Monday, March 26, 2018

A weekend away

One of the best periods of my life - in which, praise God, there have been many good periods - were the years 1984-86.

I was in Dunedin for theological study at Knox Theological Hall (a Presbyterian seminary at which "private students" of the University of Otago, such as my Anglican self, also studied). I am thankful to this day for the outstanding quality of the teaching, the pastoral care and scholarly attentiveness of the teachers and the brilliance of the ethos. In hindsight, it was a wonderful era for Presbyterian ministers in training (a number of whom I have met up with in recent years) and it was near the end of an aeon. By the 1990s all teaching of B.Theol. and B.D. subjects took place at the University itself.

I lived at Selwyn College - an Anglican residential college of the University. Selwyn College then and now has had a mixed reputation: some brilliant and famous alumni have emerged from the College. But around Otago University, any story of heavy drinking fuelling outrageous behaviour, daring pranks and strenuous initiation rites is bound to bring "Selwyn" instantly to mind. Even if it turns out it was students from Arana ... :)

I worshipped at St Matthew's Church, Hope St - an inner city Anglican parish with a reputation as a leading student church. John Meadowcroft was the Vicar and he was an outstanding Bible teacher and leading charismatic. (It is another blogpost for another day to speak about some of the experiences of that charismatic era.)

Selwyn College was founded in 1893 and named after the first and only Bishop of New Zealand, George Selwyn. Is there any other Anglican bishop of the 19th or 20th centuries who has had two university colleges named after him? The other is at Cambridge University.

So this year is the 125th anniversary of that founding and this weekend past was the celebratory weekend. Teresa and I were able to travel down from Christchurch in a leisurely way on Friday. En route we stopped off at Karitane (about 30 minutes north of Dunedin). Its bays are exquisite. World class.

On the way back, yesterday, we journeyed via Aramoana at the northern end of Otago Harbour, then turned at Port Chalmers for a winding route to SH 1 back to Christchurch. This view, from a lookout above Port Chalmers, across the harbour to Portobello, is as good as they come, anywhere in the world.

Within 30 minutes of the centre of Dunedin such brilliant scenes as captured in the two photos above could be multiplied a dozen times. It is the most extraordinary region geographically and scenically speaking. It also has some tough weather. Let's just say it is not tropical there so the vast population of Auckland lives in Auckland rather than in Dunedin. But if Dunedin were closer to Auckland, it would be our largest city and Auckland just a port with some factories around the mudflats!

Back to the weekend. We had a great time with a welcome event on Friday night, photos Saturday morning, a cricket match in the afternoon, a fab dinner on Saturday night, then the opening of a new building ("Fitchett House" - a redolent Anglican name, as some readers here will recognise) on Sunday morning before gathering outside Selwyn's entrance for the beginning of our Palm Sunday church service.

In the pic are Archbishop Philip Richardson (our NZ Dioceses' Primate, former Warden and former student of Selwyn College), Bishop Stephen Benford (new-ish Bishop of Dunedin) and Fr Michael Wallace (Vicar of All Saints, Dunedin - the church which forms part of the Selwyn courtyard). We processed from the entrance to Selwyn around the block to All Saints church itself. ++Philip preached and +Stephen presided at our eucharist.

Archbishop Philip challenged us on Sunday morning to prove to him that there is one person God doesn't love. His point being that everyone of us - each of us utterly unique and different from the other - is loved by God. Without exception. On Saturday night, Bill English, former PM, spoke about his experiences of Selwyn College and what it had contributed to his life. He could not remember why, as a staunch Catholic he and his siblings ended up residents at Selwyn College, but it cannot have done them any harm because they have sent their children there.

Among several speakers on Friday night we heard from David Kirk, former All Black captain and current business leader based in Australia. He paid tribute to Selwyn as a place of transition from the cocoon of home to the independence of adulthood.

Nevertheless the lived experience of Selwyn was not far away in what was said by a range of speakers. In that actual history of the college, alcohol has been mixed many times with the "stupidity of youth" (a phrase used in Bill English's address), with predictable results. There was a lot of drinking when I was there. I imagine there is less these days. I think students are more serious about meeting assignment deadlines than we were.

What remains a challenge for the College is what Archbishop Philip addressed in his sermon yesterday morning: how to give expression to the love of God in a community of young people bound together for a relatively short period of time. A starting point is that Selwyn has always been strong on being a community. I can recall lots of alcohol drinking in 1984-86 but we also had supper together, in small groups, Monday to Thursday evenings. Coffee or tea. And biscuits.

