Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Serving up a slice of American Pie

Been watching the videos from the The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) soiree in Atlanta sponsored by the erstwhile Arcus Foundation (so much for actually having an open "conversation" - this political action event turned out to be overwhelmingly segregated, but then Maryland found that out recently as well).

Watching the videos from the SCLM is a  bit like watching a house on fire and the fire fighters have finally given up, just letting it burn to the ground.

As I watched the press conference, this classic song came to mind:



I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play.


Here is the SCLM Press Conference:



The self-congratulatory attitude of the speakers - not one holding a divergent view that perhaps the Episcopal Church is taking a careening turn over the theological cliff is given voice, speaks volumes.  So much for robust conversations.  This isn't a conversation, it's a political strategic action, but they are not alone.

Theo Hobson, writing in the Guardian focuses his attention on the rise of a liberal self righteous subculture, quite evident in TEC.  But even as we reflect on this, the warning the writer makes to liberals is worth soberly reflecting for other well-meaning groups as well.

Segregation by affinity, masked as inclusive conversations (and they are masks) appears so often to lead to a kind of cultic separatism, a kind of self-inflicted ghetto. I saw this happen in the charasmatic movement in the 80s, as well as the prolife movement in the 90s.  Even as we look on these videos from TEC, should we not also pause to consider whether other responses are just as segregated? Are we so confident in our position, that we fail to realize that humility has left the building?

If we truly resist encouraging robust conversations that are not just political techniques to move a particular agenda forward (whatever that issue may be) does this not signal that we are no longer confident that the Truth really does set us free?  It is for freedom Christ came to set us free - do we truly believe this is so?  What may sometimes feel like doubting does not mean that we are no longer are confident in Christ (in fact, Oswald Chambers wrote that doubt means we are thinking, and certainly doubt led to my conversion) but rather than we are humble to recognize that we don't actually know everything.  Daring to doubt means we are listening.

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast ...

Imagine if we gathered not because we are strong, but because we are weak.

32 comments:

Todd Skiles said...

UGH. I'd rather attend the Low Tridentine Mass without padded kneelers than have to listen to this. BOR-ING.

Todd Skiles said...

Clarification - I was listening to the video with the three NPR-type talking heads from TEC.

TLF+ said...

I kept thinking of a lyric from some guy from MN:

"Our Father would not like the way that you act, and you must realize the danger"

Lapinbizarre said...

Bless your heart, BB, but why, not being a member of TEC, do you give a d-mn?

BabyBlue said...

We are all in the same denomination.

RWK said...

It is perfectly acceptable for BB to care about what is happening because it is doing further damage to the global communion. The revisionists care for nothing but their agenda. The time will soon come in TEC, as has already happened with women's ordination, that the remaining "objectors" to the pro-homosexual agenda will be painted into moral corners by the revisionists - accept us in your parish - period.

The next logical step will be with the next Presiding Bishop, whom I am sure beyond a shadow of a doubt will be openly gay - it will be presented as a ceiling shattering prophetic action, but it will also be a desperate attempt to arrest the demographic death spiral of the organization.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a description of a town in the rust belt. The product they were once famous for is no longer produced in the defunct factory. The younger, more able population has fled in search of the essentials of life.

Those left behind are beyond reproductive age and they are hanging on because it is too frightening to move.

The town council proudly announces they are going to revitalize the town by taking all ordinances off the books. When people can act out who they truly are, the town will be known for its prophetic leaders and all will want to be part of it.

It's a new day!

Anam Cara said...

Listening to this I was reminded of something a friend has said. "The Holy Spirit has left The Episcopal Church." He thought this was the main reason the parish he belongs to had to vote to separate.

I heard at the end the comment that there had been wonderful worship at this meeting. And I wondered, quite honestly, just who they were worshiping. I am certain that they would say "Jesus."

But I doubt that it is the same Jesus I worship.

The God I worship says, "I change not." He calls homosexual acts an abomination. He says that we are also guilty if we encourage others in what is sin.

