A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More indications of the church's divisions: The Presbytery of San Diego has voted for a resolution for the eventual withdrawal from the Presbyterian Church. Primates of the Global South have written a letter calling into question Rowan William's leadership. In particular whether he is willing to act with the Anglican "consensus" against gay and lesbians in the church.

Akinola, head of the church in Nigeria said at a recent gathering of conservative Episcopalians that "it was time to choose between remaining part of the "revisionist" U.S. church or joining their biblically faithful counterparts in the worldwide Anglican Communion". Also the Episcopal Church was called "a Non-Christian, Foreign, Alien and Pagan Religion"

The sort of demonization of the other required for such moves, the quickness and eagerness that some have in seeing the church split apart makes me think of Paul's letter to the Corinthians in which he writes:

"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."


At 4:46 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

Oh, great. TBH this Akinola chap worries me. Your quote makes it quite clear: demonization-of-other, indeed the whole setting-up of `us v them', etc... whether you think ECUSA and/or the CoE have been wrong in their doings over non-heterosexual couplings and the priesthood or not, there is nothing but division coming from Nigeria. ISTR reading he doesn't have the full support of all his congregations; he slyly rewrites the CoN's constitution as though anglican-hood were defined by some particular set of stances-on-issues rather than friendly allegiance to Canterbury; his attempts to correct and reconcile - or even just to enjoy differences of opinion in a spirit of fellowship - are conspicuous by their absence; he does not play ball by the same set of morals as the West, insofar as it seems impossible to get the message across that *we* understand *him* to be living in a different culture than us and yet *don't* seek to pass judgement all the time and wouldn't it be nice if he reciprocated?

I have, recently, read through {1,2,3} John and Jude in quick succession. It's actually quite hard to reconcile the spirit of these epistles ("if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another", etc - thinking "how does one love one's neighbour/brother?") with Paul who does state elsewhere that some folks should be put out of the assembly; how do you apply these things to modern life in the anglican communion? If you draw a line at a given point between trying to dialogue and deciding to go separate ways, does that not say rather a lot about you and the strength of your faith?

Much as I think Akinola's actions are better suited to him ripping out ties with Anglicans altogether and calling his church `evangelical fundamentalist', I *have* to think that we should endeavour to keep him on board. I see his Ephesians 6:10ff and raise him chapters 1-5 (and a new translation) instead.

I was somewhat surprised and amused to see "A New Version of 1 Corithians 12" in my church's (EC-Scotland) magazine for this month. As you quoted, but rephrased in such terms as "The church in India cannot say, `Because I'm not English, I do not belong to the world Church'. Nor can the church in Nigeria say, `Because I'm not Korean, I do not belong to the world Church'.", and so on.

At 7:59 PM , Blogger greg said...

I've been reading "Constantine's Sword" by James Carroll, and I just passed the part where he describes how there wasn't a whole lot of dogma associated with Christianity until Constantine adopted the religion. How did this move lead to a bunch of Dogma? Well, Contantine was all about claiming God's authority for himself. In order to do that, he had to silence others who had ideas about God which differed from his own; he couldn't very well claim to be God's chosen ruler on earth if there were Bishops and such running around claiming that God actually thought differently about things than Contantine.

Generalizing, it struck me that nothing so threatens somebody who wants to claim God's authority for him or herself than devout religious people who disagree with them. This is why heresy and schism are such recurring themes: people like Akinola never tire of trying to play God, and the first act in the playbook is always to try and discredit those who disagree with them about God. To me the first criteria for understanding what God is all about is understanding that whatever each of us may think that we know about God, we don't really know anything. God works through each of us in God's own way, through the Gospel writers, through the prophets, through Hindus and Muslims and Atheists; through each and every one of us. Each of us witnesses a certain part of what God is about, and for any of us to claim that our picture of God is right and everyone elses is wrong is always idolotry. Well, at least I think so - I don't really know ;).


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