Where there is tea and biscuits, there is the love of God! 


Brendan McNeill said...

“Archbishop Philip challenged us on Sunday morning to prove to him that there is one person God doesn't love. His point being that everyone of us - each of us utterly unique and different from the other - is loved by God. Without exception.”

I want to be generous to the Archbishop. He may well have provided additional qualification to this assertion that is not included in the blog post. However, if this was the substance of his message, then without further clarification this assertion is at best a half truth, and potentially a misleading oversimplification.

God does not love everyone unconditionally. He commands all men everywhere to repent, to believe and to be baptised. Otherwise what was the purpose of the cross of Christ? If someone rejects the grace of God as revealed in Christ, where does that place them in terms of God’s love and affections?

Aging theologian R C Sproul sums it up perfectly in the video clip below.

Then there are the more troubling verses in Matthew 7:21-23 (and elsewhere):

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

If God loves these evildoers ‘without exception’, why does Jesus send them away with those chilling words ‘I never knew you’?

I am deeply concerned that some Anglican clergy appear willing to issue bland ‘feel good’ assurances about God’s love being ‘without exception’ when for many it may prove to be a false assurance. Will God hold responsible these clergy for the lives of those who hear and believe this ‘gospel’ and think that nothing further is required of them?

After all, Jesus did say “Many will say to me on that day…” Not a few, not some but many will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.

How does Jesus teaching compare with the Archbishop’s? Can we safely say they are on the same page when it comes to God’s love being ‘without exception’?

Father Ron Smith said...

Peters, what a lovely experience of your alma mater - Selwyn College, Dunedin! And what a sad reflection Brendan has diagnosed as the 'mis-statement' in Archbishop Philip's assertion that there is not one human being God has created that God does not love!

In fact, as the Gospel tells us: "God loved the world so much" that God SENT Jesus into the world in order to redeem it. The qualifications that follow do not cancel out the perfect love that God has shown to the world in Christ

The true Gospel story is that God's love never ends. The task of the Church is to teach and preach that reality without ceasing. The Church has no role in the serious business of judgement. That is the privilege of God alone!

This illustrates the chasm that exists between those who preach' The great love of God as revealed in the Son" and the hell-fire preachers who preach nothing but hell and damnation.

One offers life; the other, only death and damnation.
The Gospel of OLJC is "GOOD NEWS" not hell and damnation - based on the self-assumption of one's own saintliness and the other's unforgivable sin.

"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, let us, therefore, keep The Feast - not with the old leaven of malice and Wickedness, but with the unleavened Bread of sincerity and Truth". We are ALL Sinners. Sadly some are not aware of the reality of that fact. We have no basis for judging the sins of others based on our perception of own (self) righteousness. Jesus said: "Which of you has not sinned, let him throw the first stone".

The Gospel Truth is that none of us is righteous or worthy (even Saint Paul knew this about himself). Nevertheless, we have all been redeemed. Our task, as the Church, is to help others to know God, to thank God and be prepared to claim their redemption.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan and Ron
I mentioned a particularly striking point within a larger content - focused on what it means for Selwyn to be a college shaped by Christian faith.

I don't think it fair to engage with what he said under the conditional/unconditional approach as that question was not being directly tackled.

The question of God loving all, is compatible with the question of God calling all to himself, including challenging all to repentance.

The possibility exists that some of us think some are beyond the pale, outside of God's love, when in fact they are not. "God so loved the world ..."

Of course there are limited atonement Calvinists. But they are wrong. WRONG I tell you!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

I note you haven’t sought to expand any further upon Archbishop Phillip’s address, so can we assume that his assertion that God’s love is ‘without exception’ is a fair assessment of his message?

How then do you reconcile this teaching with Matthew 7:21-23 that I referenced in my previous post?

What about the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13? Five were accepted, five were excluded from the wedding banquet when the bride groom spoke those same chilling words to them: “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”

Or later in Matthew 25 in the parable of the sheep and the goats being separated at the end of the age, where the Lord says of the ‘goats’:

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Unless the Anglican church has embraced the doctrine of universalism by stealth, what I am pointing out is nothing more than theology 101. Not all shall enter the Kingdom of God. If Jesus is to be believed in Matthew chapter 7, many who think they qualify for the Kingdom, even those who performed miracles in his name, are going to be disappointed.

