"None of this would have been possible "had we not been able to speak openly and listen respectfully" said Howson. There were moments on the Commission when we strained, really, really strained in hearing each other. But the seriousness of the task did press us into some very close quarters. (Still)..we discovered that it was never insurmountable, this challenge of DOING THEOLOGY TOGETHER". (my caps)
- ACofC General Synod per 'Anglican Journal' -
I highlighted the above words 'doing theology together' specifically to emphasize what has NOT been done generally in many parts of the Anglican Communion to date. If only the Global South (and other conservative Churches) had taken heed of the Lambeth call to LISTEN to LGBT persons; on their experience of spirituality in their situation, there may have been a much more enlightened debate and process of acceptance within the Communion than is now present.
One can only be thankful to the A.C.of Canada, and TEC, who have taken the claims of LGBT members of the Churches seriously, to the point where these two Churches have been able to listen to, and actually hear, and learn from, the experience of members of the Church who are 'different' - but still baptized into Christ, and therefore part of Christ's Body in the world.
This new re-formation of the Church's attitude towards a formerly marginalized, but very much present, section of the Church, has been long overdue. The justice and mercy of God in Christ has at last been revealed - by a prophetic and Godly movement within the Church in the United States and Canada - and nothing can quell that.
It's important to note, Ron, that by the testimony of these two Primate's Theological Commission members (who are on opposite sides of 'the issue'), in this particular instance the listening process went both ways.
I'm glad that there is a lot of discussion and critique going on about Vision 2019. My criticism of it is that it all looks very familiar; the national Church claims to be 'charting a new direction' but it looks very much like the old course, slightly tweaked. We are a church that is shrinking fast. If we are to reverse that trend and become more effective at the five marks of mission, we need to be intentional about doing all we can to change the Christendom DNA that views evangelism with suspicion. This will require a transformation of attitudes in all areas of our Church, and at the moment I don't see it happening. What I see is that ordinary Anglicans in the pews are desperately looking for a magical way of growing their congregations that does not involve them, at some point, in talking to their non-Christian friends about Jesus.
I do not care about the numbers game. All organized religions are undergoing a change in their population sizes and it will always go up and down depending on historical circumstances. I do not subscribe to Tim Chesterton's missionary zeal to talk to his non-Christian friends about Jesus. I think it is arrogant and presumptuous to "evangelize" in this manner. I prefer to "evangelize" by the way I live my life or by example. That, to me, is my greatest gift that I can give to my fellow human travelers on this good earth. I prefer to try to do what I think Jesus would do in loving and accepting others without judging them according to a prescribed and narrow set of rules. I do not think this is at odds with any example that Jesus gave us. It embarrasses me when Fundamentalist Christians invade the sacred spaces of other human beings by trying to force their particular views on how to be a disciple of Jesus. It makes me cringe and I do not believe this is a good way to "introduce" other human beings to my spirituality. I do not say this to demean or devalue those who believe otherwise. I say it to be honest and true to myself and to Jesus. I have always viewed Anglicans I have known as people who follow similar roads. This has been my personal experience with Anglican brothers and sisters that I know and I am a Vatican II Catholic. This new Anglican Fundamentalism is something I have seen in my own backyard as there are also Roman Catholic Fundamentalists especially since the papacy of John Paul II and now with Joe (Benedict) Ratzinger. This has set the Church back to the time of Trent and it is neither healthy nor in concert with the entire theology of the Second Vatican Council. Catholic Fundamentalism is weakening and most Catholics I know are fed up with the monarchical hierarchy model of Church with the corrupt top down system. The people of God have just about had all they are going to take of this imperial system and fundamentalism plays a significant role in the preservation and promotion of this very model. I believe this is being rejected as un-Christ like. So, I would not worry too much about shrinking numbers. The Church's population statistics have always gone up and down. I do view the kind of "evangelism" that Tim Chesterton seeks to promote with suspicion and I do not say this to be unkind. I say it to be honest and true to my own experience.
Chris, what do you know about the kind of evangelism I seek to promote? Given that I've never described it here, you seem to know an awful lot about it.
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