I think they are worshiping a different God, one they created in the image they desire. Their god does change. He now sees the things he called abomination both in Old and New Testaments as being okay. "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil" Is 5:20.

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But as a community, as the body of Christ we are to encourage one another and call each other to repentance - not say, "Oh, that's okay. I sin too, just differently. I don't want you to remind me of my sin, so I won't remind you of yours." This comes from a church that does nothing to bishops who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus - a basic tenet of Christianity! They are "inclusive" - ANYONE can belong; no one cares what they believe!

BB, I am glad that you are concerned about the salvation of others. We all SHOULD be praying for the people being led astray in TEC. I'm sure we don't do that enough. But I really do not see how you can say you are of the same denomination, saying that you are in union/communion with someone who is worshiping a God that you don't recognize. Why, why would you want to claim communion with them any more than you would with a Muslim, Wiccan, or a Mormon. They also worship "God" - but they define "God" differently. The Mormons claim a different Jesus from the one we know - he is the spirit brother of Satan! The Jehovah's Witnesses talk about Jesus, but their Jesus is not God. The Christian Scientist has a unity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit but their Jesus, although called Messiah, is not God. You have said often that words have meanings. And yet you refrain from asking people to define who they worship - tell me about your Jesus, your God. Is he the same as theirs? Is He identical to the Jesus that this committee was worshiping? If he is, why the differences in the teachings?

Isn't that what TEC is doing now? Defining a god that you know nothing about? A god who thinks and acts differently from the god you have always known and loved? Do you really think that you are in complete unity with someone who disavows what you believe and says something radically different? If you do, it makes me wonder what you think "communion" is and means.

John said...

How easy it is to show a video and then criticize the same.
What if we Episcopalians showed a video of Bishop Anderson and criticized it. There is so much to criticize I am lost for words.
In this season of reflection I think we should stop and think before we criticize other Christians.
In case you did not get the message. It is CRITICIZE

John said...

On the personal level we are friends with many who left our TEC church for greener pastures and have no qualms in praying and worshiping with them but when I read all these negative comments about other Christians my blood boils.

John said...

I should stop and meditate.

In our church we have just started a discussion on Benedictine principles.

Carolyn said...

More to the point, Lapin, is why do you give a d-mn what BB posts about on HER OWN BLOG????

I'm serious. I find your question extremely strange.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn - I think we all care about what BB posts. That's why we keep coming back to the site.

Scout

Carolyn said...

Gee, thanks Scout. I can rest easy now, knowing that it was simply Lapin's care and concern for BB that prompted her post. (roll eyes).

Anonymous said...

I detected no particular "concern", Carolyn, just curiosity. That's fair enough for regular visitors. LB does touch on an interesting dynamic of this and a few other sites maintained by folks who long ago departed the Episcopal Church: Many of the posts seem to dwell on real or perceived failings of the Church they left, as opposed to the criticisms (or even praise) of the Church they joined. It is a very rear-view-biased kind of commentary. Of course, I find it interesting reading because I did not leave the Church, not from any great affinity for some of its loopier elements (virtually every church has these people, but I have to acknowledge that the TEC ones are more visible than a lot of other denominations), but because I abhor schism and think that the better practice is to try to hold things together within the Body of Christ. But I digress. LB's question seems to go to why, once someone has moved on to greener pastures, there is such an obsession with the old neighborhood. My own view is that there is a considerable need within the departing group for self-reinforcement on the wisdom of their decision, a decision that in many cases, because of the way the split was originally justified (a good deal of propagandistic hype and demonization of those who did not lean toward departure) and because of the entirely foolish and costly efforts to claim property, has been very costly. But that's just my view.

Scout

jschwarz42 said...

[I cannot say this in the space permitted, so will divide it into parts]. [Part 1] I agree with bb's basic point: that is vital we all ("progressive" or "traditionalist") try to remain in conversation with those outside our own ideological community, otherwise our discussions do simply wind up being "talking to ourselves" after a while. (That is primarily why I try to stay in conversation in places like this, where clearly I disagree profoundly with most of the fundamental theological positions of most who write here.)