At the very least this should give all of us cause for a time of deep reflection. This is not about there being a ‘limited atonement’ as you imply, but rather a call to discipleship that we refuse or ignore, or avoid at our peril.

We are at risk of replacing the radical claims of the gospel with a form of “moral therapeutic deism” which offers a form of Godliness but denies its transforming power. What I am pointing out is nothing less than a systemic problem within the Anglican church that cannot be easily overlooked.

One of the questions I have been challenged with in recent years is this: How much can we deny the teaching of Christ, and still claim to be his disciple? Of course, God’s grace extends to all of us, and especially to those who are new in the faith. But for those of us who presume to be teachers, a guide to the blind, a light to the world – how much latitude do we have?

Jonathan said...

Selwyn was where my father did his theological training (late 1930s?). And a late Saturday night walk down Castle Street North is an enjoyable and diverse experience! Jonathan.

Jonathan said...

Oops, if I said Cumberland St North it was meant to be Castle St North!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
What I wrote was,

"I mentioned a particularly striking point within a larger content - focused on what it means for Selwyn to be a college shaped by Christian faith."

Thus the larger point was about what it means for a college residential community to reflect and demonstrate the love of God a love which includes all and excludes no one.

Questions of faithful or feckless virgins in that parable etc were not engaged with and thus I do not see how your critique applies to one particular sermon, a snippet of which I have given. Surely it is unfair to construct what a sermon might have said, should have said etc from a brief report and not from a verbatim recitation of its contents?

That the Anglican church, here and elsewhere, may be beset with incipient universalism, and rightly subject to the critique you bring to bear on it, is not the point at issue.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Jonathan
One of the lovely stories told was of sending skyrockets from a room inside the quad, through the archway (then unencumbered with doors, unlike now) and onto "what was then SH1" (i.e. Castle St North) ... one, however, unaccountably took on a swerve and ended curling its way into the warden's garage and under his car. I think the car was alright but, according to the story, the then warden was apoplectic!

Brendan McNeill said...


I’m glad you had an enjoyable time in Dunedin, and I accept that was the main aspect of your post.

One of the reasons I’m sensitive to the ‘God loves and accepts everyone’ message is that it was explicitly stated in the ‘Time For Love’ video that you published recently. I appreciate that you are not accepting comments on that video, and I mention it only for the sake of context.

I don’t know how often it must be stated in your posts before it becomes a ‘recurring theme’ but this is the second time in recent weeks. I thought it was time for a slight course correction.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Brendan

Anonymous said...

About three times a week, Peter, I reflect on the decline and fall of the social media. And your delightful OP above has me beginning my week with it.

Both 'blogs (contracted from "weblogs") and Twitter began with personal narrative. Sunrise by sunrise, a leading early 'blog was "kept," we used to say, by a man living on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Early tweets were 140 word postcards telling any who were listening--

"Zabar's has in-season rapini! Sauteing in olive oil for an escararolle pie. Excellent flavour. Get some!" or

"In the intermission of Gorecki 3 performed in Dunedin at Selwyn. Amazing student soprano. Orchestra drunk."

One could be far from eg midtown Manhattan or Dunedin and still spot the human stories in them.

As your OP, and some similar ones from Father Ron, remind me, we once thought that such social media would fill our screens with stories like these. We were reading and expected to go on reading about diverse life situations in which we could recognise our human commonalities. Clicking the FOLLOW button on our screens meant that we wanted to hear more about the slice of life behind an online voice. Taking every thought captive for Christ, some of us-- very few of us it now seems-- even imagined that a Christian galaxy in that universe might shine with myriad experiences of life in Christ--

Anonymous said...


"Thanking the Lord for a date last night who was expectedly fascinating and unexpectedly chaste. Possibilities..."

"This morning, a very young local couple I have never met. They want to marry, not until he can afford it. Touching honesty and trust. Neither is baptised. Why me? St Paul's is the oldest building around here, so they think that we must be very wise about life. How humbling."

"She had to be both bull-headed and resourceful to survive childhood cancer, grow up lesbian, get through a tough seminary, get ordained in a notably class-biased diocese, and be among the first women to marry a woman. So, of course she was also one of the first to use reproductive technology to have her eggs fertilised and planted in her spouse. Now, this is not the Way. And perhaps a miscarriage should have been a warning. But one wishes that the Father had not permitted fatal birth defect in the child that was finally born. Then again-- even the short life will have inestimable value to Him, and perhaps learning to be open to the unbidden will soften her temper and heal some wound inflicted long ago. Let us pray..."

