I was going to post about what makes an Anglican an Anglican but checking in to Stuff I see we have a priest here who has held the office of Diocesan Exorcist while not believing in demons.So let's hold what makes an Anglican until tomorrow (hint: South Carolina is Anglican) and consider this wonderful illustration of what may be wrong with our church: saying one thing and believing another.
The background to the local news item is the global item about the Pope performing an exorcism (or did he?) on a man in a wheelchair. Natch our local press goes to a go-to-guy to get comment and who better than a former diocesan exorcist who does not believe in demons.
Actually our Catholic Archbishop does not come out too well in this item. Though required by canon law to have a diocesan exorcist, he does not have one!
For the record, I am with Michael Hewat, also quoted in the article. I do not have a lot of experience in this area, but I believe that beyond the realm we call psychosis and neurosis, the devil and his minions can gain and retain a foothold on lives and houses. When we discern that, we should pray for deliverance.
For local Christchurch readers with long memories, one of the most memorable experiences of my curacy was being part of an exorcism performed in a house where the manifestation was the sound of a ticking clock. The then Diocesan Exorcist was Archdeacon Peter Witty. It was definitely a case of watch, listen, learn and never forget.
Back to our present day colleague who does not believe in demons. I see his comments as illustrative of something which is a problem in our church today: saying one thing openly with our lips and believing another privately in our hearts.
Here are a few other examples:
What we say: "We are proud of being a three tikanga church."
What we believe: Our church is not working. There are many problems as a result of being a three tikanga church which we are not addressing.
What we say: "We think gay people in same sex partnerships should be able to be ordained."
What we believe: Our parish needs a married vicar who has a young family to help regrow the Sunday School.
What we say: "Our prayer book is an amazing taonga of which we are very proud, especially when we hear how popular it is in North America."
What we believe: For next Sunday's service I can make whatever changes to the prayer book I want in order to make it relevant to 2013.
What we say: "We think its great that we are the kind of church which can make radical decisions such as electing the bare-footed, dreadlocked Justin Duckworth to be Bishop of Wellington."
What we believe: Apart from one or two bold decisions like that, we haven't got many clues on how to turn our aging, declining church around.
You may be able to supply more!
PS A few days ago I posted two links to a series of three Living Church essays. The third essay, Beyond Provincialism by Colin Podmore is now posted.