The Bishop’s Invitational Blog–No. 2 (What do you think . . .?)

September 28, 2006

The Feast of St. Matthew and / or Impaired or Broken Communion 

I’m reading the commentaries on the Feast of Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (September 21).   I recommend reading Matthew 9:9-13 before proceeding with what follows.  The reading concludes with our Lord making reference to a verse in Hebrew scripture:  “Go and learn what this means”, he said, “’I desire mercy, not sacrifice’.  For I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners.” 

Recall that Matthew’s profession was that of a tax collector, a despised and rejected group among pious, faithful Jews.  We Christians tend to criticize their legalism, but the Pharisees were not evil people.  Their objective was to inspire every Israelite to live ritually pure at all times—thus the Kingdom of God would be at hand, and the entire earth a place of worship—a remarkable vision! Richard Pervo, in Proclamation 3:  Lesser Festivals 3, writes:  “Jesus had a different approach.  Rather than whip everyone into shape and then invite them to celebrate their reformation, he invited sinners to dine with him and receive God’s gracious gift.  This would free them for the possibility of change….  Like the parables, the practice of eating and drinking with sinners manifested the presence of the eschatological event we call grace and he called the Kingdom of God….  The call of Matthew reads like a dream come true, an immediate and insuperable invitation that sweeps away the past loneliness of sin and ushers in a new life of friends and celebration….  The good news is that even tax collectors, scribes, and people like you and me can join together at Christ’s table and celebrate.” 

Suppositions:  (1) We are all sinners.     (2) Jesus came to save sinners.     (3) Jesus dined with sinners.     (4) When we dine with/on Jesus, we are in communion with him and he with us.     (5) When we dine with/on Jesus, we receive grace which strengthens us for more faithful Christian living and continues our transformation. 

Question:  In light of this biblical teaching, what are the implications in declaring ourselves, or being declared, in “impaired communion”, or “not in communion” with others?

Advertisements

49 Responses to “The Bishop’s Invitational Blog–No. 2 (What do you think . . .?)”

  1. George Gray Says:

    Bishop Henderson’s suppositions:

    – “We are all sinners.” True!

    – “Jesus came to save sinners.” Absolutely!

    – “Jesus dined with sinners.” The Bible tells me so!

    – “When we dine with/on Jesus, we are in communion with him and he with us.” Well not necessarily for that depends on our recognizing Jesus as Lord.

    – “When we dine with/on Jesus, we receive grace, which strengthens us for more faithful Christian living and continues our transformation.” Well not necessarily for again that depends on our accepting that gift.

    “Question: In light of this biblical teaching, what are the implications in declaring ourselves, or being declared, in “impaired communion”, or “not in communion” with others?”

    In light of this Biblical teaching, some of the implications in declaring ourselves, or being declared, in “impaired communion”, or “not in communion” are based in the recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord! Those who do not recognize Jesus Christ as Lord are not in communion.

    Further, to properly receive and accept the grace that saved a wretch like me, I must examine my life and conduct by the rule of God’s commandments and acknowledge my sins before Him with full purpose of amendment of life. If I choose not to acknowledge my sins with full purpose of amendment of life then, at best, I am in “impaired communion”.

    These are most excellent questions for they are similar to the questions posed by the Anglican Communion to the Episcopal Church.

  2. Charles Davis Says:

    The Gospel for this week seemed to respond to the question. From Mark we hear, “Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” Jesus, at the Last Supper broke the bread and shared the cup with his disicples. Jesus did not exclude Judas, nor did he refuse to share the bread and cup with Judas. “Impaired Communion” is a recent justification for those in theological disputs to show there anger. But the bottom line seems to be bearing the name of Christ. To declar ourselves out of communion who those with who we disagree, even though they confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior seems to be more than Jesus would do.

  3. Kent Says:

    The communion we enjoy at the Lord’s Supper is but a species (pun intended) of the larger transhistorical Christian communion, the purposes of which the Windsor Report defines with prophetic clarity: “The unity of the church, the communion of all its members with one another (which are the primary subjects of this report), and the radical holiness to which all Christ’s people are called, are thus rooted in the trinitarian life and purposes of the one God. They are designed not for their own sake (as though the church’s in-house business were an end in itself), but to serve and signify God’s mission to the world, that mission whereby God brings to men and women, to human societies and to the whole world, real signs and foretastes of that healing love which will one day put all things to rights. The communion we enjoy with God in Christ and by the Spirit, and the communion we enjoy with all God’s people living and departed, is the specific practical embodiment and fruit of the gospel itself, the good news of God’s action in Jesus Christ to deal once and for all with evil and to inaugurate the new creation . . . . All that can be said about unity and communion assumes [its] foundation in the gospel itself. It assumes, likewise, that this unity and communion are meaningless unless they issue in that holiness of life, worked out in severely practical contexts, through which the church indicates to the world that a new way of being human, over against corrupt and dehumanising patterns of life, has been launched upon the world. In other words, unity, communion and holiness all belong together. Ultimately, questions about one are questions about all.” (WR 3)

    ( TO BE CONTINUED … )

  4. Lisa Says:

    I am not a theologian but I like to read and learn as my spirit grows & enriches itself, thus I may not be on the same level as those suited better to answer because I can only answer from my limited knowledge.

    It seems to me impaired/broken commuinion takes a different meaning when you speak personally vs globally.

    Personally:
    I believe we are all in communion with Christ since we were marked one of his own at baptism. If I could lead a sinless life then what would be the point of having a Savior. Personally, if I take Communion without repentance it does not feel the same and the my spirit feels impaired. I would consider this an impaired Communion and if this continued then it would lead to a broken communion because eventually my spirit would be so hindered the communion would become meaningless.

    Globally:
    The Anglican Communion is what is commonly thought of with the expression “in communion”. Anglican churches are held together by bonds of affection and common loyalty to unite us as one body. Violating the agreements of the instruments of that unity (Archbishop,Lambeth Conference, Primates, ACC) would impair this Commuinion. I would think continued disregard of that unity would lead to the same broken communion one self can experience personally for the same reasons.

    In my opinion it would mean a member church is out of Communion with the community of Anglican churches and it’s unity but NOT of The Church which Jesus Christ is the Head of and ALL baptized members belong. As the rubric say The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.

    I hope I correctly expressed what I am trying to reflect. Thank You for this opportunity once again Bishop Henderson.

  5. Glenn Gould Says:

    From God’s point of view, we humans are family. Jesus recognizes this truth. He incarnates it; he teaches it.

    We belong because God declares us to be his children. God declares us to be brothers and sisters of one another. Race, sex, religion, philosophy, creeds, councils – social status, wealth, power, tribe, clan, nation, sinner, saint – we may divide ourselves up along these lines but God doesn’t.

    In the heavenly kingdom we’re family and remember … on earth as it is in heaven is what we’re working for. At God’s Family Table, we are all welcome because we are all family – God’s word says it’s so.

    Christians are no more or less welcome than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, humanists, and atheists. It is God’s table and he says we’re all welcome.

    Because families squabble, some of us from time to time try to make rules about who is welcome (in communion or in impaired communion) at the Family Table (God’s Table).

    God wants us to quit these divisive behaviors and get busy welcoming everyone – feeding everyone – loving everyone – forgiving everyone – helping everyone. We do these things because we recognize that we are family and we can never stop being family.

    When we do these things we honor him and his WORD and his words. When we don’t, we don’t.