"Our adopted son has arrived. Praying for him and for the faraway father and mother who gave him up to our care."

"At the Fraction, suddenly forgave my father for his years of emotional inaccessibility. Jesus does, I can."

"A young woman with green hair glowers through every prayer we say in the soup kitchen. Pray for her. And ask the Spirit to guide our prayers."

"How should I understand Jesus's reference to Abiathar in Mark 2:26?"

"My niece the Pagan wanted us all to do a Solstice ritual at Christmas dinner. My brother said absolutely not. WWJD?"

"Practising the Exsultet for the Easter Vigil. Should I sing about the bees and the wax this year, or not?"

"Another blessing of the hounds for foxhunting in my parish which will not bless my same sex marriage to the Senior Warden's daughter."

"The bishops of our Somali congregation have ordered them not to receive with us, and to move their liturgy to another location. Tears everywhere."

"In prison, I have been in far more danger yet far happier than outside. A few of us are more into the Word here than ever. Can people without jailers understand Acts or Paul at all?"

Anonymous said...


"Brother Amos was working on his roof when his dentures fell out, tumbled down the shingles, and fell into the river below. The youth group heard about this and came over in swim suits and face masks to dive into the stream in search of them. After about an hour and a half of diving, up they came."

"God bless you, Ray Brown! I took your dare: preached Revelation 12, with allusions to the Flight, the Holy Innocents, etc at the Vespers for the Eve of Christmas. Wide-eyed congregation. Questions in the undercroft."

"Jerusalem fell and all Jews had to make choices, the rabbi said. Most groups died out, but two survived. We had majored in the law, replacing the Temple with pious observance, and you had majored in the prophets, replacing the Temple with the Body of Christ. And so here we are."

"One night, I knew that the Resurrection happened in the concrete way that I know that my first ride on a horse happened. From that time on, my only question about it has been-- what did that event mean? This has turned out to be the gift of a hermeneutic, for the Bible makes a different and deeper sense when you read it with that question in mind."

"Spent the whole hour in class trying to get earnest seminarians to understand the difference between God's covenant and a human contract. Some perfectly bright students cannot get their heads around it."

"I am more afraid of free riders on God's mercy than of the frustration of His own desire to save all. But why? If it is a problem, it's God's, not mine. Why does this run me?"

"My best jamming partner is a Muslim. Why would someone who plays such soulful, mellifluous jazz leave Christ? I needed less mush-mouth and more discipline, he said."

"Again and again, I have explained from scripture to my fellow church-members, why (for now) the consequences of a vote for a Republican is worse than the consequences of a vote for a Democrat. And the reply I get is-- our side may be bad, but their side is worse! People are deciding that their deepest commitment is to their hatred of the other political party."

"WHY DOES MY MINISTER, who is half my age, TREAT US LIKE WE ARE ALL STUPID? She is one of those Christianity-is-all-reform-all-the-time types who would put the moon on a different cycle and never saw a sunset she would not change. Confused by seminary? I hope she didn't lose her faith there."

"Ha ha! The Health Inspector who cited our monastery for making cheese in wooden vats did not expect that The Cheese Nun would turn out to be a PhD microbiologist from Institut Pasteur in Paris."

Anonymous said...


"When Christians from suburbs invade/gentrify our inner city neighbourhood, why do they not join the churches already here? Why do suburban churches plant competition for the small, struggling churches already here? Is it their race or their wealth that makes them feel so entitled to disrupt the local Body of Christ?"

"An inconclusive meeting with the bishop's ordination committee. They have endorsed other applicants, but not me. Explanation? None. Advice? None. And anyway, why a COMPETITIVE SELECTION process when the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few? Is there a pastor in this diocese?"

"Love reading Genesis through a poetic yet scientific lens. Genesis 1, evoking the deep time of modern cosmology, makes my heart sing. Genesis 2-- our relation to the vast ecology of the earth. Genesis 3-- consciousness meets mortality."

"I've told my roshi that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When I see the Buddha in the meditation hall, I think of Jesus of Nazareth, not Siddhartha Gautama. But because all the kinds of churches near me go berserk, each in its denominational way, when I say that there MUST be some practice for purifying the heart, I think they're dead. I sit with Him for Buddhist meditation because there is nothing else."