That said, I do not think this point is fairly applied here to this video. I heard nothing "self-congratulatory" here. Mostly serious discussion by people who are taking their task seriously. I heard a fair amount of diversity of opinion raised by questioners. And a questioner from Integrity (about what do with bishops who will never allow blessings) was effectively "put down", with the comment that no one is interested in pressing bishops or anyone else to go anywhere if they are not ready to go there. It was also clearly shown (in response to a question) how the Commission is in contact with and conversation with representatives of the rest of the Anglican Communion

In this case, as the panelists said, the main thing to remember is that this Commission is responding to a basic "charge": to come up with liturgical and other resources for the blessing of same-gender unions. Now , if that is one's charge, I would think one would mostly want people on the project who believe in the project. It is not helpful to have people working on the project who think that the very idea of such liturgies and resources constitutes the church going to hell in a hand-basket (or taking a "careening turn over the theological cliff", as you put it)! Conversation about whether we even want such liturgies does indeed need to take place in the church (and there certainly is no lack of it!) - but the place for such conversation is not in the process of actually producing the liturgies or resources.

And it needs to be said that, for many of us in the church (and probably a clear majority at this point) it is a source both of joy and rejoicing that TEC nationally seems to be FINALLY moving forward toward the formal official authorization of blessings for same-gender couples. I hope it will indeed happen at the next GC. Certainly the ground is being prepared. If so, TEC is now moving towards doing what should have been done long ago. And let us be clear about the limits of what is being talked about. At most, this would simply be authorizing formal rites which MAY be used to bless unions of same-gender couples - for those church communities who discern this to be part of their mission (such as my own parish). But, under any plausible scenario, this will clearly NOT result in "forcing" any parish or person who is morally opposed to use or participate in such rites. One can be sure there will (and should) be "conscience clauses" galore in anything that passes GC! So (as always) I am not clear what the deep objection of the "orthodox" is. This will not affect you.
[continued, Part 2]

-John

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 2] It is indeed now time (a "chairos" time) for this to happen in the church. While I have read an large amount of traditionalist apologetics on these issues, I have yet to see advanced any coherent reason, based in reason or experience, why loving, faithful, committed same-gender unions (or marriages) should be viewed by the church any differently than mixed-gender marriages. (I have seen some confused talk about "complementarity" etc - but nothing, frankly, that "passes the laugh test".) And the witness of our communal experience (confirmed by such sociological "studies" as have been done by unbiased investigators) is that same-gender relationships are found to be as frequently blessed and "fruitful" (i.e., "bear good fruit"), for the couples themselves, for friends, children and other family, and for the wider community, as are the relationships of mixed-gender married couples. It is clear to me (and to an ever-increasing majority) in our own faith experience that such faithful, committed relationships, regardless of the gender of the partners, are equally blessed in the eyes of God.

And the Biblical texts usually pointed to are largely irrelevant (except for those who want to rely on a superficial proof-texting based on the same tired old group of isolated texts). The context of such Scriptural witness as there is indicates that (i) the specific issue of same-gender sexuality was very low on the priority-list for the Biblical writers, and (ii) (more importantly) it was considered solely from the perspective a set of cultural presumptions which grouped it with other forms of behavior seen as licentious, self-centered and/or exploitative, etc. The textual contexts show that it is mostly condemned unquestioningly for this reason. Sometimes such activity is also condemned (but, again, being viewed as a form of licentious self-centered behavior) because the participants are seen as engaging in it contrary to their own “nature” [“physis”] (see Paul in Romans). But today we have come to understand that, for many people, a same-gender sexual relationship is actually what is in accordance with their God-given "nature", not contrary to it (an idea that was unthinkable within the cultural thought-world of the Scriptural writers); so the continuing factual premise for Paul's assumptions is at the very least questionable.

