Sunday, January 23, 2011

God's Word for Today

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
St. Paul writing to the Corinthians (First Letter, 1:10)


Brother David said...

Of course you are taking this a bit out of the context in that the local Corinthian assembly was divided into followers of various leaders. That is different from being divided over theological issues. But since we are discussing divisions, it is the conservatives who have divided themselves off from the rest of us. We have not divided ourselves from anyone. It is they who refuse to be "in communion," to attend meetings, etc.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

The devil's advocate responds:

Peter, surely you understand the need to place what Paul was writing in its proper historical context, thereby seeing that what he wrote way back then does not apply in the same way today. So Paul's appeal that "there be no divisions among you" and that all Christians should be "united in the same mind and purpose" just doesn't have relevance for us today the way it did to Paul's original audience. Our context is a completely different one, and it is the experiences we have within that different context that give us the authority to pursue paths that contravene Paul's exhortation. So while it's nice to hear Paul's call for unity read in a church service, the Holy Spirit is leading some of us on a path of necessary division for the sake of justice.


liturgy said...

Yes - you need the fuller context:

11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.
12 What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Kiwi Anglican Evangelicalism” or “I belong to Sydney ESOTS” or “I belong to ACNA” or “I belong to the Anglican Ordinariate.”

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David and Bryan

Interesting how your posts dovetail with one another :)

Being drawn from the RCL I would hope attending and non-attending primates read, if not preached on that reading today!

I would not be at all clear that the divisions in Corinth were not theological.

Do you ever ask, David, if the conservatives have 'divided themselves from the rest of us' because 'the rest of us' have provided reasonable cause for doing so? Such reasonable cause could include not listening to them, saying one thing to them and doing another, and persisting in advancing a theological cause knowing that it is going to be divisive but hoping the conservatives blink first.

Brother David said...

So Peter, you wish to have your cake and eat it too.

You throw this do not be divided admonition from St Paul at us and when I point out that we have not divided ourselves from anyone you then counter that perhaps those who have divided themselves had good reason. Perhaps there were good reasons in Corinth as well! We cannot know, the story is incomplete in that aspect, just as we cannot know if they were for theological differences. However, even though we do not know why there was division, perhaps Paul knew the reasons and per chance in spite of there being good reason admonished unity all the same.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I really must get a copy of the NSRV which you use. I miss out on all those interesting verses you know about which my older edition does not have :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
I personally would find it easier to imagine that a new Anglican unity could emerge if all sides to present divisions engaged with their respective contributions to those divisions. Proposing that only one side needs to reconsider their position is not a helpful way forward to that new Anglican unity. Indeed such proposals appear to cement into place that no such unity will emerge.

Andy S said...

I have children - it is hard to inculcate in them the Christian faith with all the anti-Christian propaganda they are exposed to.

Therefore I ask do I have the the "same mind and the same purpose" as the people responsible for this.

And if I say I don't, am I being divisive.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Al.
You are always welcome back.
You never know, the marasma (which I see means 'chaos') might mutate to something simpler, purer, and truer to the vision of Cranmer et al (and Al)!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andy S,
In that particular case you are certainly not being divisive. Whether the billboardists are contributing to unity is a moot point!

liturgy said...

Peter, with all due respect, rather than encourage “Wake-up-and-smell-the-Zyklon B” Al M, I wonder if you would consider, as your moderation policy in my reading of it appears to suggest, keeping this place safe for difference to be expressed with respect by asking people who comment to comment on the thread and not, in his toxic, trolling manner, on the individuals. Nothing that Al M states in his comment about me can be drawn from anything I have said in this thread. If I have said anything that leads to his conclusions elsewhere I would ask you to insist that he contributes his response in the place I said it, again addressing the issue rather than mocking the persons as your moderation policy states.

Your allowing his comment through not to mention your encouragement appears as an alteration to or abandonment of your moderation policy.

Thank you


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, division (Schism) only occurs when someone actually walks away and breaks an existing community. The break occurred when certain dissenting Primates absented themselves from Lambeth, setting up their own quasi-Anglican Communion at GAFCON & Jerusalem.

How does that relate to your comment provided in 'God's word for today'?

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Al M, Bosco Peters and others,

In a comment above Bosco questions my posting a comment from Al M. In fairness to Bosco and David who are mentioned in the comment, and in an attempt to have a moderation policy with integrity and consistency of application, I have reviewed my posting of that comment.

