Lovely article on our new Dean, Lynda Patterson, in our local Christchurch Press this morning.
Here is a taste:
"If the sparkling personality of the Northern Irish farm girl cannot carry her through such controversies, then her ability to see all sides and bring reconciliation to them should do it."
Lynda and I are working on our next jointly authored Lenten study book for 2014, published by Theology House Publications, Being Disciples: Through Lent with Matthew. Available in January. Orders now to Theology House, admin at theologyhouse.ac.nz. $5 per copy if ordered before 20 December, $6 after that, plus postage and packing.
The alliteration is nice (and older people may recall that song from 'Man of La Mancha'), but since when has dreaming called for daring? It's action that calls for courage. Yes, I know there are prophetic dreams in Scripture - but does the modern church have the same faith and the same God as a Joseph or a Daniel?
How does the indifference of most New Zealanders to Christianity affect the Church of Christ? Is being a Christian something that will enhance your life - or save you from hell? Do liberal catholics believe people are lost without Christ, even if their material lives are comfortable enough (until old age and disease irrevocably kick in)?
" does the modern church have the same faith and the same God as a Joseph or a Daniel?" - Martin -
This begs the Question: "How is an individual person to judge whether 'the modern Church has the same faith and the same God as a Joseph or a Daniel?" Surely that is a faith credential that is experienced and known only to the person involved.
It is just such broad sweeps of judgement that many of us have real difficulty with. Faith, though it can be shared, is also fundamental to each person - not necessarily a 'group' faculty.
I would not presume to judge another person's articles of faith
"This begs the Question: "How is an individual person to judge whether 'the modern Church has the same faith and the same God as a Joseph or a Daniel?" Surely that is a faith credential that is experienced and known only to the person involved"
I have no idea what 'a faith credential' is, but in principle my question was straightforward and not impossibly agnostic. It meant: do we believe the same things about 'God' as the biblical figures and do we believe and trust in the same way?
My conclusion is that significant parts of Anglicanism would have to answer no to these questions: that they understand 'God' differently and their hopes are different.
Much of western Anglicanism is etiolated and passionless, and holds no appeal to those outside the church, who perceive Christianity as basically a cultural activity or a friendship network and not about salvation. Western Anglicanism connives in this because - with a few vulgar exceptions like Sydney - it would be deeply embarrassed to preach that men and women are lost without Christ. Its primary interest is in being loved and accepted by the host society.
"Much of western Anglicanism is etiolated and passionless, and holds no appeal to those outside the church, who perceive Christianity as basically a cultural activity or a friendship network and not about salvation." - Commenter -
I can't see how 'outsiders' would see the contemporary Church as 'not about salvation' - when they probably do not know what 'salvation' is, anyway.
I think the outside world needs to see and experience something of god's love and acceptance of them before they can ever know what salvation really is. Where the Church shows only condemnation, they may never both to enter it.
Furthermore, when 'members' of the Church become critical of others in the Church, this surely puts people off - especially where the 'holier than thou' principle is involved.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!
"I think the outside world needs to see and experience something of god's love and acceptance of them before they can ever know what salvation really is."
But this misses the point that modern liberalism proclaims that "god" (a vague and undefined entity, cut loose from the biblical understanding by 200+ years of Kantian philosophy) "accepts" and "loves" everyone, no response is needed, and no hell awaits you on the other side (if indeed there is any afterlife - Katherine Schori seems very doubtful on this, as does Spong). In other words, modern western Anglicanism is simply a liberal ethical improvement society, and isn't about transcendence and the conquest of death. How very different from C. S. Lewis!
Martin, I no longer believe in the 'fires of Hell' that you so obviously relish the prospect of for those who do not measure up.
I now understand Hell as experience of the absence of God - having known the Love of God in this world, then to reject it, might be the equivalent of what you see as Hell.
"western Anglicanism is simply a liberal ethical improvement society, and isn't about transcendence and the conquest of death."
What a devastating and ungenerous statement this turns out to be! Accompanied, I see, by more denigratiuon of TEC's Presiding Bishop. No wonder outsiders have no patience with a Church at war within itself.
This judgement of a whole sector of the Body of Christ deserves to be held in contempt for what it is
It is not denigration to report the public views of a theologian or church leader.
Nor is it denigration of a whole sector of the church to offer a view of what it appears to be in reality.
