Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Will Anglican conservatives be left behind? Are Roman conservatives the new Pharisees? (2)

One reason why Anglican conservatives are Anglican conservatives is that other forms of conservative Christianity have their downsides.

The extraordinary story of the growth of the Mars Hill churches under the leadership of Mark Driscoll - an example of one man bandist conservatism?- has now become the story of ballooning growth followed by sudden deflation as the network announces it is dissolving itself following Pastor Driscoll's resignation.

An obvious virtue of the "mainline" denominations, slightly boring though they may be in the face of Mars Hill type stories during their growing phase, is that they never fall over when one person resigns or retires.

But what is the future of Anglican conservatism both locally (your patch or mine) and globally? Is the direction Rome is heading towards provoking conservatives to think carefully lest we get "left behind"? And I am not talking about the Rapture!

Consider. Under Francis as Pope the direction of Rome is towards being a church which both holds on to formal doctrine and extracts as much freedom within that framework to express mercy in the practice of the church's life, with special reference to fellowship at the Lord's Table. Let's call this direction "truth-and-mercy."

Is this a direction Anglican conservatism is heading in? Locally and globally?

Somehow, you see, Francis is managing to offer a text which says 'truth is unchanging' and a sub-text which says 'nevertheless I am going to work for mercy in its application.' Under his papacy Rome is attempting to speak about 'truth and mercy.'

A question we Anglicans should ask (IMHO) is whether the 'text' we offer is truth and the 'sub-text' conveys mercy or whether we offer a 'text' about truth which has a 'sub-text' which shows no mercy.

I find myself these days listening to fellow conservatives saying things re matters such as 'what the Bible teaches on human sexuality' (not terrifically different from Rome), 'if the church changes formally what is teaches through canons and constitution then ...' (i.e. locally, the Motion 30 debate in ACANZP), and 'we love and welcome gay and lesbian people in our congregations' (again, very similar to Rome).

Textually I understand what is being said, it is pretty much what I say myself, and it is consistent with the "truth" part of "truth-and-mercy."

But I wonder about the 'sub-text' of such talk.

If Anglican churches here and elsewhere, in the end, announce a 'text' concerning departure from established national/trans-national Anglican churches such as ACANZP because something changes about freedom to conduct blessings of same sex partnerships, what will the sub-text be?

No matter what the words of the 'text', will the sub-text of an announced departure be, "Gays and lesbians not welcome here"?

Or, will all be well?

All my questions here are questions for discussion. I am not a foreseer of the future. But my personal hunch is that I and other conservatives will not be departing because we cannot see how departing expresses mercy.

9 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

" Under Francis as Pope the direction of Rome is towards being a church which both holds on to formal doctrine and extracts as much freedom within that framework to express mercy in the practice of the church's life, with special reference to fellowship at the Lord's Table. Let's call this direction "truth-and-mercy."
- Dr. Peter Carrell -

A good summation (again) of the stay-put or get-out methodology of current religious doctrinal squabbles, Peter.

'Truth and Mercy' wins every time (in my view) over dogmatic conservatism. After all, are we not all 'Sinners'? Like Jesus reminds the Pharisees and Scribes: "Who among you has not sinned? Let him cast the first stone!".

I notice they ALL drifted away. (And these were the so-called 'Righteous').

Jon White said...

I believe that the intent of conservatives may well be to offer a sub-text of mercy. But the perception of many LGBT persons is, indeed, "you aren't welcome." Despite Francis' efforts, few will feel wanted in a church that views them as "other" or worse "disordered."

Jon White

Peter Carrell said...

A comment from Rosemary:

Peter, surely truth IS mercy.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
That is a good point: truth is merciful; mercy is not mercy without truth.

Nevertheless I think we can state true things in ways which are lacking mercy.

(Yes, we can attempt to be merciful in ways which lack recognition of the truth).

Michael Reddell said...

Any time the church resists sin, that can come across unmercifully. One things of abortion - or adultery for that matter. But not to resist is, eventually, to abandon a claim to be the church of Christ - who is not only Saviour, but righteous judge.

Is same-sex "marriage" a point at which to draw the line? Perhaps not. But Peter Jensen on Saturday made a powerful case that it was indeed a matter of salvation, and of the very character of the church.

Father Ron Smith said...

" Peter Jensen on Saturday made a powerful case that it was indeed a matter of salvation, and of the very character of the church." - Michael Reddell -

And that is precisely why I would never consider attending a talk by P.Jensen.

Jesus Christ died to save sinners, not to condemn them to hell. That is one of the assertions of the scriptures that is basic to Christian doctrine.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael / Ron

(I am regretful not to have been able to hear ++Peter's addresses on Saturday, needing to be elsewhere in the Diocese).

I presume ++Peter would have been talking about 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. While it is absolutely true that Jesus Christ died to save sinners, it is not at all clear to me, Ron, that he did not condemn sinners who do not avail themselves of the mercy of God.

Even apart from consideration of those who will not inherit the kingdom in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, this Sunday's gospel reading, Matthew 25:1-13 presents clear teaching from Jesus that sinners who foolishly do not know the Lord are consigned to eternity outside the presence of God, i.e. to hell.

Kurt said...

“And that is precisely why I would never consider attending a talk by P.Jensen.”

Yeah, Fr. Ron! With an attitude like Jensen’s that no wonder Sydneysiders burned down the first Sydney Anglican church!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

I just came across an article from 'Religion Dispatches' (Re-posted on 'Kiwianglo') that describes on video link the recent Southern Baptist Conference on 'Gospel, Homosexuality and Marriage',

One very good video shows Glenn Stanton, a Representative of 'Focus on the Family' movement in the U.S. - addressing the very subject of Truth & Grace discussed in your comment, Peter. Perhaps you might like to read it.