    Obviously I believe that Jesus sees farther than we (his church) are willing to see. We’re still hung up on who has made the right church promises (Baptism) and who’s in a church frame of mind (confession and repentance).

    When we catch up to Jesus we’ll understand that we all need to be at the table together and that our willingness to come and to be fed together is all that he requires.

    Come unto me ALL YE that travail and are heavy laden and I WILL REFRESH YOU. Versus: Come unto me ALL YE that are baptized and who promise to be good …

    Jesus had more good news than we’re comfortable with.

  6. Paul Melotte Says:

    Charles Davis said, ““Impaired Communion” is a recent justification for those in theological disputs to show there anger.”

    No, Charles, this is not true. Liberals have, on their own, impaired their communion with the rest of the AC They have decided that homosexuality is no longer a sin, that abortion is o.k., that marriage is no longer for only one man and one woman, and that the Bible is no longer the word of God. They trot out the Holy Spirit every time they need to rationalize an immoral behavior. Why is it, by the way, that the Holy Spirit only gives new revelation to liberals? Charles, conservatives are doing exactly what the bible calls them to do – turn away, shun, and refuse false teachers

  7. Glenn Gould Says:

    Paul, I respectfully disagree that liberals are solely accountable for the feelings of people who feel that communion is impaired. I am a liberal (probably somewhere to the left of Teddy Kennedy and Vermont). I’m not responsible for your feelings, you are — how you choose to respond to an action of mine is your choice, your decision. Many, many people who lean to the conservative side of things are disappointed, upset, but are still working within the system (with liberals) to make things better. Another group has chosen to leave — again, their choice. Saying that you have no choice is a cowardly cop out – a failure to take responsibility for your own actions.

    Homosexuality: Liberals like myself have decided that Jesus habit of always including the outcasts is extraordinarily morally significant. We recognize that the Bible is a story for and about outcasts (the word Hebrew most probably refers to people who were wanders, strangers, and aliens).

    The Bible is the story of the Hebrew people. This fact also has tremendous moral weight when one attempts to do the right thing towards our LGBT citizens who have been murdered, beaten, spat upon, lied about, stolen from, discriminated against, fired, shunned, insulted and treated as objects of derision – fair game to rally the base and get votes.

    There is a strain in the Bible that seems to be against homosexuality. My view is that it is more an expression of man’s ideas that have crept into the Bible than it is the will of God.

    In my view the scales of justice tip clearly in favor of including homosexuals. It’s not that homosexuality is no longer a sin; it’s that it never was a sin in the eyes of God. I do wish Jesus had said something to a person who was identifiably homosexual, but he didn’t.

    Abortion: I think you’ll find that liberals are as divided on abortion as the rest of the country. I used to be solid rock conservative on the subject. I’ve moved somewhat to the center because I just do not attribute the same value to early potential lives as I do to living breathing out of the womb people.

    You may have heard the question posed that if you could save 12 potential (embryos) humans or a real live 2 year old — but you couldn’t save both, would you choose the 12 or the 1. I realized that I’d choose the 2 year old in a heartbeat. Maybe those embryos are not quite as valuable to me as I had once thought.

    Changing Marriage: Personally I wish we’d get out of the marriage business altogether. I do believe that we should be in the business of blessing relationships where there exists a lifelong commitment and demonstrated fidelity (no sleeping around) whether these are opposite sex or same sex relationships. Why not since I don’t see anything inherently sinful in homosexuality — a view I base on Jesus treatment of all kinds of outcasts.

    As to the Bible being the word of God: Some people believe that the Bible is perfectly inerrant and inspired. Sad to say but there is absolutely no more evidence for that view than there is for the view that the moon is made of green cheese. I think that belief is harmful because it suggests that God behaved differently in the past (when he supposedly perfectly inspired the human authors) than He does now. Bad idea.

    I believe the human authors were inspired by God in the same way that He inspires people today — imperfectly. Occasionally human authors may express the mind of God. At other times human authors are expressing their views, their culture, their agendas and not God. The task of the Bible student is to separate the God stuff from the stuff that looks like, sounds like, smells like, walks like man’s stuff.

    The evidence is clearly on the side that the Bible has a lot of man’s stuff in it that does not live up to the standard of God’s stuff. In some ways liberals take the Bible much more seriously than the self proclaimed “bible believers.”

    Holy Spirit: We’d all do well to remember that Jesus said the wind blows where it will — no one has exclusive claim to Holy Spirit — least of all those who claim it.

    False Teachers and Shunning: Conservatives, however, are on very dangerous ground when they choose to label people like myself as “false teachers.” We’re all students at the masters feet. I believe scriptural warnings about not judging should be heeded. False teacher is awfully strong from a group that is ready to walk away from fellowship and is blaming the group that is trying to keep them together for making them leave.

    As you can see I do respectfully disagree with most of what you posted. I do not judge you, however, to be a false teacher nor do I regard you as someone to be shunned. You and I are brothers in Christ Jesus who are presently disagreeing about what we believe is his will and his best teaching.

    I thinks it’s best that we continue our search for truth together. While I will offer ideas that may challenge you and upset you, as your ideas challenge and upset me. I’d like to think as we pray for one another and seek God’s truth together it will be revealed in due time.

  8. Paul Melotte Says:

    Mr. Gould, before I reply to your post could you please answer a question? In your previous post you said, “Christians are no more or less welcome than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, humanists, and atheists. It is God’s table and he says we’re all welcome.”

    Are you saying that if a known atheist walked up to your altar on Sunday morning you would not hesitate to give him communion – the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

  9. Glenn Gould Says:

    Paul, Thanks for your question. Taking it first just at face value:

    My initial answer is that I would not based on the church rules and customs I have said I would obey. I’m assuming our athiest is an unbaptized person who has made her atheism clear to all. My opinion is that were Jesus serving the communion in person, he would serve us all. If such a person came forward on Sunday morning, I would offer them a blessing.

    My granddaugher comes to church with me — she’t 10 years old. Until she receives Holy Baptism, she receives a blessing rather than communion. I suspect Jesus would serve her also were he presiding in person.

    What if our athiest was a baptized person? Our church rules say the person has to be baptized. What if they “think” they were baptized? If there’s a chance that this person was baptized, I’d like to err on the side of grace so I’d probably serve them if they came forward and extended their hands to receive. Leave the results to the Lord.

    What if they were an athiest who was baptized 40 years earlier and was having second thoughts about their profession of atheism? The first communion I ever took, I took for all the wrong reasons — I had been baptized as an infant — but I was a long way from being a believer — no one knew what I believed for sure except God (not even me as my beliefs were “in progress”). In my case, that communion literally changed my life. Less than an hour after that communion, God in Christ became REAL to me as opposed to being simply an idea.

    Excellent question. Thanks, again.

  10. Paul Melotte Says:

    Glenn Gould said,

    >>I am a liberal (probably somewhere to the left of Teddy Kennedy and Vermont).>Homosexuality: Liberals like myself have decided that Jesus habit of always including the outcasts is extraordinarily morally significant.>There is a strain in the Bible that seems to be against homosexuality. My view is that it is more an expression of man’s ideas that have crept into the Bible than it is the will of God.>In my view the scales of justice tip clearly in favor of including homosexuals. It’s not that homosexuality is no longer a sin; it’s that it never was a sin in the eyes of God. I do wish Jesus had said something to a person who was identifiably homosexual, but he didn’t.>Abortion: I think you’ll find that liberals are as divided on abortion as the rest of the country.>I used to be solid rock conservative on the subject. I’ve moved somewhat to the center because I just do not attribute the same value to early potential lives as I do to living breathing out of the womb people. You may have heard the question posed that if you could save 12 potential (embryos) humans or a real live 2 year old — but you couldn’t save both, would you choose the 12 or the 1. I realized that I’d choose the 2 year old in a heartbeat. Maybe those embryos are not quite as valuable to me as I had once thought.>False Teachers and Shunning: Conservatives, however, are on very dangerous ground when they choose to label people like myself as “false teachers.”