"Our new Chapel of the Dormition for the monastery graveyard will be an octagon, the Resurrection being the eighth day of the Creation. But our Amish carpenter was only taught right angle geometry-- squares, rectangles. But in a dream last night, a Woman of sublime beauty and kindness showed him how to bisect the angles ;-)"

"A relationship to God is three distinct relations to the Father who designs, the Son who knits together, and the Holy Spirit who brings the future into the present. Taking care of all three relations can change us."

"A long, emotional last service with MCC. Ministry as a straight woman with an all-gay, very ecumenical congregation through these tumultuous years has been inspiring past anything I could have imagined when I was ordained..."

"...The obvious weekly challenge for this Presbyterian was to lead worship in a congregation that spanned the whole spectrum from tent-meeting revival to solemn high mass. My liturgical education at the school of hard Knox was mostly about why both were not quite right, so I had a lot to learn fast..."

"...A less obvious but easier one was the amount of time I spent in counseling members about their relationships with non-Christians. How do you practise and explain a cross-shaped love to a non-Christian partner? How do you answer their arguments against the faith in a way that not just reasonable, but invites them to explore it for themselves?"

"Xerophagy-- dry eating, fruits and nuts only-- is the strictest week of the Great Fast, but also the richest in scripture and liturgy. Contemplative overload!"

Anonymous said...

"Met some fellow Christians also eager to get out of the traveling NGO circus that runs from disaster to disaster in search of photo ops for US & EU donations. Seriously thinking of banding together to do good, ethical work in Him."

"Prayed the Jesus Prayer all afternoon. Euphoria and peace. But then it was difficult to find the motivation to fix supper and get on with the evening. They say you need a guide for this sort of prayer, and they may be right."

"So relieved to find a progressive congregation that really believes in God! Not polite liberals with lukewarm faith doing the suburban thing. People who THINK out of the box WITH JESUS."

"Frustrated that my dear colleagues cannot see that the poor need the Father's boring but wise provision of morality far more than their hipster virtue-signaling."

"A classmate who is now a seminary president said something absurd on national television, and that has made her a conservative punching bag here and abroad. We have disagreed for decades-- she probably thinks I am her life-long enemy --but I know her story, and I certainly care more about her than about the blood-sport media circus. Pray that she changes her mind, if you wish, but anyway pray that her soul weathers this storm in Him. And pray for the salvation of all those who persecute others online."

"In Christ, I can do all things. Including, I have discovered, celibacy. Many make do without sex, but few consciously dedicate their energy and freedom to the Lord for as long as that is his will. In retrospect, trying to stay chaste on *authority + will-power* was a rather Pelagian self-deception that the Bible itself warns against."

"A favourite student, after a brilliant Reformed church-plant, was left by his wife, struggled with his own pastoral authority, swam the Tiber, and bid his congregation good bye. He avoided me, until I made him have lunch. He expected my rejection, but I am proud of his integrity through hard circumstances unforeseeable in the classroom."

"Extended illness is so humbling. I have always thought that I was a serious Christian because I had so many churchly projects, and because I had mostly escaped burn out or misplaced belief. But when you are sick, it's just about the state of your soul."

"Put flowers on my husband's grave this morning and cried. He has been dead seven years. But I was not a Christian then, so I am only now realizing that he already knew what a husband is, but I did not know what wife is. So unfair to him."

"Not many tweets left. This may be the last one. I have made many, many mistakes, but God has been gracious from beginning to end."

"Lloyd was a farmer. A real farmer. All he really talked about was what the soil in this county could produce with seasonable weather and wise stewardship. Although he thought more about things than people and cared more about people than ideas, he did get large chunks of the Bible more viscerally than I, his pastor, did. Today, we laid our brother to rest in the Lord."

Those old enough to remember Malcolm Boyd's '60s bestseller Are You Running With Me Jesus?-- the last prayer book to be a NYT Bestseller?-- have an idea of the concreteness and complexity of the experiences that might have been on our screens. But, for the most part, concrete testimony to life lived in Christ has been displaced by public (often civic) argument that imitates the badly polarised comment threads of newspapers. And the more pugilistic comments get, the more rare it is for women's names to appear in the threads. I love the Christian blogs that I follow, especially this one, but we all need to rethink the use that we are making of social media.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman!
Life is for living :)

Sam Anderson said...

