Friday, July 06, 2007
BB NOTE: The Presiding Bishop is at it again.
Now she's tackling why the heck we have missionaries or why the heck we are committed to evangelism, or why the heck anyone should seek to be baptized - heaven's to betsy - but believe me, it has nothing to do with the saving of the human soul or being redeemed or eternal life. Heck no.
In fact, it has nothing to do with heck, er, hell and everything to do with just being nice. Just be nice. La di da. No sign of martyrs or preaching the Gospel in season and out, or prison, or sacrifice, or going where angels fear to tred, or even just picking up one's cross and, well, any sort of that icky stuff. And let's not talk about rowdy stuff like conversion, parish, er perish the thought, because it's so, well - rude. After all, no one needs to be converted to go to a tea party.
This is indeed "tea cup evangelism" - and baptism is just some sort of "initiation rite," like flying up in Girl Scouts. No one wants to be forced to be a Girl Scout, after all. Sometimes we just try out Brownies and call it a day. Or perhaps it is more like a tea party and anyone who is sensible will know we have the best tea in town. So be nice about it - and share your tea bags.
It's in that sort of spirit that we find Katharine Jefferts Schori giving the old send-off to missionaries and talking about The Great Commission - which turns into some sort of Miss Manners Moment. This is quite a contrast to this guy giving his two cents worth for missionaries, or this guy, or even this guy, or this woman, and while we're at it how about this woman, or even this guy - but oh, what the hell. We're sending a carton of Earl Grey posthaste to ElfGirl, where ever she may be.
So take your tea cup, don't smash it, mind your manners, and remember to fold your napkin in your lap.
Here's an excerpt. You can read the rest here.
UPDATE: You can read more about "Belching the Gospel" here.
Should we, shall we, impose that on those who do not fully desire it? Maybe it would be helpful to recognize that baptism is not the goal, but rather relationship with God (or discipleship). We understand that to be a relationship in God's Word, whom we call Christ. Our evangelical work has more to do with the gracious recognition of God already at work in the world about us than it does with imposing our will on others. When Jesus says "make disciples," that has a great deal to do with inviting others into relationship with the God we know, particularly as we know God in Christ. I do not believe it has anything to do with forcible or manipulative conversion. It has more to do with showing and telling, through word (Word) and deed, what it is like to know the gift of that relationship -- to demonstrate the unutterable attractiveness of that relationship so that another can not imagine anything more desirable. I do not believe it has anything to do with instilling or playing on human fear (which is, after all, one of the things we renounce in baptism). How might our evangelical work be different if we began with the disciple-making part (the befriending we know in Jesus) rather than counting coup in numbers of baptisms achieved? It is the latter that has given evangelism a bad name through the ages. My sense is that our evangelical work is likely to be more gracious if we focus on how our own lives exemplify the actions we claim in baptism -- washing, forgiving, welcoming, demonstrating Holy Spirit, entering into communion, living as a holy one of God. Our very lives can be baptism, living water, new life born out of death, to those around us ...
LATER: Contrast what Katharine Jefferts Schori says about evangelism with what this young English clergyman said last April. Why Jesus brings peace as nothing - and no one - else can.