  11. Paul Melotte Says:

    Sorry Glenn, my reply to what you said above did not come through. I will give it another try later.

  12. Paul E Melotte Says:

    Glenn Gould said,

    >>I am a liberal (probably somewhere to the left of Teddy Kennedy and Vermont).>Homosexuality: Liberals like myself have decided that Jesus habit of always including the outcasts is extraordinarily morally significant.>There is a strain in the Bible that seems to be against homosexuality. My view is that it is more an expression of man’s ideas that have crept into the Bible than it is the will of God.>In my view the scales of justice tip clearly in favor of including homosexuals. It’s not that homosexuality is no longer a sin; it’s that it never was a sin in the eyes of God. I do wish Jesus had said something to a person who was identifiably homosexual, but he didn’t.>Abortion: I think you’ll find that liberals are as divided on abortion as the rest of the country.>I used to be solid rock conservative on the subject. I’ve moved somewhat to the center because I just do not attribute the same value to early potential lives as I do to living breathing out of the womb people. You may have heard the question posed that if you could save 12 potential (embryos) humans or a real live 2 year old — but you couldn’t save both, would you choose the 12 or the 1. I realized that I’d choose the 2 year old in a heartbeat. Maybe those embryos are not quite as valuable to me as I had once thought.>False Teachers and Shunning: Conservatives, however, are on very dangerous ground when they choose to label people like myself as “false teachers.”

  13. Paul E Melotte Says:

    Glenn,

    For some reason this blog removes what I have written and only posts your qoutes to which I am responding – I assume it has somthing to do with the way I formatted my reply in WORD.

    I will give it one more shot, if this does not work you can email me @ paulmelotte@charter.net and I will send my response to you personally – Sorry, Paul

    Glenn Gould said,

    GG: I am a liberal (probably somewhere to the left of Teddy Kennedy and Vermont).

    PM: A proud Socialist – don’t see many of those these days.

    GG: Homosexuality: Liberals like myself have decided that Jesus habit of always including the outcasts is extraordinarily morally significant.

    PM: The fact is, Jesus did NOT always include outcasts, and He did not even always include all those who profess to be Christian. To whom was Jesus referring in Matt. 7:21-23, 25:1-13, 25:41 – remember Ananias and Sapphira?

    GG: There is a strain in the Bible that seems to be against homosexuality. My view is that it is more an expression of man’s ideas that have crept into the Bible than it is the will of God.

    PM: Sir, the bible claims to be the Word of God over 2,000 times, it claims ultimate spiritual authority, inerrancy, and infallibility – it is true and trustworthy. These qualities depend on the fact that the Scriptures are God-given.

    GG: In my view the scales of justice tip clearly in favor of including homosexuals. It’s not that homosexuality is no longer a sin; it’s that it never was a sin in the eyes of God. I do wish Jesus had said something to a person who was identifiably homosexual, but he didn’t.

    PM: Of course, you are in direct disagreement with your Bishop on this subject. Maybe you could explain to Bishop Henderson why he has missed the mark on this subject. If homosexuality is not a sin, why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Why is homosexuality condemned in the OT and the NT? In addition, have you ever noticed that every single marriage in the bible is between a man and a woman?

    GG: Abortion: I think you’ll find that liberals are as divided on abortion as the rest of the country.

    PM: Abortion, sir, is part of the Democrat (liberal) platform; pro-life is part of the Republican (conservative) platform.

    GG: I used to be solid rock conservative on the subject. I’ve moved somewhat to the center because I just do not attribute the same value to early potential lives as I do to living breathing out of the womb people. You may have heard the question posed that if you could save 12 potential (embryos) humans or a real live 2 year old — but you couldn’t save both, would you choose the 12 or the 1. I realized that I’d choose the 2 year old in a heartbeat. Maybe those embryos are not quite as valuable to me as I had once thought.

    PM: C’mon Glenn, this is a foolish argument. Since when do we have to kill one child so 12 others can live? An embryo is not a potential human Glenn, it IS a human. Mr. Gould can you remember a time when your mother described what it was like to carry you inside her. Kicking, rolling over, hiccups – an abortion would have killed you Mr. Gould, not a potential you.

    GG: False Teachers and Shunning: Conservatives, however, are on very dangerous ground when they choose to label people like myself as “false teachers.”

    PM: God said to Jeremiah, “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so.” Again He said, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds” (14:14). Paul said, “As we have said before, so I say again now, if a man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Gal. 1:9.

    One thing is sure – one of us is a false teacher.

  14. Glenn Gould Says:

    Paul — thanks for your persistent and thoughtful reply. You quote a lot of scripture for me to consider — I’m considering.

    I noticed that you chose not to address the subject of EVIDENCE for your view on the nature of the Bible’s authority. Can you cite any evidence that the Bible reflects only the mind of God? Does the Bible contain anything that you regard as wrong?

    As you know some people take their belief in the Bible to the point of believing that the world was created only thousands of years ago instead of billions of years ago — they base that belief on their reading of the Bible. Are you a believer in a “young earth?”

    What is your view of slavery. There is quite a quantity of scripture that suggests that slavery is OK? How do you deal with the issue of slavery? Do you weigh some scriptures as being more important than others?

    As you know, there is lots of evidence that the earth is old. There is a world of opinion both religious and secular that slavery is wrong — even though respected Bible scholars (civil war era) like the Rev. Richard Furman found nothing in the Bible that against the institution of slavery (I went to Furman University so when his name popped up, I took note).

    Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that you are a pro slavery or young earth person. What I’m saying is that even the most devout Bible students (strict constructionist) have to do a llittle fancy footwork to say that slavery is not the will of God based on the Bible — they have to do some picking and choosing — some cerebral gymnastics.

    Same story on young earth versus old earth. The Bible seems to suggest a young earth.

    All I’m saying is that slavery and young earth were the beliefs of the human authors of the Bible. They were part of the author’s cultures. That’s why those ideas are in the Bible — they are the ideas of men — not God.

    What is your approach to scripture? The reason for not going back point by point to your thoughtful reply, is that if we have no common ground in our approach to the Bible, we’re not likely to agree on the meanings of biblical passages.

  15. Paul Melotte Says:

    Glenn,

    In 2 Timothy Paul states that ALL scripture is inspired by God. Some may say that when Paul used the word “scripture” he was referring to the Old Testament. However, in 1 Timothy Paul wrote, “The Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while he is threshing,’ and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” The first quote is from the OT (Deut 25:4) and the second is from the NT (Luke 10:7) – you notice he calls both Scripture.

    Hebrews opens with, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2) Here the writer is saying that God spoke in the OT through the prophets and in the NT through Jesus.

    Paul said, “These things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thought with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:13). In another letter he wrote, “I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).

    To Thessalonica Paul wrote, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).

    Peter called Paul’s epistles Scripture in 2 Peter 3:16. Jude also states, “the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 17-18).

