1 & 2).

In 2 Cor.12:9-10, the writer says this:

"(The Lord) has said: 'My grace is sufficient for you: my power is at its best in weakness'. So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast, so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ's sake. For it is when I am WEAK that I am STRONG."

Not a bad antidote to hubris! Eh?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
There is no antidote to genuine hubris, as the hubristic one does not think anything needs antidoting :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter. I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is, often the most hubricious are completely unaware of their constant failure in the area of admitting any weakness. This is a danger we all need to avoid. There are no spiritual gifts in the exercise of triumphalism.

Peace and all joy! (St.Francis)

Pageantmaster said...

"What are divisive issues but issues which affect our 'welcome' to one another."

Well it depends what you mean by divisive issues; as +Tom Wright put it how do we distinguish between those matters which make a difference and those which don't. At what point do those differences become at odds with the answer we should give to Jesus' question: 'who do you say that I am?'

Is he just a nice bloke who wanted us to just love one another, or is He the King, with a narrow path to follow for our own good?

I fear that gets lost in the Episcopal Church's Gospel of Indiscriminate Inclusion and is it about to get lost in Justin Welby's Doctrine of Indiscriminate Reconciliation Peter?

Anonymous said...

It may to one's ears sound quite delicious
To call your opponents 'most hubricious'.
But here, forsooth, the accurate stylistic
Will say you should write instead 'hubristic'.
And yes, I wot I am pedantic,
But even so, it can drive me frantic
To stumble 'pon such neologisms
Press'd in the service of old schisms!
For when our orthodoxy you deride,
Remember: 'hubris' is the excess of - Pride!

Martinus Pedanticus (with apologies to Alexander Pope)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Pageantmaster,
Clearly some divisive issues differ from other divisive issues. Paul thought food offered to idols was an issue which could be overcome; he did not seem to approach circumcision in the same way.

Today we are not about to enter communion with (say) Mormons or Muslims; but we are working on whether Christians can overcome divisions re homosexuality, women in ordained ministry and such. It may prove that we cannot overcome the latter divisions within 21st century Anglicanism. But [with certain unitarian-leaning Anglicans apart] what is being discussed is division between Trinitarian Christians and not divisions over the Trinity itself. So worth, in my view, working on.

Peter Carrell said...

When you could have been malicious
In response to neologistic 'hubricious'
Instead you were delistic*
In pointing out 'hubristic'
As correct English spelling
To make a better telling
Thus some expression of gratitude
Is proper response to your latitude!

*Alternative spelling of 'delicious'!!

Anonymous said...

"What do you think of my last book of verse?"
"I'm glad it's your last!" was the reply so terse.
"What! Should I put more fire in my poems?" I enquire.
"No," he replies, "put more poems in the fire!"

But this is worth listening to: the story of this English professor and how she encountered Christians who listened and asked her questions - and prayed.


Pageantmaster said...

Thanks Peter.

I don't think one can just use belief in the Trinity as the test of what is a diaphora. Once again Bishop Tom Wright has some wise words from his Diocesan Address in 2010:

"in the case of sexual relations outside the marriage of a man and a woman, the church as a whole, in all its global meetings not least the Lambeth Conference, has solidly and consistently reaffirmed the clear and unambiguous teaching of the New Testament. But the substantive issue isn’t the point here. The point is that the Church as a whole has never declared these matters to be adiaphora. This isn’t something a Bishop, a parish, a diocese, or a province can declare on its own authority.

You can’t simply say that you have decided that this is something we can all agree to differ on. Nobody can just ‘declare’ that. The step from mandatory to optional can never itself be a local option, and the Church as a whole has declared that the case for that step has not been made. By all means let us have the debate. But, as before, it must be a proper theological debate, not a postmodern exchange of prejudices."

Now +Tom Wright did give quite some thought to how one decided what was a diaphora and therefore capable of decision-making locally through supsidiarity and those differences which do matter and where decisions must be made at a global level by reference to Scripture, but of one thing it is absolutely clear, the things which do matter have to be dealt with by the whole church not just one province and they do matter and cannot just be ignored in some woolly way, for we know that it just will have consequences for the provinces which do so and that includes TEC, and as we saw recently may well do for my province given the clear warnings from Africa.

I would recommend reading his address which deals with just the issues you mention in your thoughtful post today.

If a province decides to ignore this and do their own thing as TEC has, it will have consequences - as it has long been said, it tears the fabric of communion, and is exactly what the Covenant which you have advocated was supposed to deal with and to provide a mechanism for dealing with those differences.

The newly invented Doctrine of Indiscriminate Reconciliation will not work, but it looks as if people are going to have to learn the hard way.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Leave the grammatical pedantry to the moderator please, rather than discuss it across the thread with another commenter.
More light less heat in debate will thus be assured.

MichaelA said...

The poetry on this thread is .... interesting! ;o)

Back to food offered to idols - I am not sure that it is really applicable to doctrinal disputes: Paul's injunction to Christians was to refrain from *doing* something which might offend a brother.