Saturday, 9 July 2005

weekend thoughts

Theo Hobson writes in the Guardian about A carnival of Christianity

The dominant trend of contemporary Christian theology might be called ecclesiastical fundamentalism. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is the conceptual primacy of “church”. Postmodern theology explains that this religion is not an abstract system but a set of actual practices, performed (a crucial word) by various churches. Such is the current theological orthodoxy.

This evades the crisis at the heart of “church”. All forms of church define a Christian as one who belongs to this special society. In practice, that means accepting the authority of a particular institution. An institution must have rules; it must promote an orthodoxy and exclude people who want to think or behave differently. The problem is that Christianity is about a vision of total peace, of universal brother- and sisterhood. It is meant to oppose authoritarianism, legalism and exclusion. Was not the kingdom of God announced by Jesus betrayed by authoritarian institutions?…

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Pottering round old churches

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times on the London bombings, Terrorism dishonours any cause which it claims to represent

Johann Hari wrote this, originally in the Independent but now available on his blog, The attacks on London - and the battles to come

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 12:33pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

The concept (and indeed the reality) of church necessarily rests on various more basic realities, e.g. the Holy Spirit & salvation, which in turn presuppose atonement, which in turn presupposes Christ, which in turn presupposes God.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 2:56pm BST

"Let Britain's Christians stop waiting for the Church to do something fresh. Easter Day 2006 will take place in Hyde Park - you heard it here first - where there will be drumming, dancing, parades."

Theo Hobson's piece is very interesting, but still doesn't go deep enough. What he's calling for sounds a lot like the "Christian Woodstocks" that we have here on the west side of The Pond.

Oh, there's drumming and dancing, alright . . . but scratch the surface, and it's the same 'ol/same 'ol underneath: "Everybody must buy into Brandname-Jesus God, or Go to Hell!"

Far too many "Christians" have values which are antithetical to the *Christ of the Gospels*: until their HEARTS are changed---and "Jesus" becomes something more than a brandname to them---any "public festival" they might have will best be accompanied by brown shirts and outstretched-arm salutes. :-(

[Please start by changing *my* heart, Lord!]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Sunday, 10 July 2005 at 5:04am BST

Theo Hobson wrote: "....This evades the crisis at the heart of “church”. All forms of church define a Christian as one who belongs to this special society. In practice, that means accepting the authority of a particular institution. An institution must have rules; it must promote an orthodoxy and exclude people who want to think or behave differently. The problem is that Christianity is about a vision of total peace, of universal brother- and sisterhood."

No it is not !! Theo Hobson is making the common liberal mistake of projecting his (I assume) assumptions onto christianity. Hasn't he read what Jesus said:

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn" 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw— a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

AND

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


The trouble is, of course, that humanists don't understand the concepts of sin, sinfulness, or self-denial.
.

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 10 July 2005 at 6:49pm BST

I think peace and universal brotherhood are a good deal mnore valuable than inaccurate and misleading conservative proof-texting.

Its hard to see the bigger picture when you can't see the message for the superstitious supernaturalism.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 11 July 2005 at 12:40am BST

Mike, I'm not inaccurate or misleading in my interpretation of Scripture. And I don't think it behoves someone who claims to represent IC to write off Scripture and 2000 years ot Christian tradition as "superstitious supernaturalism".

Is that all the respect you can muster; or couldn't you care less ?

Posted by: Dave on Monday, 11 July 2005 at 6:58pm BST

Oh come on, Dave: everyone who ISN'T a Fundy knows that the "ink is still wet" on Matt. 28:18-20 (Disciples of "all nations"? Baptism in the Trinitarian Formula? Give me a break! Jesus of Nazareth didn't *say* it: the Early Church stuck it in his mouth!).

That said, I can still joyfully affirm it . . . but NOT in a "make the heathen quit being heathen, and Buy into Brandname-Jesus God" kind of way (that being the type of Anglicanism---so-called---which has done so much damage in the Global South).

(And the "sword" of Matt. 10: 34 is a *metaphor*, meant to cut away EVERYTHING which gets in the way of Loving God/Loving Neighbor-as-Self. An "EVERYTHING" which may come to include the Anglican Communion, I might add!)

This side of the Pond, I'm used to hearing this kind of Fundamentalist "Don't confuse me w/ the facts, my mind's made up" . . . well, "superstitious naturalism" is one name for it.

It's just shocking, to me, that someone purporting to be an *Anglican* (You know, ANGLICANISM? The Christian Tradition where you DON'T have to check your brain at the door?) could repeat this . . . stuff.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 12 July 2005 at 6:50am BST

So J. C. Fisher and Merseymike think that 'supernaturalism' (presumably belief in the miracles of the Gospel, the Incarnation and the Resurrection?) is superstitious. You are of course entitled to your unbelief, but since these are integral elements of the Anglican Christian faith (and the foundations for the dogmatic affirmations we make about Jesus of Nazareth) which you cannot accept, why do you bother with this church? An adult who beleived as little as you wouldn't be accepted for baptism. I really do think you are much better suited for the MCC.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Tuesday, 12 July 2005 at 5:46pm BST

Why do I "bother"? Because "this church" is MY church---my place in the Body of Christ: God, do I love it! (Sorry to disappoint, Martin! And as far as "integral elements" go, that's integral to *you*. It's your fundamentalist propositions that I hold as superstition, not your---or anyone's---faith in Christ)

When people ask me about my faith, I tell them. Feel free to believe it or not (or even diss it as "unbelief") . . . but I don't have to justify it to you (my justification comes *solely* through Christ). [OK, OK: if *my bishop* calls me on the carpet, then . . . ;-/]

As Louie Crew says, "I can profess the Creed, and pass a lie detector test: I rejoice that I belong to a Church where such a test is not necessary"

. . . um, didn't used to be, anyway (Praise Christ, we still take all comers in ECUSA! :-D)

[JCF: royally-priested, 27 May 1962. Alleluia!]

As far as the MCC goes: when they see the light of the historic episcopate ("locally-adapted", as per the Quad), and the Mass (preferably w/ BCP language . . . and not so happy-clappy! *g*) every Sunday, I might consider it . . . but for now, I'd much rather make 'em all Anglicans!

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Wednesday, 13 July 2005 at 4:58am BST

Woo ! Preach it, JCF !

One of the primary reasons I'm an Episcopalian is that I *don't* have to justify my faith or belief to Martin, Dave, Christopher or any, other human. It's between God and me. Period.

If I WANTED a confessional church, there're plenty to choose from here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt (Texas)... but I DON'T.

Posted by: David Huff on Wednesday, 13 July 2005 at 7:35pm BST
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