    On this subject, Dr. John Macarthur said, “Unless the very words of Scripture are inspired and authoritative, man is left to his own resources to ferret out what seem to be underlying divine concepts and principles. But instead of discovering what has been called “the Word behind the words” – that is, the divine truth behind the human words – that approach leads to the very opposite. It presumptuously and self-deceptively “discovers” mans word, as it were, behind God’s words, judging God’s divine truth by the standards of man’s sinful inclinations and distorted perceptions. As Paul said to Titus, the commandments of men turn people away from God’s truth (Titus 1:4).”

  16. Glenn Gould Says:

    Paul,
    Quoting scripture to support the authority of scripture is called circular reasoning. It’s like saying scripture is inspired because scripture says so. It is a closed system. Without meaning any disrespect to anyone who finds themselves comfortably ensconced in the system, it usually leads to closed minds.

    It’s a way of being stuck intellectually and spiritually. If the Devil can get you to be a true Bible-believing Christian, he’s got you stuck – marginalized by everyone (except other people who are equally stuck). I know some very fine people, good people, do anything for anyone kind of people who are stuck in this way of being “faithful.”

    Just ask Galileo, Copernicus, Darwin, slaves, women and now gays about those closed minds – ask people who were and are devalued by a church acting out what was believed to be word of God.

    To quote your Dr. Macarthur, ” … man is left to his own resources to ferret out what seem to be underlying divine concepts and principles.” That’s it, he get’s it … but he doesn’t or you would not have quoted him.

    If the scriptures are simply taken at face value as totally inspired and inerrant, then we’ve got to explain a young earth. Hence we’ve got creationists – people who are stuck within their own closed system and whose minds are closed to finding truth outside of scripture.

    To them Darwin is wrong and people who disagree with them are “unbelievers.” We hear them asking relatively silly and pathetic questions like, “Who are you going to believe – Darwin or the Bible?” I repeat they are marginalized. They are seen for what they are – defenders of a system that is intellectually indefensible. In the realm of ideas they have been neutralized. With their strange ideas about creation, women, gays – what they have to say about Jesus may be hard to hear. Fortunately these people can still serve through good works and most of them do.

    I repeat there is no EVIDENCE that the Bible is right about everything. There is evidence that it is wrong about the young earth. Of course there are volumes of theology that attempt to deal with the young earth problem in a variety of ways – many of them are quite convincing. But here we get into interpreting, weighing the importance of this passage versus that, and even getting into sources outside the Bible to shed light on the Bible.

    Personally I’m an advocate of the historical/critical approach to the Bible. It allows us to take the Bible seriously while avoiding the errors of the literalists. It also let us move outside the closed system.

    When I say that the Bible is simply wrong about some things, I know that is taken by some as disrespect for God’s word. I find it more respectful to tell the truth, to seek the truth, and to proclaim the truth (backed by evidence) as a way of honoring God and his word. It was written by humans and the human point of view is clear.

  17. Paul Melotte Says:

    Mr. Gould,

    Which of the verses I quoted in my previous post are false and why?
    The apostles were given authority to build the church by our Lord Jesus Christ. They were chosen by Him, they were trained by Him and were sent forth to proclaim the gospel that He gave them. Because they were representatives of Christ’s, what they did, said and wrote was with divine authority. Disagree with them if you wish.

    I must say, you have responded to me three times now and have done nothing but make dogmatic assertions without bothering to back up what you say. For example, you said, “With their strange ideas about creation…” Creation is a strange idea? God didn’t create Adam and Eve? Can you back this up with something more than a mere statement or is it simply true because it is true for you?

    You also said, “It’s not that homosexuality is no longer a sin; it’s that it never was a sin in the eyes of God.” I am still waiting for you to tell me why our bishop is wrong in calling homosexuality a sin.

  18. Dennis Lowe Says:

    We are in communion with Jesus and our creator and all of creation, when we decide to quit being petulant children, stomping away from the table.

    It is amazing to me, and others, the amount of angst generated over not much. Certainly it is nothing Jesus thought worthy of mention in any of the canonical Gospels. Homosexuality is referred to in only six, I think, verses in 66 (or more) books of the Bible. Yours is a denomination that is a small part of a communion that is itself numerically a tiny part of global Christian practice. And you certainly must know that there are gay and lesbian clergy actively serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, and other Episcopal dioceses.

    We were given two commandments by Jesus:
    1. Love God with all your heart, soul, and might.
    2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

    The first commandment is difficult for all of us, even more so for the Frozen Chosen. Ephesians tells us to imitate Christ, but we end up looking so much more like the world, to paraphrase Todd Agnew. It’s not about the land, or the buildings, or who’s in charge. But since Zebedee’s sons first jockeyed for ecclesial position, the actual service to others has been obscured by concern for self.

    The second commandment assumes that we love ourselves! And how can that be, when we despise most those closest to us? I wrote you a resolution last year, and it passed without a word against it in discussion, and without a vote against it. The second ACTION part of the resolution read:

    “That we work more fervently locally, at the diocesan and parish level, in concert with the efforts of the national Episcopal Church, to reach out in the building of bonds of affection with all other local Roman, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, particularly seeking to embrace our non-Episcopal but Anglican neighbors, we actively seek a way to warm discourse, some level of communion, and areas of partnership in ministry to the community;”

    The next ACTION item was ‘like unto it’:

    “That we encourage our clergy and laity to invite our neighboring Anglican brothers and sisters to join us at Christ’s table, and to seek to join them at their worship as well, and to reach out to them in welcome and express our desire to know one another more fully;”

    You have done nothing whatsoever to reach out to your hurting Anglican cousins. Fr. Chip Edgar, the rector of the AMiA church only a few blocks from your cathedral, had an extremely serious health problem arise in the last year. At a time when pastoral care and Christian love could have been, should have been offered, you did nothing. Shame on you all.

    According to the contacts I retain in the diocese, you have done nothing at all called for in last year’s unanimously approved resolution on ecumenical relations. This most important part of churchmanship has fallen into disrepair, because you’d rather argue over who should and who should not be wearing purple shirts.

    My church sent a music missionary to your newest mission. We reached out to you, to work with that congregation, to build a music program. That seed has brought forth fruit, with that mission’s own hard work and investment of their gifts.

    I weep for your incalcitrance, and pray that you give up the folly that has distracted you all. You have five resolutions submitted currently; three have to do with Mammon. Christ told us in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    My advice to this diocese, to all dioceses, is that you give up the land and buildings. You have no valid legal claim, regardless, as they were stolen from the King of England in 1776, who stole them from Rome in 1535. The church buildings rightly belong to God, entrusted temporarily to the people who go to church there, and whose families are buried in the yard. Give each congregation notice that you don’t desire the property dear to them, but would rather give your love to them, because they are dear to you. The work of the church can then continue unimpeded by purple shirts, collars, and land claims.

  19. Rick Says:

    Question for PAUL MELOTTE …

    When/where does Bishop Henderson clearly and directly label homosexuality as SIN (using that word explicity) ? Just curious in case I missed it …

  20. Rick Says:

    Comment to GLENN GOULD …

    Your continued silence on PAUL’s query about why you deny our Bishop’s teaching on homosexuality (assuming he has indeed labeled it as “sin”) speaks volumes. If we deny the authority of both Scripture and the Church (represented in our Bishop), then we’re only left with the authority of our own reason. As Anglicans we need all three legs of the stool !