But Scripture has nothing specific to say, in those passages or elsewhere, about same-gender sexual activity in the context of those kinds of relationships which are NOT licentious, self-centered and/or exploitative. And it is only these that our church is increasingly coming to recognize as "blessed". What is at issue are those relationships between persons of the same gender which are (i) covenantal in a profoundly Biblical sense and that are (ii) “lifelong committed relationships ‘characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God’” (GC Resolution 2009-D025 [quoting from 2000-D039]).

This statement from GC actually seems to me a rather profound way of summarizing what it is about ANY marriage that makes it a blessed thing. And since it is a blessed thing, we should bless it. There is simply no spiritually, religiously or morally significant difference between the relationships of same-gender couples, as such, and those of mixed-gender couples. And so it it a matter of scandal and injustice when the church continues to refuse to bless the marriages (or unions) of same-gender couples as it has traditionally blessed those of mixed-gender couples.
[continued, Part 3]
-John

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 3] I have no idea what anyone really means by what bb earlier called "a Biblical view of marriage" in the context of same-gender unions. Is this "biblical" view one that endorses polygamy (which is freely accepted in the OT); or that advocates the man being the "head"; or sees wives as property of their husbands - or any of the other cultural views of marriage that we have moved beyond in the modern world?

The true "Biblical view" of marriage needs to be recovered from the whole Scriptural witness by a more discerning, less literal, hermeneutic; to find a "view" that is consonant with the consistent set of values that one finds developing among God's People through the witness of Scripture - and continuing to develop through salvation history up into and through our present time and understanding. Most important is the notion of marriage as a "covenantal" relationship, and the importance of values and "virtues", that are loved by God, such as faithfulness, love, care and compassion, etc. All of these are found today in the rather recent phenomenon that we presently experience in same-gender unions and marriages - just as much as they are found in marriages that have traditionally been limited to mixed-gender couples.

I care so much about all this mostly because I see the refusal to allow the blessing of same-gender unions as an issue of injustice. And as an issue of good people within the Body of Christ being hurt by being excluded and by having their love irrationally and spitefully demeaned. When one part of of the Body is hurt, we are all hurt. I am mostly a religious pragmatist. When ANY theology ("orthodox" or not) is seen to be directly causing real hurt and harm to members of the Body of Christ, then we know from this that there is something wrong with that theology - and we need to move away from and beyond from it.

I do not find my own marriage in any way "cheapened" or "threatened" (as the man referred to in one of the presentations said) by allowing other couples, whose relationships are in every significant way just like that of my wife and myself, to share the same sacramental, God-filled joy of being married (and having that marriage blessed by our faith community) that we have experienced. I do, however, find it cheapened by political and religious conservatives who use "defending marriage" as a political football to try to stop others from sharing in the same blessing. The belief that same-gender marriage is somehow a "threat" to the "value" of "traditional" marriage is fundamentally irrational, without empirical basis, and, ultimately, empty of conceptual content.
[continued, Part 4]
- John

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 4] One final point (prompted by something that Anam Cara said in a comment). There is probably no more seductively dangerous theological view than that God "does not change" from age to age. The Greek God of the philosophers (which influenced much of early Christian thought) indeed could not change (because change implied an ability to enter into relationship with the Other and this implied imperfection). But the God of Scripture, by contrast, is intimately and "passionately" involved with and in "relationship" with us humans and the rest of God's creation; and is constantly "changing" in countless ways in order to respond lovingly and caringly ("hesed") to a Creation that in its very nature is always changing and evolving. "I am about to do a new thing; Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"

What God asks of us, in terms of basic values, does not change. But how these basic values actually "work out" in deriving generalized moral principles differs and evolves depending on the cultural factual contexts in which they are applied - and on changes in our ever-evolving theological understanding of how God calls us to live. We need to be prepared to listen and see, and to respond to the changes to which God is calling us. [end]

- John

Anonymous said...

RE: "And it needs to be said that, for many of us in the church (and probably a clear majority at this point) . . . "

What a nugget of delicious clueless tripe in the midst of four tedious screeds of the usual, now elderly, revisionist irrationalities and emotings.

