Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Humility, Grace and Freedom
Dr Joseph Cassidy of St Chad’s College, Durham gave a talk on the place of humility and grace within the Anglican Communion, to the Inclusive Church day conference held at St Matthew’s Westminster on 22 September.
The full text of his talk can be found here.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 11:09pm BST
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Humility, Grace and Freedom......and Truth too?
Sorry, but we always have to come back to what is true. If Lambeth 1.10 is wrong that certain behaviour is "incompatible with scripture", we should ditch or subordinate it as suggested ....but if it is right, then we cannot ignore scriptural truth on the grounds of humility, grace or Freedom.
A wonderful wonderful talk. But -
“We can only put that question to gay Christians with integrity if the rest of the Church is willing to act as sacrificially as we are calling others to act - which means, I think, that the Church has to be willing to abide by the answer gay people will give to such a request...
...I say this because it may be supremely difficult for those who have been excluded to sanctify their continued exclusion by accepting this as a cross to be borne, as God's will for them for the time-being.”
I’m finding this a challenging statement.
At the moment, we’re not actually excluded from the church. There are gay people at all levels of the church, they just happen to be in the closet.
Is he requesting that all these people now out themselves and then consider to agree to an exclusion that goes beyond what is already happening?
And what does it mean for me personally to assent to exclusion: am I no longer to go to church until the church has made up its mind about me? Or am I excluding myself from receiving communion? At what level does my exclusion begin?
The other difficulty I have is that at a deep level all the talk of “walking apart” and “exclusion”, has always struck me as siblings squabbling, saying “you’re not my sister any longer”. You can choose to ignore your sister, but you cannot, in a real sense, stop her from being your sister.
If we are all one in Christ, then the rest is posturing. We cannot, in a meaningful way, exclude each other from that body, even if both sides agree to it. It’s simply not ours to give or demand.
Thanks for the chuckle! What is it about humility? Are you offended by it? Afraid of it? Scornful of it? Do you feel humility makes you weak? That perhaps if you behave humbly towards others, you might either allow them to fall into Eternal Damnation or might be a little too permissive of their sins, either way ending up sentenced to Eternal Damnation yourself? Trust God, He tells us to be humble, so He's not going to punish you for being humble. You know He won't punish you for obeying Him, so don't be afraid.
Just a correction, NP. You talk about your opinion as if it is truth. It isn't.
Indeed, conservative views about so-called scriptural 'truth' are themselves simply opinions which non-conservatives do not share.
Ford - did I say I had a problem with humility?
(clue: the answer is no)
But you have not affirmed that truth is just as (if not more) important.
I can imagine Galatian Ford telling Paul that he had no right to say harsh things about anybody....it is just not humble and so self-unaware etc etc
Truth matters and your "clobber verses" matter, Ford
I liked towards the end of Cassidy's sermon, where he talked about the unilateral nature of grace. Also that covenants that come from God are inclusive by their nature to whomever group they are offered, and that while souls might be disobedient to those covenants, the intents and desires of God to honor the honorable continue.
God is faithful, even if men are not. God is patient, even if men are not. God forgives, even if men will not. God provides shelter, even where men do not. God loves, even when men refute.
Matthew 12:33-37 Jesus challenges accusers "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Look at the history of TA. There are those for whom every posting contains accusations without mercy or advocate repression without remorse. Who are indifferent to covenants of peace and condone tyranny. Who deceitfully read the bible ignoring whole tracts and denying the veracity of others. Who gloat of their successes in this world and deny the existence of consciousnesses beyond Jesus outside of this world.
By their own words, they demonstrate that they lack the fruit of loving Spirit. They might see "in Spirit" but it is not the Spirit of Grace, not the faithful love as promised to David.
I was very impressed by Canon Cassidy's talk -- those Jesuits are very clever even when they are former Jesuits, I guess (& I speak as a Benedictine, an order that has been at odds with the Jesuits from their beginnings).
Of course as a "Catholic," he is simply not on the same wavelength as the sectarian impulse of Protestantism -- who was it who said that Catholicism means, "Here comes everyone!"?
I'm afraid that the language of God wants this and God wants that, or does not want - e.g. "If God chooses not to reveal X or Y as clearly as we might like, it's no doubt because God prefers not to..." - just passes me by.
He's right about the American view of gay and lesbian inclusivity touches a nerve in American experience about having it the other way around - exclusion. He is right about biblical exceptions having been made, and grading acceptance of such exceptions, though again this distinction between matters apparently about salvation and those of a faith of the time is, for me, an artificial distinction.
Like it or not, when a culture changes the use of a text to marginalise people (that fitted in with much else) becomes exposed, and this is what is happening now. I don't know what theological gloss wants to be put on that.
As well as freedom for The Episcopal Church to experiment, he asks: "I do also wonder whether there's enough spiritual freedom in the Church to be drawing up covenant documents at this time."
Obviously there isn't, not for that kind of Covenant. The point of a Covenant is that as it has grounds for including so they are grounds for excluding. If the Covenant includes on the broadest possible basis then there is no point having one.
We have those who state that the scriptures have been completely fulfilled and are not open for new interpretations. (Sulk, apparently, they are open for editorial cuts which is why women are still under a curse despite Jesus' crucifixion).
We have others who state that the scriptures are evolving and that God sends prophets to help souls appreciate conflicting paradigms and highlight which paths will lead to healthy peaceful lives with abundance, versus those that will lead to disease tyranny death and poverty.
There are examples in the bible where things are deferred to a future time, e.g. God telling Daniel and John to seal up their scrolls, Paul having to settle for feeding souls milk rather than solids. Peter’s referrals to mysteries being kept secret for future times e.g 1 Peter 1:10- 12 “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing … Even angels long to look into these things.”
Jesus often made statements along the lines of Matthew 19:11-12 “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Without grace, some things just can’t be accepted e.g. Luke 7:29-30 "All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John."
John 3:11-21 "…we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?... Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed..."
A word search using “revealed” brings up some great NT tracts. For souls who want to think about how God does new things and transmutes covenants into something better, you would be hard pressed to find better tracts than Hebrews 7 to 10:18.