    May I respectfully suggest that I think many conservatives err on the side of the absolute authority of Scripture because they’re more comfortable with the circularity of ITS authority (as you point out) than with the circularity of their own individual reason as ITS own authority (when that reason decides what in Scripture is of man and what is of GOD). Mired as my own reason is in self-interest etc, I wouldn’t want to put it in charge of that “ferreting.”

    Personally I think “liberals” (pardon the label, but we must use shorthand) give short shrift to this personal humility that undergirds much of “conservative” deference to Scripture.

  21. Rick Says:

    LASTLY, I want to compliment both PAUL and GLENN on the quality and relative patience of their exchanges here. But I have to agree with GLENN that tossing epithets like “false teacher” etc are not conducive to the civility of Christian public inquiry. Remember the world is watching gentlemen, and we want self-submission to be prominently on display for the sake of our witness . . .

  22. Glenn Gould Says:

    Rick and Paul,
    I would have posted a reply to Paul yesterday but was quite tired and did not even log on.

    I have not heard Bishop Henderson say a lot about homosexuality and the church. I have heard him say that all parts of TWR need to be observed. By that I took him to mean that while he supported the Lambeth resolution from 1998 saying that it found homosexuality to be incompatible with the teaching of scripture — he also supported those resolutions that called for listening, study, pastoral support (I do not have them in front of me) for homosexual persons.

    I believe that the clear and overriding teaching of Holy Scripture is to love God and love neighbor. It seems to me that if we are going to baptize homosexual persons and confirm them we’ve already made a statement about them being full members in good standing in Christ’s church. I don’t know but I’ll bet most of us, including our bishop, approve of baptizing and confirming homosexual persons.

    But of course, our bishop can speak for himself on the matter, and when he is ready, I’m sure he will do so.

    Rick, I’m afraid all three legs of the stool are more than a little shaky — without going back through church history to recite all the things both scripture and tradition have proclaimed as God’s will that they’ve been wrong about — I’m sure you will agree.

    And of course, even if one chooses to take the whole orthodox scriptural package — that is a human decision which may be equally subject to personal agendas, temperments, etc. No getting around the “sinful human” part of us.

  23. RICK Says:

    Reply to GLENN … as we all well know, the current crisis in our Church and Communion was NOT triggered by the baptism or confirmation of homosexuals. The trigger was/is the consecration as bishop of an unmarried sexually partnered person, and it is unhelpful to confuse the issue that is really dividing us. The fundamental issue this crisis has exposed (in my view) is neither the right of homosexuals to inclusion in the episcopacy nor the authority of Holy Scripture, but the NATURE of Christian communion, within which I trust both sides would agree what sets us apart from the watching world is mutual self submission.

    As Bishop (of Durham) Wright has publicly stated, the leadership of the Episcopal Church willfully violated the mind of our Communion as well as ignored subsequent explicit warnings from Canterbury. In a way it doesn’t matter WHAT the violation was/is. The point is that our communion’s precious spirit of self submission — part of what TWR called “a new way of being human” that Christ “launched upon the world” — has been blithely violated.

    Every other aspect of the crisis followed this refusal of our Church’s leadership to “give up their life to gain it,” “to lay down their life for the sheep,” “to become all things to all men,” ETC, ETC (as was largely done in the consensus eventually reached on the ordination of women, as TWR points out).

  24. Glenn Gould Says:

    Rick,
    The “precious spirit of self submission” as you have put it is but one way to think of communion. Sounds like the kind of thing the person wanting to be in control would say to the person whom they wish to control — submit to me — submit to us. Submitting to Jesus is one thing — we all should do that. If that’s what you mean by mutual submission then fine. Otherwise, not fine.

    I expect that there are as many shades and nuances of what communion means as there are people to expound them. That’s why we’re having this conversation — we’re talking about it trying to figure what we all signed on for as Anglicans in communion with one another and how to make it work. Your definition and mind are simply part of a larger conversation at this point.

    As to when the rift began, for some bishops it goes back to the 1979 BCP revision — too liberal for some. For others it goes back to women’s ordination. For others it goes back to allowing divorced and remarried people to receive communion. For others it goes back to bishops Pike and Spong not being disciplined by TEC for so called heresy. And of course there is the issue Paul and I were discussing — the authority of scripture and the correct interpretation of scripture. As you know many folks have been raised on a doctrine called sola scriptura which basically says you’ll find God’s truth in the Bible and only in the Bible — the closed “circular reasoning” system I described in an earlier post.

    At GC 2006 our church bent over backwards to comply with TWR as our bishop has pointed out. It was really a pointless gesture because our enemies in the communion — those who want a confessional communion (something ours has never been) made their position clear before GC 2006 for those who were paying careful attention and since GC 2006 they’ve made their position blatently clear. They want a 39th “theologically pure — the word Puritan comes to mind” province and are prepared to go to most any length to have it. While TEC leadershlp was trying to “be nice,” the Puritans were playing hardball.

  25. Glenn Gould Says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for your patience. I’m now referring to your last post. None of the verses you quoted in your previous post are false – they are all true if they are PROPERLY INTERPRETED. I believe all scriptures are inspired but some are more inspired than others. I believe that many of the ideas (teachings) of scripture are inspired by God. When God inspired the human authors (as our catechism puts it) He was still dealing with humans. Have you ever known of humans to get everything right? Certainly not. As long as God is using humans to write scripture, you’re going to get human thoughts right along with God’s. Your obligation is to discern the difference. God gave us brains; we are to use them.

    Our idea of apostolic succession has you and me in the same line as the original apostles – that’s part of the point. As you know, we apostles do not agree on all points of Christian teaching. I met a fellow in Tennessee who told me that KJV was the inspired version of scripture because their local prophet (who had never been wrong, he reported) had said so. I believe the acceptance of GLBT people is a teaching more in apostolic succession (closer to the teaching of Jesus) than those who teach that homosexuality is sin. The Bishop of Rome has claimed that infallible authority and it has gotten him in a world of trouble – it is foolish to believe than any human (save Jesus) has gotten it all right – even the 12 (whoops,.. 11 … Judas). The Bible makes it clear that they did not get it when they were in the presence of our Lord – do you expect the Holy Spirit to do better than the real live presence of Jesus?

    Creation is not silly it is sacred. However, to my way of thinking, modern day creationists have some patently silly ideas about creation. Did God create Adam and Eve? The story says, yes. But interpretation and analysis requires us to point out just a few things. Adam is the Hebrew word for mankind. That’s a clue that the human writer may be talking about more than just one fellow. The snake talks – another clue that you are reading a myth – a loaded story – but not an historical account. There are two separate creation stories with different details that are both present in Genesis – both were likely considered holy and so were included. There were many acts of creation combined into 7 days – suggesting that the human author (and maybe God) had an investment in a 7 day scenario – otherwise why not a separate day for each act of creation. To read the story as the creationists do is to deny some of the richness of the Biblical tradition. Those who have studied Genesis in far more depth than I ever have, believe that the writers were not even attempting to write science – they were writing about mankind’s relationship to creator – God as gracious and mankind from the “get go” rebellious and fallen. Is this the kind of “backup” you were asking for? Then, also as evidence against a young earth reading of Genesis, we could turn to the various scientific disciplines which give us an old earth.