Most of the folks in the church do not support same-sex blessings [as evidenced by numerous diocesan and church-wide surveys and as evidenced by the paltry numbers in the pro-gay sex activist organizations and as evidenced by the plummeting attendance numbers and pledging numbers and as evidenced by the very latest Hadaway research report indicating the *primary cause of conflict in TEC parishes*, among many other things].

My guess is that somewhere around 1/10 of the church attendance is the likes of the revisionist activists like JSchwarz. Problem is . . . it's folks like him who currently "lead" the church at the national level and at the diocesan level.

Fortunately -- very fortunately -- the people in the pews are withholding funds to support the unique gospel of the JSchwarz's of the world and TEC -- as it is currently constituted -- is nicely augering into the ground. As I shared with a fellow yesterday -- to name just *one teensy* example of such augering . . . the diocesan Episcopal Camp and Conference Center is now going the way of the dodo bird, as financially desperate dioceses sell them off like hotcakes.

I could name another score of obvious similar demonstrations of what's happening to TEC -- I expect others could as well.

The other good news is that the traditionalists just have to hunker in their parishes and watch the raging fires burn over the church organization as it's currently constituted . . . and watch we are.

I give it another decade before we can all venture forth again to survey the smoking ruins and begin rebuilding.


Sarah

Anonymous said...

John,

"But how these basic values actually "work out" in deriving generalized moral principles differs and evolves depending on the cultural factual contexts in which they are applied - and on changes in our ever-evolving theological understanding of how God calls us to live."

This is called "creating god in our own image", and yes, it is a small "g" because it is not the Creator and Ruler of the universe that we serve when we ignore His word.

RalphM

Anam Cara said...

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 4] One final point (prompted by something that Anam Cara said in a comment). There is probably no more seductively dangerous theological view than that God "does not change" from age to age. The Greek God of the philosophers (which influenced much of early Christian thought) indeed could not change ....

See:
Malachi 3:6,; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; James 1:17

It is not the Greeks who thought up the idea that God does not change - God Himself said it!

Anam Cara said...

@ jschwarz42

Do you think God has changed enough to be happy with this:

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1416452_manchester-cathedral-to-host-tarot-card-readers-and-healers-at-new-age-festival?

RWK said...

John,

Thanks for the long letter. I disagree with you on many issues and am not surprised you find conservative arguments "unconvincing" probably in the same way I find liberal ones unconvincing. The progressives have largely won this battle because they saw it as a moral crusade AND a political one. The conservatives rose the political challenge too late to stop the flood. The progressives worked the system, they hustled the votes, they took no prisoners...they took the field.

Despite their protestations to the contrary, it became clear to me that a conservative voice in the Episcopal Church would be permitted only if it were unable to oppose the progressive vision. I grew weary of being condescended to by bishops and priests, being lectured/hectored to about this "new thing" at every turn. I saw friends and family painted into corners by activist priests who forced them to "choose this day". You won, you beat me. I left.

I do believe liberals won't "force" the remaining conservatives out, but they will and have marginalized and isolated them. They are happy with a token conservative presence provide their particular vision of diversity is maintained.

Enjoy your church.

RWK

Anonymous said...

nice videography........ wonder how the speakers might explain why so few Americans, especially under the age of 50, go along to TEC on a Sunday......anything to do with their message?

Nah....it's those full mega-churches with thousands of young Americans which put people off attending TEC (I have heard that argument...that really does lead to ROFL momemnts!)

Roger Mortimer said...

Scout's 8:03 post above states, in detail, exactly what I had in mind in my brief post at the head of the thread.

[Lapinbizarre]

Steven in Falls Church said...

Some apparently believe themselves entitled to have their cake and eat it as well. While supporting TEC's lawsuit to seize BB's church, they yet criticize BB for using her own blog to highlight the false teachers that are shaping TEC's false doctrine--which doctrine would be insinuated into BB's church were TEC to seize it through its lawsuit. (Actually, I agree with the new bishop of the potemkin San Joaquin diocese that the lawsuits are really for the purpose of seizing property assets to liquidate and pay the lawyers, but humor me here for argument's sake.) Perhaps if 815 could be prevailed upon to halt its lawsuit pogrom, you would see the tone here at the Cafe improve.

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 1] re: Ralph M.'s 'This is called "creating god in our own image"....,' I do sometimes hear things like this from the traditionalist side; but, with respect, I do not think it really stands up to analysis, or reflects what is actually going on when theological and moral thinking is allowed to evolve in the church. From my perspective, it is more like opening ourselves (as a church) to and listening to the in-spirational call of God's Spirit, and being willing to venture out from the safe concrete walls of "firm", static, unchangeable tradition and dogma into the place of the Spirit where "the wind blows from you know not towards you know not where" - which we are told is the mark of people of the Spirit.

"God's Word" comes to presence among us in many ways (not just in reading literally the writings of those inspired writers of Scripture who heard God's Word in past times). This is not to suggest in any way abandoning Scripture. But it is rather to suggest that we ALSO allow the living Word that is embodied in our Scriptural texts, which were written in a specific historical and cultural context often alien to our own, to be complemented by new interpretations and new insights. These grow out of and are embodied in the emerging experience of God's Word that we find today within our own faith community, as we together seek God's truth under the guidance of the Spirit. (And we must remember that there are no un-interpreted truths, because everything we know, whether from direct experience or from reading a text, comes to us through the prism of SOME specific interpretation or perspective).

When I think of "creating God in our own image", by contrast, I think of a kind of self-indulgent, self-willed interpretation, which does NOT listen to the Spirt, but instead sees things the way we WANT to see them - because that would make it easier for us. I see nothing of this in the kind of theological hermeneutic one finds in TEC or other church communities that are open to a more progressive theology. No one I know wants to bless s-g unions (for example) because that is the "truth" that we want and therefore blindly insist on (although that may well be the case for some less analytic supporters of blessings). It is rather because we prayerfully discern the Spirit leading us to understand that this is "the right thing to do" - the "way" that which God is calling us to walk - and a re-thinking of what God's Word is calling us toward in the reality of today's changed world. And a "way" to which we are led by a deeper probing of the implications that the fundamental values which we have inherited through our tradition and Scripture (such as justice, love, compassion, covenantal faithfulness, unselfish care for the other) have in for specific issues in our own cultural context today. Clearly others do not feel called by the Spirit to follow this way. (The reality that different parts of God's People are called by the same Spirit to reach and advocate different positions has ALWAYS been a fact of life throughout the history of Christianity. I have an idea why this happens (which is way beyond the scope of brief discussion possible here) - but it is a very fruitful area in which we should be having a conversation, if we are to lay a groundwork for truly "being one" in our diversity.) [continued]

-John

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 2] But no one is talking of changing our FUNDAMENTAL understanding of God, or salvation, or of how God calls us to live. We still, as much as ever, insist on "doing justice" and "loving compassion" and loving God and neighbor through our lives. We still value things like faithfulness, etc. It is just a question of how we best apply these FUNDAMENTAL understandings about God which we have inherited more SPECIFICALLY to the issues that now arise in the changed context where we as a community live today. This kind of "entering into conversation with" our past traditions, sacred texts and interpretations seems to me to be more profoundly true to and "respectful" of "tradition" and "Scripture" than a slavish literal adherence. I love a quote from the poet Basho, once used by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister: "I do not seek to follow in the footsteps of those of old. I seek the things they sought."

There is, to be sure, a danger of imposing the meanings that we WANT to find. Fortunately, however, Jesus has given us a reasonably sure and simple test for discerning whether we are on the right path. It is "by their fruit" that any teacher or teaching is to be judged. Good teaching produces, in the specific historical and cultural context in which it is spoken, "good fruit": it leads to spiritual (and material) well-being, joy and the flourishing of us humans as part of God's creation; it leads us closer to a loving relationship with God and to Godly values (such as faithfulness, justice, love, joy, etc.). As between the theology which welcomes faithful same-gender couples and blesses their unions, and a theology which condemns them and hurtfully excludes them simply because of a willful literal reading of a few Scriptural texts, I personally am pretty sure which theology "bears the better fruit".