Only tenuously related to the original post but, how does an Anglican decide that their title will be 'Father', as in Father Michael Wallace? Is it an official title, or self-styled to indicate churchmanship? Do they call themselves 'The Reverend Father'? Do they use the title 'Reverend' at all? What is on their bishop's licence?

Maybe Ron can help...

Anonymous said...

"Article XLII. All Men Shall Not Be Saved at the Length. They also are worthy of condemnation who endeavor at this time to restore the dangerous opinion that all men, be they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved when they have suffered pains for their sins a certain time appointed by God’s justice."

Stealthily indeed, Brendan. This article was deleted from the Articles of Religion in 1563. The change is associated with Archbishop Matthew Parker and the Convocation of Canterbury, but yes, uncertainty about the exact process remains.

Since at least Origen in the C2, universalists have been reading their Bibles as well as anyone else, and better I daresay than some. So you will already have noticed that this Article against C16 universalists shows that they fully expected sinners to suffer as the NT passages you cite would lead us to expect. Nobody denies this. Down the millennia, the actual disagreements have been over whether that suffering is reparative or retributive, temporary or everlasting. More broadly-- does the God of the Bible as a whole have a character that would value the everlasting torment of conscious beings?; does God succeed in his scripturally announced desire to save all, or is he finally defeated by Satan? Today, I see some with conservative sensibilities letting liberal mush-mouth about luv luv luv drive them to the opposite extreme of celebrating Hell out of sheer grouchy partisan contrariness. Both temperaments want to leave out something essential.

But if you are seriously interested in what evangelical Bible-believing universalists believe today, I would skip Rob Bell and go straight to The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott and the Evangelical Universalist by Robin Parry (aka Gregory MacDonald). It is interesting, but no longer necessary to read the C19-C20 Universalists (eg John Wesley Hanson). If you would rather read a Catholic, then Dare We Hope That All Will Be Saved? by Hans Urs von Balthasar, published in English by conservative Ignatius Press.

Anyway, without Article XLII, the Thirty Nine Articles received the royal assent from Elizabeth I. No Anglican church has restored it. So Anglicans are surely not obliged to believe or teach that all will be saved. Neither have they been obliged to believe or teach against this in the past 455 years.

Meanwhile, Article XXXI (formerly XXX) in defining *hypothetical universalism* does forbid the teaching of a *limited atonement*--

"The offering of Christ made once forever is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone."

This is why Anglicans with a Reformed formation have usually taught a "Four Point Calvinism" of TU_IP rather than the TULIP of eg R. C. Sproul.

As preachers will do, your Archbishop Philip Richardson appears to have been restating Article XXXI in colloquial language. Can we blame an archbishop for teaching one of the 39 Articles to his Anglican flock? I am more inclined to encourage it.


Father Ron Smith said...

" Of course, God’s grace extends to all of us, and especially to those who are new in the faith. But for those of us who presume to be teachers, a guide to the blind, a light to the world – how much latitude do we have?"

- Brendan McNeill -

And, of course, Jesus did mention that there were what he called 'Blind Guides' - those whose vision, perhaps, was hindered by their perception of their own 'holiness'. At least Saint Paul was humble enough to admit that his own righteousness before God was as 'Filthy Rags'.

We who presume to call ourselves teachers are forced to admit that that, of ourselves, we have nothing to offer. The only good we can presume to offer to others is the FACT that God alone is Holy. Our redemption is never gained by any good we have or ever could do, but by the good that Christ has done.

I am mindful at this time of our pilgrimage during Holy Week that, when offering the Church's Sacrament of Reconciliation to others, the priest is bound to ask for the prayers of the penitent in these words: "And pray for ME, a sinner". We, teachers, are the vessels of God's grace, not the Author, nor, certainly, the judge of whom it is directed towards.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

++ Richardson's challenge only relates to half of the reality of life. The question of why water is wet, only becomes of interest when we consider that it is made up of two gases, neither of which, in their natural states are wet.

On Saturday last,our son got married in our garden under a large stretch tent.
He choose the garden, because he wanted to meet his bride in the place,like where God gave Eve to Adam.As Kipling says:"Adam was a gardener,and God who made him,sees half a gardener's proper work is done upon his knees". Charlie Hughes officiated, and to a very mixed gathering posed the opposite challenge to ++Richardson:" At the end of this life,what do we want to be remembered for". My answer to ++Richardson is:"God,while it is rather lovely to have been loved in this life by you;I also want to feel your Love for the rest of Eternity; here is my being,cloth it in Christ's Righteousness so that I may be suitably attired for the Heavenly Marriage".