    There are many fine people who believe homosexuality is a sin. At this point in TEC the belief that homosexuality is a sin is a minority opinion – it’s all opinion. There are more TEC bishops who believe as I do (among them the PB and PBE) than those who agree with Lambeth 1.10. So far for the most part the disagreeing bishops (with certain notable exceptions) are disagreeing without being disagreeable. I am very proud of the way our TEC leaders (and our bishop is indeed a TEC leader) have conducted themselves.

  26. Chip Edgar Says:

    I am the AMiA priest mentioned above in Dennis Lowe’s post. I don’t follow this blog, but it was called to my attention that I had been mentioned by name.

    I don’t know Dennis Lowe that well, we had lunch together once. Suffice it to say I can’t agree with his assessment that the controversies of late are “not much.”

    The purpose for my venturing in here is to correct his badly mistaken charge that, “You have done nothing whatsoever to reach out to your hurting Anglican cousins. Fr. Chip Edgar, the rector of the AMiA church only a few blocks from your cathedral, had an extremely serious health problem arise in the last year. At a time when pastoral care and Christian love could have been, should have been offered, you did nothing. Shame on you all.”

    I wish Dennis had checked facts before he hurled accusations. In fact, very many in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina have been kind to us during the past few months: Canon Clevenger has been gracious and assured us of his prayers; several clergy, Rob Brown, Fletcher Montgomery and Sean LeBlatt (to name a few) reached out to us with generous concern; and dozens of Episcopal lay people brought us meals while we were unable to attend to ourselves. Know that all such generosities were deeply felt and greatly appreciated.

    That Bp Henderson has a strong ecclesiastical opinion about the regularity of my orders and the validity of my ministry is to be expected, and in no way should be confused with a lack of charity on his part. I trust that Canon Clevenger’s kind gestures towards us were known to him and, if not blessed, certainly not prohibited. Unless Bp Henderson has actually done or said uncharitable things, that he has voiced strong opinions on significant ecclesiastical matters cannot be charged as an offense against Christian charity.

    These are hard days in the life of the communion and unhelpful stones thrown do nothing to make them any easier.

    Blessings,
    Chip Edgar+

  27. Dennis Lowe Says:

    I did check facts as best I could, as I am now outside the diocesan information flow. My recent e-mail reply to Pastor Chip may help in some small way, and I add it below.

    I apparently spoke from greatly out-of-date information, and regret any harm or injury my words caused.

    I am greatly heartened to see these two fine parts of the one church talking to each other openly and honestly.

    ————————-

    “Chip, I’m very sorry for the misunderstanding, and my lack of information. For a year, I’ve been checking in with the former Ecumenical Relations officer, as well as his proposed replacement, and heard nothing of what you’re telling me.

    I certainly didn’t mean to cast aspersions on you. You have been nothing but open and friendly to me, despite our theological differences.

    My apologies to the diocese, as well.”

  28. Glenn Gould Says:

    Chip+ and Dennis,
    Thanks to both of you for your postings. You have both resolved this misunderstanding in a way that brings credit to you both and to our Lord. Such examples are all to rare. Blessings on you both.

  29. KENT Says:

    REPLY TO GLENN GOULD’s Oct 18/12:06 am post:

    It appears that submitting ourselves in love to each other is another casualty of convenience, a boon of your confidence in being able to discern for yourself what is of God and what is of man in Scripture. Did Christ mean turn our cheeks to Him when we’re unjustly attacked? Are we to love only God as we love ourselves? Did the Amish turn their backs on the killer’s family after the brutal murders of their children a few weeks ago? Or is St. Paul commending love towards Christ in the immortal 13th chapter of the first Letter to the Corinthians? By no means!

    A yielding love towards others (especially between believers) is not part of a control structure or a “conversation . . . to figure out what we all signed on for as Anglicans” (as you put it). Clothing ourselves in the love of Christ in our disputes with others is the only thing that can change this broken world. This is the new law of Love that Christ came to “launch upon the world,” as RICK quoted. Can we love each other perfectly and constantly within communion? By no means.

    But imagine if in 2003 General Convention had declined to approve the election of Gene Robinson on the stated grounds that this would violate “the bonds of affection” within communion. Or if Gene Robinson himself had withdrawn from the election on the same explicit grounds. THAT is the kind of submission that gets the attention of a cynical world, friend Glenn.

  30. Glenn Gould Says:

    I’m not sure whether to start with the OT prophets, St. Paul, the apostles, or the Lord Himself in citing examples that hardly appeared submissive in seeking justice and in boldly proclaiming the love of God.

    I’m respectfully disagree; the call for submission from one human being to another (in a religious context) is usually a “dipped in holy water” request to “do it my way.”

  31. Glenn Gould Says:

    Kent,
    The above post was obviously a response to yours. I believe that the submissive love your call for is occasionally an inspired response to a situation — no doubt about that. It is a response that needs to be held in tension with the gospel’s admonitions to “boldly proclaim.” Sometimes bold proclamation ruffels a few feathers — but sometimes is is an inspired response to a situation.

  32. KENT Says:

    Yes Glenn, if you insist on seeing the crisis in our communion as a poliltical struggle and not a spiritual tragedy, and if you demand justice in a way that shatters the crucial witness of our holiness and unity as a Christian communion (something Christ and the Apostles never did as they sought justice in the examples you cite), then we must agree to disagree. Peace be with you, brother.

  33. Jack Hardaway Says:

    In light of that biblical text, I think the declaration of impaired communion is to just restate the state of the world, the same old same old thing. Disunity is the norm. Communion is ultimately the miracle of Christ’s presence and visitation. To say that I am in impaired communion is to say that I need Jesus, I need the miracle of the Gospel that breaks up the same ole same ole disunity…
    However, I don’t think whoever makes declarations of impaired communion has this text in mind. They have the texts in mind that are of broken relationships, scripture is full of those, just like life today. The text our bishop has chosen is a text of communion restored. Notice how it comes down to God’s grace interupting our mess. Good choice of texts. I like happy endings.

  34. KENT Says:

    TO FATHER HARDAWAY . . . The mystical consolations of communion you invoke are to provoke us to ACTION in a broken world. Christ’s life and teaching show us in word and deed that the world will indeed continue in chaos and disunity (as you say) until it begins to experience human actions that are intentionally unselfish, directed wholly to the good of the other.

    I’ve been claiming in this thread that the penultimate loving action God commends to us in Scripture (and exemplified in the actions of His own life among us in/as/through Christ Jesus) is self submission of our own interests and agendas for the sake of our neighbor. Since we the Body of Christ are the leaven and agents of this loving action in the world, it’s crucial that the world see this kind of self submission practiced between ourselves in communion. This is what I believe Christ meant in His prayer to the Father that we might be one so the world may believe (John 17:20 ff). Christ’s command that we turn the other cheek is not a metaphor!

    The main problem I think GLENN (for example) has with radical self-submission is that (in the context of the current crisis within our communion) it could paradoxically delay justice for homosexuals, whom we rightly deem the despised, rejected and oppressed strangers of our day, those whom God’s Word especially commends to our protection. But I’m provoking readers to consider/explore/debate here whether our mutual self submission in communion before the watching world is foundational, the necessary and primary condition (our credibility?) of bringing justice to homosexuals.

