That post is here.
If you want to keep commenting, please do so here and not there as it is becoming non-easy to connect with the latest comments there.
The most recent comments at the time of posting this are copied below. Before we get to them, a little reflection of my own:
And they say an Anglican house divided will not stand!
Readers from beyond Down Under may not understand how a mere 1200 miles of ocean (or Ditch) places no particular distance between NZ and Australia in terms of close interest in the doings of our neighbour (at least for Kiwis - no doubt many Australians think of us as the boring little brother or sister!). Cultural distance is another matter ...
So, over in Oz, there is a major and I mean major brouhaha about SSM. Even how a nation with a parliament and a postal system can decide what it collectively thinks and wants re SSM has been a brouhaha. That Kiwis sorted this years ago now with the minimum of fuss may reflect that cultural distance which is clearly wider than 1200 miles ...
Natch, Christians are at odds with each other on this matter, even as they are working out how beleagaured the Christian community at large is within a rapidly secularising Australia.
Fascinatingly, for this Anglican observer at least, even Catholics are at odds with each other, as this article indicates. And in quasi-Anglican terms: the gospel of love versus the law of God!
Here's the thing. Are we Christians/Anglicans/Catholics divided on a matter which is genuinely intractable, which involves deeply held convictions about deep matters of God (law/love)? If so, should we (A) be kind to each other, and (B) work out how we live with these differences rather than how we divide because of them? Let's face it, no matter how much we divide the denominational cake on this one, the whole Christian communities in Oz and NZ will remain Christian communities in which there is major difference over SSB/SSM!
MOST RECENT COMMENTS FROM ORIGINAL POST on Beautiful Anglican Accommodation
"Brendan McNeill said...
An interesting insight into character formation, and the scripting we bring with us into life, and into our lived experience as Christians.
I wonder in the light of those thoughts, what you make of Romans 12:1-2:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I’m particularly interested in the aspect of ‘being transformed by the renewing of your mind’ – how do you suggest that takes place? While I have my own views, I’d be interested in yours.
Secondly, Paul implies that renewal of ones mind is not an automatic process that follows salvation, that it appears to involve some agency or choice on the part of the believer. Thoughts?
Third, when someone undertakes the renewing of their mind and therefore begins to approve of God’s good and perfect will, should we think it strange if their teaching and example did not begin to eventually comply at least somewhat more closely to the example of Jesus, and the testimony of Scripture?
To me this passage of Scripture appears to have considerable bearing upon the matter in question, not in regard to how God views same sex anything, but rather how we view it.
One suspects that some of the failings he was able to confess in his newly-acquired conscience - but which he accepted were subsumed into the redemption of Jesus - were mystically dealt with as part of his journey into the Kingdom of God. Thus: "Thanks be to God for the victory in Christ Jesus"
First off, I see you have chosen the NIV translation, which has “in view of God’s mercy”. A nice rendering, given these two verses constitute the fulcrum [what’s the “therefore” there for?!] of the entire letter, coming after the fulsome presentation of “Paul’s Gospel” (16:25), which forms chs 1-11. The conclusion of these chapters may be viewed as 11:32.
“I urge” [compare other EVV translations]: Paul often presents his more theological material first, followed by his “hortatory” section, given the second is, in his view, the natural consequence arising out of the first. The ground/basis (of his appeal) comes first; then the appeal itself second.
His “appeal”/“exhortation” is addressed to those whom he knows to be his family in the Lord Jesus, the Household of God - “brothers and sisters” - who share in common the Holy Spirit. We are all in this together; but only so on account of God’s gift and doing, his Grace/Mercy.
“Offer”/“present”: classic Jewish sacrificial language. And what is so offered up is first off most concrete - as befits an Incarnational belief, and the God of Creation. Yet this entire first verse also leads back directly to ch.1 and vv.18ff. There the matter was “false worship”, worship of the creature(s) rather than the Creator (v.25); and the result of such “folly” (v.22) furthermore involves both “hearts” and “bodies”, which will be taken up directly in 12:1-2. Note too “desire” (1:24): Augustine will make much of this human trait, since in his schema the entire point is to desire the God who made us and yet we stupidly seek after instead false objects of worship. I.e. he beautifully paraphrases Paul.
In the OT, “sacrifices” were slaughtered naturally, and so dead (or were vegetable); now, since we Christians are both dead and resurrected in Christ Jesus (Rom 6), we’re able truly to offer our very lives - that supreme gift of God, the Living God, Who Is, is returned to its Source.
Yet here too Augustine (in a sermon) plays delightfully: “the trouble with being a living sacrifice is that it has a habit of crawling off the altar!”
“Holy”: anything given over unto God, as we Christians should now be, was considered holy in the OT.
The “aroma/odour” of any burnt sacrifice in the OT was often described as smelling pleasant or pleasing to God. Cf. 2 Cor 2:14-17.
All of which response ‘accords well’ with what we should be doing: creatures are meant to worship their Creator (Rev 4 & 5). This response is the most “logical/rational”, consistent reaction to what chs 1-11 have displayed: the phrase “true and proper” is thus one translation; another is “spiritual”. And “worship” is one of a pair often used: leitourgia = bringing of offerings or performing ceremonial services; latreia, as here = worship/service of God.
“Conformed to this age/world”: adding the word “pattern” in your translation brings out the Greek verb nicely. All that is opposed to God comprises an entire “scheme” - in both senses of that word. And here there’s often a real difficulty. Many folk are simply blind to the fact that there IS such a ‘world’ which is against God (back to 1:21-22 again). This “period” of history in which we currently live as humans consists of two opposing ‘worlds’, or ‘schemata’, one which is under God’s Kingdom and another which opposes his Rule. Cf. Col 1:12-14. The NT simply makes no sense apart from this Apocalyptic dualism. Now; of course it’s pretty fashionable to discount such a scheme of things in the modern, secular West. The world is the world is the world; and that’s all there is to it. And furthermore, it’s but a natural evolutionary process ... This is one enormous temptation for Western Christians. Nor do I sense many of us have managed to quite reconcile either the natural sciences or the social sciences with our Christian Faith very well. The history of theology these past 200 years is instructive. Indeed; I fancy much of what passes for discussion on That Topic has its roots right here.
Next. I write this in God’s Address re Eph 4:20-24. “This archetypal pairing of putting off the old and putting on the new (see too Col 3:1–14), “in the power of the Spirit” (Rom 8:13), via the “renewing of the spirit of the mind”, may be likened to a pair of scissors. Such an instrument is made up of three things: a pair of opposing blades, and a rivet holding them together. This crucial pivot, with a similar contrast of old and new, is exactly what Paul presents again at the turning point of his magisterial Romans, 12:1–2.”
“Mind”: technically, this word nous had uses in popular mysticism and philosophy, as a specific faculty that engaged such things. Paul may or may not be thinking of this here. Overall, the point is clear enough: our ‘human control centre’ is to engage with the significance of what has happened on account of the Gospel, both externally, objectively in history itself, and to each and every Christian by way of their conversion and incorporation into Christ Jesus, Who in Himself, is the New Age. Once more, this ensures our response is “consistent with” the Gospel (as in the last part of v.1). Yet this “transformation” is no instant thing; it is continuous in this current ‘world’. Cf. 2 Cor 3:18. Our “walk in the Spirit”, who does this transformation work within us, is an ongoing business (Gal 5:25, Rom 8:9-13). My most fulsome experience of the sort of thing envisaged here has been my exposure to the work and ministry of Leanne Payne. Her Pastoral Care Ministries and now, after her retirement and death, the Ministry of Pastoral Care Schools were/are quite extraordinary. They are a special and almost unique expression of what this “transformation” is all about, I warrant. And they surely address the very sorts of things Bowman is raising by way of “invincible ignorance”, etc. Actually, firstly, in the power of the Risen Jesus, such things prove to be NOT invincible, although seemingly, previously they might have appeared so; they are also brought to light/into the Light, and so become “known” - as they were always in God’s Sight anyway. And I’m also referring to intergenerational stuff as well ...
“Then”: so that, the purpose and goal of all this. “Test and approve” unpacks the double sense of the Greek: both prove and approve; approve, having first tested; both discerning that will and then of course following it faithfully, obediently.
And of course such a divine will is three things in this context. For God himself is always “good” and just; and such goodness (of God and God’s purposes) pleases him, brings God pleasure and joy; “perfect” is also “mature/complete” (as in Matt 5:48), and so naturally rounds everything off. There is always a point to all that God does and is!
This running commentary, Brendan, has already begun to address your subsequent questions. These verses are absolutely seminal, as I say, regarding the Christian life in general, and so should be able to bring MUCH LIGHT TO BEAR upon our present Anglican dilemmas. They also govern both confessors and their supplicants, in my experience. To summarize therefore. Christians are sanctified by the patient ministry of word-and-sacrament; by private and corporate prayer; by consistent and persistent “acts of mercy” in their ministry and mission in and to and for the world. Via all these things the Holy Spirit conforms us to the Image of Christ Jesus. I wrote God’s Address as an explicit answer both to making things Trinitarian operational, and to guide folk into reading Scripture via a Trinitarian lens - in a Trinitarian vein, as I say. That very ‘reading’ leads most naturally to an entire set of other things (as the workbook also lays out). For the Triune God works in those Ways he has clearly laid out for us in his written Word. It’s only a case of learning (as a disciple!!) ‘How’ to ‘Read’, and so how to “Perform” such a ‘reading’. The trick is ever becoming a practised, virtuoso performer, following the score of the text of the Word (written and Personal) in the power of the Spirit, unto the Father’s Glory.
Thank you for taking the time to make a such a comprehensive response to my question. I agree that they are pivotal verses in helping us understand the process of transformation God seeks to undertake in the mind and the life of the believer.
I agree with the ‘two kingdoms’ understanding of the environment we inhabit, and the battle that is ever present for the hearts and minds of the believer, and ultimately Christ’s Bride, the Church.
Yes, to submitting our bodies as a living sacrifice, and our minds to the transforming power of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit. I am unaware of the life and ministry of Leanne Payne, however she has clearly had a significant impact upon you. The teaching and ministry of Derek Prince had a similar impact on my life as a new believer (and beyond). He came to Christchurch at least once, and had a powerful ministry in the spirit as well as the Word. Many were healed and delivered from demons in his meetings as I recall.
I appreciate that you have also added the sacraments to the Word and the Spirit. This is an emphasis I have begun to appreciate more since my involvement in the Anglican church. Ron, if you are reading this, then I’m sure that will please you!
Over the years, I have had the privilege of seeing many people’s lives transform through the process you have outlined, albeit maybe not as well understood as you have expressed. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (NIV). Surely, this is the transforming power at work in Romans 12:1-2.