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Bowman

I appreciate the historical insights, thank you. I’m familiar enough with the supporting arguments for universalism to consider it to be, like a certain other topic, a belief in search of a theology.

Rob Bell was influential with early ‘Numa’ series. I particularly enjoyed his expression of discipleship which he once described as ‘walking in the dust of your rabbi’. I wasn’t aware that he had embraced universalism, but as he now appears to have embraced everything I guess it’s not surprising.

Your question about the possibility of God’s plan to redeem the whole world being thwarted is a good one. Does it all come right in the end, albeit through suffering? And the related question, how could we who are saved enjoy a party in the lounge while some of our friends and relatives are being tortured in the basement?

Space does not permit a discourse on these topics, and the related discussion around annihilationism, but they are excellent questions.

As to the Archbishop, I’m yet to be convinced that a faithful presentation of article XXXI can be rendered without mention of sin and the atonement but I’ll defer to your learning. I remain hopeful that he, along with all Anglican Bishops and clergy will shortly dust off article VII and weave its text into a sermon or two. Now that would be something.

Anonymous said...

"And call no man father for you have only one Father..." St Matthew 23:9

Sam, I was taught that "Father" was the usual title of address for all Christian clergy in England until evangelicals in the C18 began to decline it to comply with the verse above. However, it seems plausible to me that clergy of a Precisionist persuasion might have anticipated this usage much earlier.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
My experience of "Father", "Fr" or being called "Father" is that it is the custom of Anglo-Catholic parishes (and, also, across the Diocese of Polynesia). So, it is less about self-styling (though some of that no doubt occurs) and more about community of faith context.

Father Ron Smith said...

Any theology based on apprehension is hardly redemptive. Whereas a theology that is Cross-shaped and based on unfailing love is redemptive. Praise be to God in Christ!

Of course some suffering may be expected - from us, rather than others. The model - from Christ rather then us sinners. Asd the Body of Christ, we, too, are called to suffer. Christ calls his disciples to take up OUR cross (our particular suffering), not his, which has already served the greater purpose of salvation.

"Only believe and thou shalt see; that Christ is all in all to thee".

Tnoight's Gospel in our SMMA Mass has Jesus saying: "Should I say 'Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this hour that you sent me'" Only Jesus, Son of God could have done this - to free us from the burden of our sin. Praise be to God!

Jean said...

Am I allowed to be a semi-universalist?

Accepting in a literal way that God’s desire is that no one should be lost and that he so loved the world a.k.a. all the world, means I take it that yes he loves all and died to save all. Actually it is the hardest thing to accept when a person who one perceives to have dastardly deeds towards you is completely forgiven by Christ and one is compelled to do likewise.

Yet love can be unrequited. Was it unconditional, well yes on the basis of accepting what Jesus did, if one doesn’t accept it is noted that one stands condemned already for rejecting the only way of salvation. But it is not based on our measure of depravity, for all have sinned and fall short...

It stands then that all were saved but not all may in the free will we are created to have, come to accept that salvation. So my half universalism all are loved with an everlasting love but love isn’t forced and gift has to be accepted.

I take no stab at who will be saved. Knowing stories of people’s encounters and acceptance of Jesus after physical death, and being ‘sent’ back to earth so to speak, I think this is one of the hard unknown’s. And the thought of those we know and love who do not believe - another hard unknown.

Father Ron Smith said...

thank you, Peter. Got it in one! Fatherhood (and motherhood) entails a special responsibility of caring and helping the maturation of those entrusted to our care. It is not meant to be hierarchical but purely pastoral. Interestingly, Evangelical clergy in the military are often quite happy to be called 'padre' - a customary title. There is also the Tradition in Christianity of the Early Church Fathers (and Mothers) those entrusted with pastoral work and teaching in the community.

In Anglican Churches around the world, many people no longer consider the 29 Articles as anything other then historical artifacts - not all of which are now applicable to membership of our Church - and certainly not applicable to any other Christians.

Anonymous said...

"Am I allowed to be a semi-universalist?"

Yes, Jean, Anglicans believe that the extent of the atonement is universal-- which makes us *hypothetical universalists* (eg + Richard Davenant in the C17)-- yet are not of one mind on the extent of salvation. From a rather Reformed perspective, Michael F Bird has an easy survey of the options in his Evangelical Theology.