  35. Pamela Monahan Says:

    My family in Christ–
    Please step back for a moment.
    Pray to God for peace and understanding.
    Personally, I do not know where I stand on the issues of homosexuality. Nor does it mater to me that I don’t because I have prayed to God and he has not instilled in me a burning desire on either issue. I take my lead from God himself, in his communications with me through the Holy Spirit. Does that mean I disregard scripture? Not at all but find that the more I read the Scripture the more I understand God and the clearer the Spirit’s message to my own life becomes. It’s still vague, but it is clearer. Does this also mean that I disregard tradition? Not at all, but instead find the more I practice traditions– like the Eucharist– and the more I learn about my family in Christ before me the more I grow in my communion with God. Does this mean I disregard reason? No, but I do not define reason in a secular context. As a member of the Body, the head I need think with is Christ’s own. That does not mean I don’t think for myself. But I try, though I often forget, to give Christ a chance to express his desire for all my actions before I choose my own action, path, or interpretation. I pinpoint these three (scripture, tradition, and reason) because they are the legs of the three legged stool of Anglicanism.
    To me this debate, in this and the Bishop’s other invitational blog, are all about divisions.
    Can a hand detach itself from the wrist and connect to the hip because the wrist and it don’t have the same function? Or my favorite comparison: are not a hand and a stomach members of the same body? Yet if a hand held acid or a stomach threw a baseball the results would be disastrous. When a hand tries to be stomach and ceases to function as a hand the body (and the stomach) will starve because the hand will not bring food to the mouth. If a stomach tried to be a hand well, you can imagine that contaminants would enter the body, etc.
    Does this mean that as members of the body we do not have anything in common? Of course not. We have the same blood pumping through us, and are all connected to the same system of nerves that bear the message of the Head, that is Christ. I would define the blood as those thing directed by the Head to be spread– such as the gospel, and the traditions especially baptism and communion. The nerves is The Holy Spirit– that which communicates with us directly from the Head that is Christ.
    Do you not remember John 17? The prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed for us to be one with him and the Father. And yet here we sit not only dividing the church but even each other. Are we so naive as to think we have to be the same to be one? I think a body is a good comparison because if you look at your body it is “one” unit but if you compare parts of it they are not the same.
    I am not commenting to prove anyone wrong or to take sides at all. Jesus said “I chose you”. I did not chose you to be my brothers, but Jesus did. It is not for me to say you are unfit for that role.
    That doesn’t mean that, in this specific instance of the Anglican communion conflict, that there isn’t considerations to be taken up. After all the stomach and the hand are both part of the body but they only work together indirectly, not directly. If they had eyes most hands and most stomachs would never lay eyes on one another. This conflict, if you forget the issues and go to the core of the conflict, is about deciding how the Body is aligned. Is the Episcopal church directly connected to the rest of the Anglican communion in a “the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone” kind of way or has the Episcopal church become indirectly linked so that for the Anglican communion and the Episcopal church to work directly together be as unnatural as a stomach throwing a baseball? I am not informed enough to answer this question at this time, and in all honestly I don’t know if I ever will. I have feeling that we only do have the view of the body part we are. Meaning that if we are the hand we have no reason to understand the function of the stomach and therefore deny its usefulness and vice versa. We can only trust in the Head from which our direction comes and rely on Him to know how to take care of His body.
    I ask you: how much time to you talk about these issues with your fellow mortals compared to how much you discuss it with God? God grants wisdom to all who ask, but in order to get it you must be in contact with him. If the nerves tell the hand “HOT STOVE” but the hand isn’t listening it will get burned. That’s what we call uncoordinated. 🙂 And if the message is “put that food in the mouth” but the hand thinks “food nourishes, why should I give that nourishment away?” not understanding that if the digestive system doesn’t get the food the hand too will starve, even though the food is in its possession.” And by that illustration I merely mean to say the sometimes God asks us to do things we cannot comprehend, but we must trust that he knows what is best for us. That is what faith is about, believing God is with us, that God will direct us, that God will “never forsake” us.
    But when the body parts squabble amongst each other without listening to the nerves then the whole body ceases to function and we weaken the body, making it prey to whatever disease or enemy wishes to take it down.
    And honestly, just thinking personally, you realize you are “the head” of that flesh and blood body you occupy, right? You don’t think of the hand as the decision making one, do you? That body, instead belongs to you. You try to take care of it as best you can I’m sure, to keep it highly functioning, but you don’t think of yourself belonging to it but the other way around.
    Likewise we are not living as separate entities anymore. We are part of the body, and we are the possession of God. He, in his perfection, will care for us.
    I do not mean this to be as harsh as I’m afraid it sounds. I mean this article on both a local and a global scale. When I say the Creed I am not believing only in my parish when I say “catholic church”. I am not believing only in my diocese or only in the Episcopal Church. Nor am I only believing in the Anglican communion. I am confessing that everyone whom Jesus has chosen is part of the Church. For I have no more a right to decide who should be in the Body than my thumb gets to decide if my toe stays on my foot.
    So instead of saying “you aren’t following God” I instead plead that we only turn our hearts, our mind, our souls, our strength to loving and obeying God. I fully and completely believe if every single Christian on Earth would do the Body would be unified in a day. After all if I said to one of you “you aren’t following God because God has told me to fast during Lent and this Lent you didn’t fast” or some other issue than I might be the stomach saying to the hand “you’re not following God because God told me to corrode the food and break it down with acid” then instead of helping the Body function, though well meaning, I would be instead hampering it.
    God’s function to me, He himself has revealed, is to help unify the Body of Christ. That alone is why I feel I can write this comment to all of you. It is for this purpose I was created, just as the stomach was created to digest. So do not think me a hypocrite for advising you, for instead I am trying to do what I am preaching. I listen to God and from Him I found my purpose as a unifier and am putting it to practice. I hope and pray for all of you that if you have not found your purpose in this body that you will and that if you have you will adhere to it (and we all make mistakes, myself included). And do not think I am saying we should just isolate each other and not communicate! That is not it at all. For while I say that we all must keep our eyes on Christ, we are bonded to each other. If the wrist turns the hand will as well. If it does not, there will be a sprain or a breaking of the bone. We are completely connected and communication is very important, we just must put more weight on God than each other– hence the First and second great commandments.
    I love you all, please know this! My message tonight comes not from self righteousness but from love for this body which is fighting itself. For this is the KEY to unity: “Love each other”!!!!

    God Bless,
    Pam
    PS. To the Bishop: sorry for getting off topic. I love you too and I am glad you are offering the opportunity to expression to us.

  36. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Our Lord Jesus was oppressed, abused, spit upon, beaten, abandoned and crucified. He did not have to bear this humiliation, but he emptied himself (kenosis) and calls us to do the same. Those who consider themselves to be badly treated should recall that the servant is not greater than the Master.

    Homosexuality is not a sin. Homosexual acts are sinful, but so are heterosexual acts that violate God’s design. Why aren’t the equally destructive sins of gossip, slander, false witness and blasphemy at the forefront of this debate? Here we have a culturally conditioned conflict arising out of a sex obsessed society.

  37. Philip G Says:

    Glenn, when you say “Christians are no more or less welcome than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, humanists, and atheists. It is God’s table and he says we’re all welcome.” I wonder why you think that atheists will present themselves at the table?

    By definition, they do not believe in God. Why would they do so, while in a state of atheism? For them, that seems to be as productive an activity, as pounding sand.

    Finally, intellectual honesty requires IMO, that to call oneself a Christian implies rather clearly, that one has to believe in the Christian message expounded by the Gospels, the teachngs of the saints and doctors of the church AND by the official rubrics of the denomination.