Martin is remiss, however, in not providing a link to support his view of various bishops' views.
Oh really, do I have to do other people's homework for them? This isn't 'my view', it's their own words:
You can find Schori's views very easily by googling. Readers are remiss for not bothering to find this stuff as easily as I can.
As for hell as the absence of God, that is exactly what it is. St Clive of Oxford wrote a speculative romance on the subject, 'The Great Divorce'.
What I can't understand is people who take words like 'This is my body' literally but not 'Be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell' (Matthew 10.28). This selective biblical fundamentalism is worryingly reminiscent of groups like Westboro Baptist Church.
A pity this thread has moved from its main star attraction - Lynda P! But that said, I have to agree with Martin, Ron, that a real problem has been bequeathed us western Christians. The 19th C witnessed a reductionist view that equated the Christian Faith with ethics - that is a piece of historical reality. Thereafter, with increasing secularization, any sense of the transcendent was increasingly dismissed. The end result is as Kant envisaged: practical reason’s own invention of (self) worth. This too is part of historical reality.
Now; in this context, proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus is far, far more than what you have constantly presented it as being on this site. For in what does “love” now actually consist? This is no idle question. What forms of behaviour are loving and what forms not is no longer a self-evident matter. While we may be able to agree on some forms as being loving and certain others as not loving, there remains an entire ocean of views that are not just murky or ‘grey’ areas, but are resolutely irresolvable under the criteria most westerners are seemingly obliged to function with.
And this is where the business of Articles of Faith enter the discussion. You are surely right to say one’s faith is one’s own; this happens to be both a NT concern and a Reformation one. But what is also of concern is that one’s faith has as its true Object not a fanciful construction. And here we may truly and sincerely and surely turn to the Scriptures with a view to allowing them to grant us genuine Articles of Faith. For example, 1 Cor 15:1-5 is a compressed form of the sort of thing the Church has held forth as being the basis of its own proclamation. And when it does so, it also knows there will be times when its listeners will scoff at its presentation (Acts 17's Areopagus story is suitably double-edged!). There will also be times when the Church itself will be called to account. I take it you are in agreement with the Barmen Declaration for example; and also probably in agreement with the reinvention of that Confession during the days of apartheid South Africa via the Belhar Confession. But these are just contemporary Articles of Faith, written for specific contexts! But also translatable across contexts; otherwise Barmen could not have become Belhar!
Back to the main lead: and knowing Lynda Patterson just a little, I am sure she would be more than happy with all that I’ve just said! Although perhaps she would be more winsome in her appeal towards you, Ron ... Happy Christ the King, matey!
A recent view of Easter by ++Jefferts Schori is here, http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/03/19/presiding-bishops-easter-message-2013/
It does not quite affirm what Martin says about her views; but it is not exactly a resounding affirmation of resurrection meaning life with God beyond the grave.
I should add I have nothing against liberal ethical improvement societies, either. In fact I have supported such aims throughout my life, encouraging music, sport and humanistic education, and giving free lessons in classical and modern languages. Such institutions greatly enhance the social capital of our communities.
But that isn't the raison d'etre of the Church. To paraphrase St Clive again, Christianity is either supremely important or not at all. It can't be 'relatively' important. But the loss of transcendence in liberal Protestantism (along with the loss of uniqueness - Schori is very clear on rejecting this) means it can only be relatively useful, in subserving some other, humanistic goal.
But that great Anglican Catholic Eric Mascall correctly discerned this many years ago.
No surprise to me, Bryden, that you should agree with Martin. You are of the same household of faith, which happens to be somewhat distant from the place I call Home.
Watching you learned evangelical theologians slug it out - on mostly adiaphoral matters - makes me glad that my faith is simple. I know Jesus Christ as Redeemer, Friend and Brother, and nothing can take Him from me - not even a flurry of didactic and silver-tongued theologians.
Pax et Bonum!
Jesu marcy, Mary, pray!
It is not adiaphoral matters if church leaders are denying life after death or the uniqueness of Christ as the way to God.
It is precisely the theological matters being slugged out here which enable all of us to share your faith in "Jesus Christ as Redeemer, Friend and Brother".
Might you be grateful for the work of your brothers in theological arms who labour night and day so that "nothing can take Him from" you, not even the heresies of some people who should know better?
Amine, Peter, re your last!
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