My decision is to remove the comment and to post an edited version of it. My reason for doing so is that, despite a lot of content relevant to various matters raised here and in other posts of which Al M has been a longtime reader and frequent commenter, there is a strong ad hominem element woven into what is said.

I stand by my welcome to Al M to remain a reader and a commenter. But the moderation policy always applies. The application of the policy is always open to improvement on my part: I am learning as I go.

Peter Carrell said...

Edited comment from Al M as posted at 8.16 pm last night, Sunday 23 January, 2011: words between scare marks are unchanged; words between square brackets are my words

"The futile exchanges here illustrate why I no longer contribute my 2 cents' worth."

[Moderator's note: I am understanding 'here' to mean the site and not just this thread; and 'futile exchanges' to relate to posts on the specific topic of the Anglican Communion].

[Moderator: Al M offers as examples two lines of commenting. One assessed as an expression of Neo-Montanism in which admiration for homosexuality is professed. A point is made that such admiration was well known in the ancient pagan world but is not known in the Bible and in Christianity. The other is assessed as a misunderstanding of Catholicism and Anglicanism as an expression of Western Catholicism. From a moderation perspective one problem in what is said here is that it involves too much attribution of what the named people would have, might have said, and not a simple focus on issues raised, untrammelled by presumption about the persons raising those issues].

"Peter, you're a good man and I agree with you in the core of what you profess. Whether Western Anglicanism can survive its cultural and spiritual marasma, I don't know, but I wish you well in your Sisyphean task.
Ave atque vale,
Al M."

January 23, 2011 8:16 PM

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,

St Paul's words are a challenge to all Christians at all times as we work out being the human (i.e. frail, fraught, fragmented and fragmenting) body of Christ on earth.

In the particular case of the Anglican Communion these words challenge both those choosing not to attend Communion meetings and those choosing to attend. Is the non-attendance faithful to God's Word? (It could be, as the same written Word offers guidance re non-association with false teachers, and that might take precedence over appeals for unity). Have those attending been faithful to God's Word? (They might not have been. Indeed some may have denied or set aside God's Word in a serious dereliction of duty as teachers).

It is possible that those attending the Primates Meeting have offended those not attending in such a manner that repentance and not complacency is called for.

In short, the published words stand as a potential challenge to all sides in the Communion today, and not just to one side.

Suem said...

I agree that this scripture has not been presented in context. It should not be seen as an injunction to be clones, or not to raise issues or speak out against injustice. This is a reminder that we should not let petty squabbles divide us and never forget that the heart of all we do is to follow Christ and to spread his gospel of salvation.

But it is a good scripture for the present time, we are in danger of forgetting it and thinking and acting as if our faith revolves around contentions over same sex unions or having a covenant!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I don't think this verse applies to either of the two sides at war in the Anglican Communion for their respective gospels.

So the revisionist activists are correct -- folks have left their various groupings.

Obviously, I don't think their departure is at all a violation of the text in question -- and all of us know why that is as well.

It's just a natural thing -- and a good thing too -- for people who disagree foundationally about goals and values and foundational worldviews to not be in the same organization. In fact, it is physically impossible -- eventually -- for two such groups to remain within the same organization.

We'll see -- as I've predicted over the years -- this all shaking out with that principle in mind in the coming years, just as we've seen a predictable escalation of that principle in the past few months.

But regardless, I think the application of this particular passage is unfair to both parties as it is inapplicable.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem and Sarah,
Interesting rejoinders!
I think it is a very good text to cite at this point in the life of the Communion and of the Roman Catholic's attempt to gain a slice of the action and of a whole lotta other stuff going on:

why is God's church on earth disunited?

why are we settling for separate organisations because of separating points of principled disagreement (isn't the great principle one Christ, one gospel, one church)?

and, in context, is not this citation as applicable to petty squabbles (different groups at Corinth may have had trivial personality differences) as to major issues (the whole Corinthian correspondence tackles some major theological issues, as well as matters of praxis)?

Anonymous said...

OK, one last remark from me, then I'll shut up. 'Ich kämpfe mit offenem Visier', as they say in the land of Dichter und Denker. My words are direct and uncomfortable but I don't think they are "toxic and trolling", and I do not think I have indulged in ad hominem remarks. Ad hominem means an attack on a person's character - but I have never referred to anyone here as "slobbering on the keyboard" or described Sarah's comments as "invective". Who was it said of me "You have to reach for a HazMat suit"? That amused me
(almost as good as Zyklon B! - which was also misunderstood on this blog too - I was referring in context to the "toxic" - that word again! - effect of Tec teaching that have decimated that church, and the hope that Ephraim Radner et al would graps this - which I think they have now, albeit bealtedly), but then I'm made of robust stuff. ;) However,if you read carefully you'll see I have been focused on arguments not personalities, and if someone doesn't like the description of his views as Neo-Montanist, he should explain how the claim to be specially led by the Holy Spirit, contra the rest of the Church, is different. I have said exactly the same about certain charismatics today.
Similarly, there was nothing ad hominem in my comments about western Catholicism and a critique of canonical legalism as a poor substitute for sacramental and doctrinal unity - which Anglicanism manifestly no longer has, even with itself. That was my point. What I strive to do is to get people to see the logical endpoint of their arguments or to investigate their basis. If people consider this 'ad hominem', I think we must have taken different courses in logic - or Latin - or both. A quote from Schiller comes to mind but that would indeed be ad hominem.
Now I will keep my Trappist vow.
Charis kai eirene,

Anonymous said...

RE: "I think it is a very good text to cite at this point in the life of the Communion . . . "

Hmmm . . . well, okay. I guess we just disagree.

RE: "... and of the Roman Catholic's attempt to gain a slice of the action . . . "

Not sure what this means unless it's the RC church's very appropriate and gracious creation of a separate structure for AngloCatholics. I think it was an outstanding and hospitable move on their part, and obviously if the COE had wished to keep the AngloCatholic's in question they could certainly have done something similar. Ah well, one organization's leavings is another's treasure!

RE: "why is God's church on earth disunited?"

I don't particularly think that distinctive organizations are a sign of disunity.

RE: " . . . why are we settling for separate organisations because of separating points of principled disagreement (isn't the great principle one Christ, one gospel, one church)?"

Right -- but in one of the two cases of disagreement that you've mentioned specifically the parties in question don't believe or promote the same gospel. Hence -- ultimately -- the separate organizations.

RE: ". . . and, in context, is not this citation as applicable to petty squabbles (different groups at Corinth may have had trivial personality differences) as to major issues (the whole Corinthian correspondence tackles some major theological issues, as well as matters of praxis)?"

I agree that the passage in question applies to both types of disagreements among those who believe the Christian Gospel.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Al (and other commenters),

I get your arguments on the issues of neo-Montanism and real Catholicism. To the extent that your remarks engage with those issues, they are robust, succinct, and provocative of further discussion.

But to give two 'for instances' as a guide to how moderation will seek to work better here re 'ad hominem' elements within comments otherwise engaging with issues:

(a) to write something like, 'I'm only surprised that XYZ didn't go on, in the manner of his much admired Bishop Jack Spong, to opine that in any case ...' is an 'ad hominem' remark because it imputes specific views to XYZ which may not be held by XYZ even though held by Spong.

(b) stating that 'XYZ also gives the impression that he would like to see ...' is also an ad hominem remark not only because it imputes a view to XYZ which may not be held, but also because it focuses attention on XYZ and his ability at giving impressions and not on an issue or question.

I acknowledge that you have reminded my of some comments I have permitted which involve descriptive language of commenters which is inconsistent with my moderation aims and goals. I will try to be better at vigilance in future.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sarah,
If there are two gospels at work in the Communion (and I tend to think there are) then I agree that unity is impossible unless one of those gospels gives way to the other. On such a matter I naturally seek to be on the side of the angels!

Bryden Black said...

Mmmm ...
Am I glad I did not read these comments before preparing my sermon or delivering it (naturally, re the time-frame, I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet!): not much help here from most of them!

Far more helpful were the likes of Gordon Fee and Tony Thiselton - not forgetting old faithfuls like Barrett, Lightfoot, and Calvin, plus Judith Kovacs’ lovely edited work on “Early Christian Commentators” in the Church’s Bible Series.