    If a person does not believe in the fullness of the Christian message, then they may be an atheist, an agnostic, or a member of another faith group, BUT, in no way can such a one be considered a Christian.

    Why then, would such a person want to attend, much less be invited to attend, the Eucharist?

  38. Glenn Gould Says:

    Phillip G, thanks for your post. I give the widest latitude to the Spirit of God. “The wind blows where it will.”

    My own experience many years ago is that while I was in a mostly unbelieving frame of mind I was drawn to church and to the lord’s table. At the time I was an even more sorry excuse for a believer than I am now … but I was drawn, led to be where I thought I would never be. And I was changed … I’m one of those changed lives.

    As to having to believe a lot of Christian doctrine in order to be a Christian … I’d never venture a guess as to who the true Christians are, that’s God’s business as Jesus reminded those who worried about “who can be saved.”

    From our Lord we hear, “Follow me, love God, and love neighbor.” I think we’ve added on a lot. I think his basics are foundational and therefore important. I wonder about the rest.

  39. KENT Says:

    REPLY TO PAM … I completely agree we have not loved each other as a communion in this crisis. The Windsor Report’s call us as a Church to do just that by respecting the order of our catholic faith. Our “liberal” (national) leadership gives lip service to our catholicity, but then will not put it into practice by “giving up their lives to gain it.” For love, as we know, is an ACTION.

  40. Philip G Says:

    Glenn, I appreciate your reply. It am puzzled by one thing you wrote, which is:

    “As to having to believe a lot of Christian doctrine in order to be a Christian … I’d never venture a guess as to who the true Christians are, that’s God’s business as Jesus reminded those who worried about “who can be saved.”

    First, I’ll agree with your statement that chosing the saved, is indeed God’s job. That sort of work is WAY above my pay grade. My work in life, is to present myself for that judgement in a state as absent of habitual sin as I am able.

    That said though, my puzzlement remains from what you wrote in the first part of the paragraph. How can you be a Christian, if you do not believe those things which define a Christian?

    Christianity, indeed any faith tradition, is not a matter of birth, such as cradle national citizenship. Full, practicing, adult Christianity is (or should be) a matter of choice, of study and acceptance of the Gospels, the dogma, the rubrics, the enlightened stody of the church doctors.

    To me, to be a Christian cannot be a matter of a smorgasbord selection of only what we want, while ignoring those things which fly in the face of our own, sinful lives. As has been said in other settings, you can’t be a little bit pregnant and so too, you can’t be only a little bit Christian.

  41. Glenn Gould Says:

    Philip G,

    I don’t know what God’s definition of Christian is. Do you?

    I know people who suggest creedal stuff, biblical stuff, BCP (usually baptismal) stuff. To unfairly characterize these views I imagine people with “true believer” punch cards. Virgin birth — check, pre-existent divinity of Jesus – check, bodily resurrection — check, homosexuality is sin, check … you get the idea. Then I unfairly characterize these card punchers as proclaiming, “I have the names of 10 card carrying non-believers in my possession” — kind of a modern day Christian McCarthyism — gives me the creeps. I don’t want to play that game.

    So who are the true Christians? God only knows. Is God looking for people who say that they sincerely believe stuff? Is that what it’s all about — you need to think like this brothers and sisters?

    Maybe the problem I have with church doctors, dogmas, rubrics, etc. is that it leaves idiots like me and many smarter than me with no hope? There’s just too much to understand that I don’t and I don’t think I ever will. The creeds may be 100% true but they are false in the sense that they represent less than .000007% of the mystery we call God (or any God worth worshipping).

    Or is God more interested in people who serve other people and sometimes sacrificially serve the common good (the whole human family) — an in so doing — knowingly or unknowingly are following Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God?

    Again, I don’t know … but I’m leaning to the doing and serving side of things in my old age. And long ago I burned my “true believer” punch card just like young people in the late 60’s burned their draft cards.

    In trying to clarify my position, I fear that I just muddy further.

  42. Philip G Says:

    Glenn, in answer to your post, “I don’t know what God’s definition of Christian is. Do you?” I would simply say that I receive that definition of a Christian from the Gospel, when Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

    Like you, I’m not smart enough to read, decipher, internalize, contemplate and finally understand all that Christianity has to offer. Knowing that therefore, the best I can know for sure, is that I AM a sinner. That much is clear to me, for I live within my skin and know when my thoughts and actions wander off the path.

    I also firmly believe that as I approach God in the moment of the Eucharist, a heartfelt act of contrition seems to be the least I can offer Him. I humbly admit my faults and promise that I will do all I can to avoid sin in the future. With prayer and the Grace offered through the Eucharist, I have a chance.

    Like you Glenn, I too am focussing more on doing and serving as I approach my 60th birthday. However, unlike you, I feel that there is too much wisdom stored up in the two millenia of Christianity, for me to jettison it in favour of my own will or a modern zeitgeist.

  43. Glenn Gould Says:

    Philip G:

    I’m right there with you (maybe that should scare you) every step of the way until I got to the word “jettison.”

    I have jettisoned the idea that homosexuality is a sin. Is that what you are referring to? I do that on the basis (as posted above, I think) of the love, justice, and inclusion passages in scripture outweighing the “clobber” passages. I also do so on the basis of things that we seem to be learning about people’s sexual orientation (a given which does allow some people to choose — depending on the strength of that orientation).

    I have jettisoned “young earth” and the creation “science” that accompanies that view.

    I have not jettisoned the creeds — I think, however, that they do represent the point of view of Christians in the early centuries. They are man made statements of belief. I do wonder out loud and in print of modern Christians would make the same statements in an effort to convey “good news” to modern people.

  44. KENT Says:

    TO GLENN …

    So you’re an “idiot” (your word) when it comes to “dogmas, rubrics,” creeds, etc (and identifying Christians) but then you’re a savant when it comes to figuring out what parts of GOD’s Word you can safely “jettison”? (*smile*)

  45. Glenn Gould Says:

    Kent:
    Smiling backatcha. I’m no savant — just the same idiot trying to figure out what makes sense to me.

    Talking snakes only make sense to me if we’re talking story. So I reject Archbishop Usher’s method of counting the “begat’s” backwards to figure out how old the earth is. He should have known he was reading story and not actual factuality. No “young earth” for me.

    Telling people that their sexual orientation makes them sinful also makes no sense to me — especially in light of the weight of scriptures loving, welcoming, accepting, inviting emphasis.

    Please don’t listen to me because in addition to being an idiot I’m really sinful.

    But do use that brain of yours to figure out what makes sense to you.

  46. KENT Says:

    TO GLENN … of course the whole point of a forum like this is to be heard … I don’t think anyone’s mind has been changed one iota by what they read here, because we’re all so eager to be heard … so I’ll be happy to count us both (with Paul) as “fools for Christ” … peace be with you …

  47. KENT Says:

    A final thought on our Bishop’s original question …

    His five suppositions all concern the communion we experience with the Risen Christ at His Table, to which He welcomes ALL equally in grace. But to me the Bishop’s query is about what we DO with that grace to sustain a VISIBLE unity before a world that waits to see the Church fail.

    Should justice for homosexuals (on our immediate terms) or even faithfulness to Scripture (again on our terms) be placed ahead of our unity, our witness? To coin a phrase, we must examine ourselves by asking in utmost seriousness, “What would Jesus [have us] DO?”


  48. […] A Great Thread of Comments Over At Bishop Henderson’s Blog Filed under: Uncategorized — descant @ 7:44 am Read them all. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: