Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent grinches?

We could spend Advent anticipating the coming of Christ to be born our Saviour and the second coming of Christ to be our judge. Or we could ditch that and read the Gospel of St Marcus as true light enlightening the world. Or maybe not. Borg seems to have stolen the Advent spirit and hidden it in a pile of progressive platitudes.

This week we could spend the period of mourning for Nelson Mandela celebrating his Christ-likeness, or we could do a slash-and-burn-his-legacy grizzle about how he was a dupe of global capitalism. Thanks John Pilger for worrying about the role of capitalism in improving life in South Africa. I had never realised that socialism was a well proven alternative. With a sterling record of socialistic success on the African continent, how could I have missed that obvious fact!

Advent is a potentially a time for quiet reflection (e.g. for people who do not send Christmas cards, buy Christmas presents and attend break ups, prize givings and carol services). We could do better than the above pieces by reading this thoughtful (but long) piece on Jesus the Theological Educator. A nice thought, says this theological educator :)

Since penning the above paragraph in draft, I note a superb evaluation of the Pilling Report by Andrew Goddard at ACI: sobering! His title, Divisions Deepen in Pilling, reminds us that this attempt to hold the C of E together may actually hasten its separation into two or more churches.

I also note a lovely summary and friendly promotion by Joel Willitts of a new IVP book by no less than Andrew Louth, Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology.

If nevertheless you are lost for something to read about Christianity there are always the words of Jesus himself! In preparation for a soon to come post on the importance of the Bible for Anglican authority, take a few moments to read John 12:44-50 [NIV (2011)]:

"44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”"


Michael Reddell said...

Can't help feeling that there is an appropriate middle path between the adulation of Peter Oborne and the views of John Pilger. Of course, the latter is not the only critical voice - try, for example, Sarah Ruden in Standpoint a few years back.

Perhaps after the immediate mourning is past there will be time for more considered reflection on just how much difference Mandela made - was he, for example, more of a powerful symbol than the instrument of change? The secular world looks for those it can gush over. Christians should have more perspective than evident in, say, the Advent sermon on Rahab I heard yesterday that ended up devoted largely to Nelson Mandela, diminishing both the season and the ancestor of our Saviour.

Peter Carrell said...

Excellent points, Michael.

Perhaps in Mandala's case 'powerful symbol' was an 'instrument of change'? Pilger looks for more change than the symbol provided, but he is the glass half empty man!

carl jacobs said...

what we urgently need are facilitated conversations that focus on the reality of our deep-rooted divisions on doctrine and the need to discern what differentiated church structures should be created in response to this reality.

This will never happen. Revisionists will never tolerate a structure in which conservatives would be separated, and for two practical reasons.

1. The revisionists covet conservative money. Liberal churches are not exactly overflowing with laity. There just aren't enough people who want a religious veneer slapped over a worldview of metaphysical doubt and their own presumed goodness. So long as conservatives stay within the church, revisionsist will want the flow of finances to continue.

2. Liberal religion spectacularly fails the Gamaliel test. It has a plethora of would-be leaders but no followers. So if you set up a paralell structure, the wrong side would win. For all its bluster, liberal religion doesn't have the courage of its convictions. It doesn't know how to propagate itself.

The conservatives can stay if they have no influence in the church, and no presence in leadership. (This is called 'diversity' doncha know.) Or they can be driven into the wilderness as a demonstration of their illegitimacy. But they cannot be given any opportunity to prosper.

There will be differentiation and separate structure, but it won't be within the CoE. It will occur outside the CoE and leave Windsor isolated from its own communion. The CoE will take up its orbit around TEC, to which it plighted its troth long ago.


Father Ron Smith said...

Didn't you just love the picture in this morning's 'Christchurch Press' that showed a photograph of the Madonna and Child in the Crib - but in the form of Momma and Baby Bear? What sort of image is this giving to children about the Incarnation of Jesus? And in a Baptist Church, too!

Maybe I'm a Grinch, do you think?

Peter Carrell said...

I missed that Ron, so I shall get back to it. The Press being important for other matters such as cricket scores and cartoons!