As for “context”: first we have chs 1-4, based on the classic rabbinical genre, focussing on the central reality of the Cross - which gets scant comment by the posts. Yet, any partisan politicking resulting in such quarrels as Chloe’s associates report, simply fails to grasp the meaning of the Cross of Christ - “period”! Then there’s that overall context, so beautifully drawn out by Karl Barth in his commentary, of the eschatological, towards which the argument of the Letter as a whole drives - viz. 1 Cor 15 (and cf. Thomas Gillespie). And lastly - which was my own starting position - there’s the basic question that runs throughout the entire Corinthian correspondence: what does true spiritual wisdom look like? What’s authentic spirituality? what, finally, makes any human tick spiritually? Not much that touched base here from (m)any of the posts ... On the contrary, some rather scary similarities with the basic problems of the dear old Corinthian Christians - young in mind/spirit, immature, relying on false forms of ‘spirit’, far too accommodating of the world’s spirit ... though fortunately some lines of argument get close (thanks Sarah). And yes Peter: there ARE two 'gospels' at work nowadays ... at least two sadly.

With all this in mind - sorry Peter; but I’ll stick with some of my cited friends rather than spend some of my day off reading blogger comments in future ... Ciao baby!

Anonymous said...

RE: "I acknowledge that you have reminded my of some comments I have permitted which involve descriptive language of commenters which is inconsistent with my moderation aims and goals. I will try to be better at vigilance in future."

Just to be clear -- and since he used a comment about me as an example -- I make no complaint about any comments that have been made about me, nor do I want you to have to constantly be deleting comments in keeping with some kind of moderating standard that others have [of course, *your* standard is your business!] I am not sure why people are particularly concerned either way about how you choose to moderate comments. I am just fine with your letting any negative comments about me personally stand -- I'm always up for a chuckle, and I think they serve as nice public examples, too.

RE: "then I agree . . . "

[heavy sigh]

How depressing. I guess . . . I won't be able to go back and forth with you in the comments, and my evening is ruined! ; > )


Peter Carrell said...

For the sake of the cross (thank you Bryden for profound and pertinent pointing to the cross re Corinthian's most important context!) some evenings (pace Sarah) will be ruined! :)

Father Ron Smith said...

"(It could be, as the same written Word offers guidance re non-association with false teachers, and that might take precedence over appeals for unity)" - P.C. -

I guess it all depends on who you think are the 'false teachers' - depending perhaps on which century of the enlightenment you inhabit.
(I hope B.B. enjoys his time off from looking in on web-sites.)

Anonymous said...

I could not tell if Bryden Black is being ironic, sarcastic, obtuse in not understanding how a blog works, or patronizing. I do not understand why he omitted Witherington, Wright, Garland, Blomberg, Morris, Hays, Fitzmyer, Alister McGrath, and J. I. Packer, and others from his list. There was nothing in the original posting that suggested that this was an exercise in exegesis and preaching preparation assistance. (If Bryden Black is looking for help in blogs for his preaching preparation there are other very good places that I could recommend for him.) In fact there was nothing actually indicating what the focus of the post’s quote was. And it was posted far too late (early Sunday morning for most) for preachers to reasonably incorporate it into their sermons. So, Peter, don’t be discouraged. You are doing a great job. Ignore irregular visitors who put down the quality of the discussion here and please keep up your good work.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison,
Thanks for your encouragement!

I took Bryden (an occasional commenter, yes; but a friend, colleague, and theological mentor - to declare some bias) to be saying that if he had come across this thread before preparing his Sunday sermon then he might not have found the comments much help; more helpful those he cited, also helpful (I suggest) those you add to the mix ... but, more importantly, I interpreted him to be proposing a theological interpretation of the passage against the grain of many comments here. With that interpretation I agree: the passage may not be simply set aside as out of context, irrelevant etc: it is part of a great Pauline thrust towards true spiritual wisdom being found in Christ, crucified and risen, the true and one body of Christ, badly attested by a fragmented organisational church in the world ...

Bryden Black said...

Hi Ali!

To be sure; 6 of your 8 have given me added grist for ‘reading’ 1 Cor down the years. My own list was ne’er exhaustive. But thanks all the same.

Peter has the better “interpretative” handle on my post by far! For he echoes a voice, if we were bothered to hear it, that might just have awesome weight to bear upon ... But then the canonical Scriptures are rarely irrelevant/out of context/whatever ...!

Anonymous said...

Here, tragically, is another "logical endpoint of some people's arguments":