Thursday, July 31, 2008

From inside the camp

Bishop Nick Baines (of Croyden within the Diocese of Southwark) is someone I had not heard of before Lambeth. But he can write! As demonstrated in his guest blogs on the Fulcrum site. Given my postings on ++Rowan and Chief Rabbi Sacks' addresses, these reports from Nick of reactions, along with some reflections of his own, are valuable:

"It was interesting that people responded differently to Rowan's interim address last night. Some I spoke with today thought he had polarised the positions, whereas others think he articulated clearly positions at the ends of the spectrum of responses to the presenting issues. It was also noted that his address followed video of the horrors of Burma and the slaughter of thousands of people. It makes polite and nitpicking debates about sex seem ridiculous.

It is good, then, that the Indaba Groups seem to have taken seriously Jonathan Sacks' call for a 'covenant of fate' to be considered by the Communion at this time - on the grounds that in the same way as the Church does not exist for the sake of the Church, but for the sake of the world for which it must give its life, so the Anglican Communion must be strengthened not for the sake of its internal happiness or purity, but for the sake of a world full of death.

Various proposals are emerging from these thoughtful conversations. There can be no quick fix when it comes to sexuality debates (that would be like thinking you could solve world poverty by having a march and making a statement) - the next decade could be used for education and information and learning through the sharing of experience as it has happened here at Lambeth. This came from an African conservative.

Another African called for an end to what he described as 'ecclesiastical Mugabes' - a new way of exercising leadership and authority in African churches.

A westerner observed that when we want to make big decisions we want to be Roman Catholics; but when we want to make little decisions we want to be Protestants. But we are Anglicans!

All of this reminded me of the lectures by Professor Nicholas Boyle (Oxford University) to the Church of England bishops earlier this year. He observed that nations try to justify who and what they are by appealing to their history. But we should be identifying ourselves by what we want to become. This has something to say to the Anglican Communion and the way we do our business together for the sake of God's world."

There are indeed no quick fixes. I myself will be working on patience as the conclusions to the Conference come out. In another part of the same post by Bishop Nick Baines he offers this reflection on patience:

"This morning's Bible Study focused on John 11:1-44. Much could be written, but the point that took my mind off into a place of deeper reflection was that of 'time' again. This passage (the dying and later raising of Lazarus) is enigmatic, to say the least. Jesus delays going to his sick friend, eventually hears that he has died, then decides to go, then has a good cry before raising Lazarus. Having been told, Jesus waits a 'further two days'. This brought to mind something I have written about elsewhere ('Scandal of Grace: the danger of following Jesus', St Andrew Press, 2008): the inability many of us have to wait and let things take their course."

God is faithful. We are called to be faithful!


Anonymous said...

Ah, but 'things have taken their course', as this response to John Richardson's post on the differences between Tec and the Chruch of England illustrate:

- a long and depressing list of increasingly bizarre innovations in 'worship' that seem to have been concocted out of a potted course in Otto, Jung and Robert Pirsig - very cool on the Left Coast and in Greenwich Village, no doubt, but little to do with the faith once delivered by Cranmer, Jewel, Hooker et al. It started with Pike, graduated to Spong, and is producing weird and not especially wonderful fruit. 'Little children, keep yourselves from idols.'

The comments in response linked on 'Stand Firm' are very illuminating. Consider (from details supplied by the commenters)how Nashotah House (and, I would imagine, Trinity Ambridge) treat the question of Anglican identity compared to the other Tec seminaries, where there is really little interest or knowledge of classical theology or hermeneutics.
How different is it in NZ? Where are NZ Anglicans, theologically speaking? Mid-Atlantic? Drifting?
Forgive my presumption, but herein, I think, is a challenge for your theological education and ministerial training:
- work out the best and most faithful kind of hermeneutics (including a sound bibliology)
- study the Church Fathers, especailly the apologists and the Cappadocians
- tap into the deep roots of classical Anglican understanding of the Church and its ministry. Don't fall for the theological version of Last Thursdayism!

Peter Carrell said...

Oh, Anonymous, we are definitely South Pacific, rather than mid-Atlantic!
But your advice is helpful!
We do not pay much attention to the Fathers so that is something to remedy ... after we have tackled Hooker!

Anonymous said...

Peter, here's a free resource (though they would appreciate donations!) from Covenant Seminary - lots of mp3's on early church history and a host of other topics to listen to on a dark winter's evening (OK, I know the sun always shines in Nelson):

I learnt a lot from Gerald Bray's take on the late classical/patristic period.

Ashley Null, I believe, is excellent on Cranmer and others.