The importance of unity
Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has spoken about the ongoing debates in the Anglican Communion and their effects. In particular, he warns that the arguments (too often polarised and vitriolic) are harmful in themselves and do not reflect Christ. He also warns against the push to codify and legislate the Communion, and against the apparent drive to form a Curia for the Anglican Communion, transforming it into a rigid heirarchy.
Whatever the merits of the various positions on human sexuality, my greatest sadness is that we have allowed ourselves, within the Primates’ Meeting in particular, to lose sight of what it means to live in Communion…I fear we are in danger of setting up something akin to the Roman Curia and I am especially worried that the Primates, gifted and blessed and called as they are in so many ways, are nonetheless so unrepresentative of the totality of the Body of Christ…
When we look back on the history of the Church, it has always been assailed with divisions to be overcome. The unity of Christ’s people is one of the prime targets of the devil…The devil’s purposes are far better served when people look at us and see us fighting and quarrelling, and doing so in ways that fail to reflect the spirit of charity, tolerance and gracious magnanimity that has always characterised the best of Anglicanism…
I suspect that future generations will see this as something of a storm in a teacup, and certainly not as central to the Christian life. For the centre of Christian life is Jesus Christ. As I said at the TEAM conference, God’s eternal Word did not come as a philosophical concept, nor as a political programme. Nor was the Word made text. But the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
This is a wise and articulate man, and I’d urge anyone interested in this issue to read what he has to say. I hope and pray that the various Anglican churches, and especially their leaders, listen to him. Sadly, it seems as though he is to retire soon. We need voices like this.
pax et bonum
Hate the sin, love the sinner?
Tobias suggests that we stop using the old saw “hate the sin, love the sinner”. He does this because, he believes, it goes against the very nature of Christianity. First, he says, it’s not biblical – both because it’s not explicit anywhere in the Bible and because it actually goes against the teachings of the Bible. Sin is more than just something that we do. We are not told merely to avoid killing our brother but to avoid hating him, not merely to avoid adultery but to avoid lust. How, then, can we separate sin from sinner in the way that this aphorism requires?
How does one separate the two, if sin involves more than behavior, as both the Law and Jesus maintain? Jesus does not deal with sin apart from sinners. Without a word about hatred, Christ on the contrary tells us that we should love the sinner and forgive the sin…
It is impossible to “hate the sin” apart from the sinner, as if sin had some reality apart from the desires and actions of fallen human beings, as if you could somehow extract the sin from a person and vent your purifying fury upon it. Such a notion is very far from the Gospel.
pax et bonum
Are Neanderthals saved?
Our friend Ruth (not daughter Ruth!) asked a good question today, in the comments to a previous post, and I thought it deserved its own post. Her question was this:
Went to a dinosaur park today and saw models of neaderthal man. They got me thinking. They made tools and fires and things. But was God their God? I know that we didn’t evolve from them. But at what point in evolution did God become the God that he is for human-kind?
Good question! The first thing to say is that we dont know the answer, and cant this side of heaven. But I do have a few thoughts.
Its usually been held by the Church that the thing setting humanity apart from the animals is the possession of a rational soul. That is, the power to think, speak and reason is what makes us human. If so, we would have to suggest that Neanderthals were also human in this sense. And so, yes, God would be their God, too. Of course, God is the God of the animals and the rocks and the stars, too, so in that sense its trivial. But, if the Neanderthals sought any God then the triune God would the One to whom they would be reaching. And I believe that God would reach back to them.
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Followup on price
In my previous post, Hammertime asked a cogent question. I’ve answered him in the comments there, but I thought it bore repeating as a higher-level article.
If you truly believe that the price has been paid, not to God but by God, who has it been paid to?
The first thing to say is that I dont find a “price” model of the atonement particularly useful, partly for this reason. The idea that the crucifixion was a price paid to God has serious issues – Jeffrey John articulated some of them. But, for a starter, theres a definite logical problem with God requiring payment and then, by legal sleight of hand, paying Himself and claiming that that makes everything alright. If He could sidestep payment by paying Himself, why require the payment in the first place? The alternative (which is the idea actually found in the NT) is that the price was paid to Satan – we were slaves to sin and Christ redeemed us (i.e. paid the price) from that slavery and set us free. But I don’t like this idea much, either, if taken too literally, because I don’t think that Satan has that much power.
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The price is paid
There’s been quite a fuss in the Press this week about a Lenten talk given by Dean Jeffrey John. The fuss comes, once again, because he addresses the idea of the Cross and how Jesus ‘paid the price’ for our sins. There have been the usual knee-jerk responses (sadly from bishops in the Church of England, too, this time!) that, because he rejects penal substitution, he is somehow heretical and rejects all substitutionary ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you actually listen to what he said (or read the transcript), you’ll see that he’s very firmly still in the substutionary mould. It’s just that the focus is away from a God who is mostly wrathful and bent on punishment to a God who is all Love. And, I don’t know about you, but I know which God I meet in the Bible and, most particularly, in the Person who said “whoever has seen me has seen the Father”.
On the cross Jesus dies for our sins; the price of our sin is paid; but it is not paid to God but by God.
Not to God but by God.
pax et bonum
Other recent posts in this section
» A guilty conscience?
» From the mind of Maggi
» Lest we forget
» Graveyard in Parliament Square
» Arms or food?
» Easy salvation?
» Eucharistic ignorance
» Fundamentalists and atheists - best friends?
» The Gospel according to Archer?
» Sending out
» Innovation in the Church
» The Jesus tomb
» Lent, simplicity and stuff
» Primates' Communique in a nutshell
» In communion
» Living together
» Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple?
» Progress and the past
» Does 'Christian' mean 'homophobe'?
» The Motherhood of God?
» Folk religion
» Advent candles
» Publisher requires authors to sign Nicene Creed
» Advent calendar