-John

jschwarz42 said...

re: Anam Cara and "God does not change":- This to me is the danger of proceeding by proof-texting and being overly literal. The texts you cite all do of course state that God does not change. But what does that mean? Reading all these verses in the context of their passages, it seems that what they mean by God being "unchanging" is an assurance that God is not "fickle". God is steadfast, faithful, dependable; does not lie, keeps "his" promises, and does not promise one thing then change "his" mind. We can "rely" on God, in a way we cannot rely on other men, because men are untrustworthy by comparison.

Now I am not saying that in every way God is always changing. In fundamental values, God is indeed unchanging. No matter what the context, God is always urging us to justice, love, faithfulness, etc. And God is always on the side of the poor and the oppressed.

But we know God primarily in how God reveals Godself and in how God enters into relationship with us humans. Our human contexts do change from age to age and culture to culture. So what sometimes changes is HOW, in changing historical and cultural contexts, God relates to us and God's Spirit calls us to respond on specific issues (such as what, in today's world, does justice demand, what is "blessed" in God's eyes, etc.) An ”unchanging” God, who is however also deeply and lovingly “involved” with God’s human creation who do change, could scarcely remain in a truly committed and faithful relationship with such changing creatures as ourselves without, over time, as our contexts change, in some sense changing in God’s response to us, and in how God’s Spirit moves us to respond to God.

In the stories of Scripture, while there are clearly passages emphasizing God's "unchanging" nature, there are also passages stressing how God does, in concrete ways, change in how God lovingly relates to us in our changing contexts. God frequently "relents" (which is a kind of "change") in the OT narratives. Isaiah talks of God "doing a new thing". Jeremiah talks of a "new covenant" written in the heart. And God's People have "changed" over time (both before and after Christ) in our understanding of what God wants and finds good. We no longer think God would call Israel to slaughter women and children of Israel's enemies. We reject slavery (which was mostly accepted through most of history). We (most of us!) no longer understand the man as being the "head" of an "obedient" wife. etc etc

So now maybe is the time to also recognize what God is NOW showing us through experience: that there may indeed be "blessed" covenantal relationships between same-gender couples which are in every meaningful way the same as the "blessed" covenantal relationships which we have always recognized in mixed-gender marriage.


-John

RWK said...

If "we no longer think God would call Israel to slaughter the women and children of Israel's enemies", what do "we" think actually happened? The struggle comes in wrestling with what God meant by His call to Israel, not dismissing it or throwing it down the memory hole.

All of this change never struck me as any "journey of discovery" or "struggle". Progressives knew where they wanted to get to years ago and long since stopped struggling or listening to anyone but themselves. How else can one describe dismissing the majority of the world's Anglicans? The only struggle was securing votes to make it happen - replacing or removing troublesome bishops, making sure committees had the +1 votes needed and always having a token conservative to provide cover.

I think it is just as likely God has turned the Episcopal Church over to desire of its heart, as he does all who remain stubbornly unrepentant.

Anam Cara said...

@ jschwarz42

When Jesus met the woman caught in adultery, he didn't say, "Okay, it's okay, I forgive you," although he DID forgive her. What He said was, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

He did not redefine sin to make her feel better. He called sin sin and told the woman not to sin again.

When you redefine marriage and human sexuality from something other than what God said, you are not being loving. You are saying, "It is sin, but go ahead anyway because Jesus will forgive." You are calling evil good - Isaiah 5:20.

Jesus calls us to repentance and a holy life. Paul said,"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" Romans 6:1,2.

Instead of "blessing" same sex unions, which God has called sin, why not call people to repentance instead?

If I am wrong, I have still lovingly called people to repentance. If you are wrong, you have encouraged them in sin. Someday we will each give an account (even for our idle words) Matt 12:26, Romans 14:12.

Heb 13:17 says that our pastors will give an account - they will be held responsible if we sin with their encouragement. I wonder how many of the Episcopal Church leaders have read Hebrews and take it seriously.