Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Can the Body of Christ flourish on the table of controversy?

Whatever we make of the Philip North controversy in the CofE, it is spawning some deep reflections about the nature of the church and of the Anglican church in particular.

Here are two quite different reflections ...

That the deeper difficulty with Philip North's ministry is that he really believes what he believes and it is not particularly modernist!

That human flourishing in the church means we long for each other's theology to change and the question is whether the Anglican church to which we belong permits the conversation with each other to continue.


Andrei said...

Controversy has always been part of Church life - 1st century Christian controversies among the Apostles themselves are recorded in the New Testament itself e.g. Galatians 2:11–14:11

Nothing new here

This particular controversy involves the post modern, post Christian heresy that seeks to deny the obvious truth "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them"

We could discuss the theological aspects of the reasons this Bishop hold the views he does which are Trinitarian and ecclesiastical in nature - the Church being the Bride of Christ symbolism

Or we could note as an observation that the demographic least likely to involve themselves in the life of the Church are testosterone fueled young men whose only real way of relating with the archetypical female Anglican vicar might be to clean their spouting trim their hedges or change a flat tyre on their car

I have a strong suspicion that the Western World is at war with God and Nature and this is leading to the demise of the Christian Faith in the West and probably the West itself

Andrei said...

For another controversy (apologies if this is a threadjack)

Watch this video (hopefully the English subtitles will display automatically for you)

How does this make you feel?

Now the reporting

Rosemary Behan said...

Andrei .. amen

BrianR said...

Andrei, that's pretty sad. Let's all offer a prayer today that Ruslan Solokovsky will find the Lord Jesus Christ.

As well as understand the significance of the place he wandered around in playing a stupid game.

Father Ron said...

Your deeply rhetorical question, Peter, about whether Christ's Church can flourish on the table of controversy can have only one true response: This has been the situation ever since the Body of Christ was offered on the Cross for the redemption of the world. Controversy even flourished while Jesus was still alive, and many of the controversial arguments are still going on even today.

Take the veracity of the scriptures. Your very next post brings into doubt the truth of Jesus' encounter with the 'Woman caught in adultery' - and that's merely controversy about the written accounts of the life of Christ.

Another such controversy still exists about whether or not the body and blood of Christ are 'truly present' at the Eucharistic Table. And yet, Christ still nurtures the believers with the virtue of His Presence thereupon.

I guess God is much bigger than our human speculation about God - At least I hope so. Otherwise, what would be the point of our continuing to believe?

MichaelA said...

Thanks for the linked articles, Peter.

I am sure the first one is correct in saying that the hounding out of Philip North was more than just over the immediate issue of women's ordination. That is hardly surprising - liberal is based on the writings o fits prophets, Robinson, Pike, Spong etc, and their theology differed from that of traditional Christian theology in many, many ways. Ordination of women and ordination of practicing homosexuals are really just touchstone issues.

The second article is confused - it appear that the author is trying to have a bet each way. Does she believe that Philip North should have been forced out of office or not? She appears to say both yea and nay at different points in the article. In that respect, she distinctly resembles the Archbishop of Canterbury. He would like the conservative evangelicals to toe the line or get out, he fears the political power of the liberals, but but he wants the evangelicals' congregations, ie their money.

In the end, only one solution is possible. Either those that believe in the 2000 year old teaching of the church that only men can be ordained clergy are permitted to have their say and teach as they like, or they are not. The debacle over +North indicates that they are not permitted to teach what they believe anywhere in the Church of England.

carl jacobs said...

It's been interesting to watch this event unfold. Some Liberals are wringing their hands over the illiberal actions of their liberal colleagues. Others have stated that people didn't know what they were voting for in 2014, and now it's time to flesh out the unanticipated details. A third group declaims upon the injustice of a woman serving under a bishop who does not recognize the validity of her ministry. There seems agreement the Philip North is a good man put in an impossible situation and shouldn't someone have recognized this would happen? The discussions - some with genuine tears and some with tears of another sort - have certainly be voluminous.

But what is important about this is that none of these arguments matter. None of them. Conservatives are now going to take their own counsel based upon to their own understanding and act accordingly. They aren't going to be particularly interested in all these arguments and rationalizations and tears shed for the fate of Philip North. Everything they need to know has already been revealed. Somewhere people are going to have conversations about the new meaning of "mutual flourishing" but conservatives have stopped listening.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fill me twice ...

Father Ron said...

" He would like the conservative evangelicals to toe the line or get out, he fears the political power of the liberals...." Michael A -

The Archbishop Canterbury doesn't fear the liberals in the Church of England. He fears more the conservative Evangelicals in the GAFCON. These are the ones holding back the orderly reform of the C. of E.

MichaelA said...

The facts don;t appear to bear you out, Fr Ron. Unless of course you take the view that ++Welby was always being disingenuous when he spoke of "good disagreement" and when he fostered the five guiding principles with the concept of 'mutual flourishing'.

For whatever reason, it was one of his own Deans (not one of York's) that led the public hounding of Philip North, and ++Welby said not a word. Perhaps that was due to collusion, but I suspect it is fear. He dare not speak out against the extremist liberals when they get going.

Of course, in the end the difference does not matter. The bottom line is that conservative evangelicals and anglo-catholics are not wanted in the CofE. That has been made clear.

Father Ron said...

Michael, from your last response about the resignation of Bishop Philip North from the Sheffield 'appointment', you seem not to understand the situation involved; where both High and Low Church, Liberal and Conservatives in the Church of England are recognising the theologicsl inconsistency of a situation where a diocesan Bishop who does not believe in the ontological calling of women into the ordained ministry of the Church of England woud presume to be the licensing authority for women clergy in his diocese. This is a real theological conundrum, don't you think?