Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Little Kindling, my gift to you

I'm touched and heartened that all your lovely liberals are reading this blog. And I'm sorry I haven't responded but I've been having a very restful and needed Sabbath from the Internet over the weekend.

I have three points to make in response to all the comments, and then you can carry on arguing and considering whether I am merely an idiot, or possibly a nasty person or awfully wonderful.

Also, no more anonymous comments on this subject (Matt, you can just keep signing your name. The rest of you, if you comment anonymously without adding a name, I'll take the trouble to learn how to delete you). On all other subjects (like food) feel free to continue anonymously.

Points I wish to Make and Stick By
(even at the potential risk of snarkyness)
1. Calvanism as it really is (and not how all of you are making it out to be) is Not Bad. Its a perfectly reasonable and rational theological picture of God and Humanity. 'Total Depravity' does not mean that the image of God is completely obscured and marred. God created human beings and called them good. The depravity comes in our orientation away from God and towards ourselves, resulting from the fall, so much so that each faculty is marred. Every faculty is wounded by sin, but the total person still bears the image of God. Total doesn't mean 'utter' it means 'comprehensive'. I believe very strongly that if we human beings are honest with ourselves, we will find that we are not totally or comprehensively good. Furthermore, this lack of goodness (just for kicks, call it depravity, haha) is not overcomeable by ourselves. We cannot fix our sickened faculties on our own. Indeed, we cannot even desire to be good without the gracious intervention of God into our lives giving us the desire to seek him and desire to be good in a true sense (but I'll still hang out and be friends with you Arminians). So, obviously, my outrageous challange to your Pelagian Presiding Bishop is to honestly and sincerely look into my blog and tell me with a straight face that you're good, all your faculties, all the time, without the MDGoals to help you out.
2. I would then further challenge you Lovely Liberal Revisionists to say what you have faith In. It's all very well to say, blithely and happily, 'I have faith in God and Jesus makes me happy', or something, but what do you mean by Jesus? Because I would seriously venture that we don't agree even remotely on who Jesus, or God, is or what he has done and why.
And
3. I'm not ignorant of that of which I write. I am daily offering pastoral care and discipleship to people who have looked honestly inside of themselves and found that they don't have enough, they are not good, they are very far gone in sin. And without the supernatural intervention of God into their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit to apply the work of Jesus Christ in the forgiveness of their sins, the cleansing from all unrighteousness and the ongoing work of sanctification, they would be in the pit of hell, now, even before having to die literally. And just telling them to 'have faith' or 'be healed' or 'work or a greener earth' without preaching the Gospel, that is the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, would be cruel, a waste of their time, and dishonest.

So, heh, I stick by my original questions and I'm still waiting for a calm, charitable answer. (Big shout out to Matt for defending me so gallantly and brilliantly all weekend. Thank you.)

32 comments:

Malcolm+ said...

Okay. Here is an attempt at a calm and honest answer to the question.

I don't know a single cleric in the Anglican Church of Canada or in the Episcopal Church in the US who does not believe that they stand in need of God's grace. What gets us up in the morning and what gives us the strength to keep moving is that same inestimable grace which I hope and trust provides the same to you.

We depend on that grace to lead us and guide us as we seek to apply the eternal truth of the gospel in this particular moment of time. We feel and know the need of that grace to avoid the ditches on both sides of the road - the ditch of false certainty where yesterday's context becomes today's verity, and likewise the ditch of adapting the gospel to the present context.

And, being fully and fallibly human, sometimes we all miss the mark. Sometimes we get it wrong.

Doubtless there exists somewhere that conservative bogeyman the obstinately heretical Anglican / Episcopal priest. I've not met him or her.

Doubtless there also exists that liberal bogeyman the power-seeking, gaybashing conservative.

I've not personally met either.

Anne Kennedy said...

So what do you mean by grace? And on what basis is it given?

And, just for kicks, who do you think Jesus is?

Anonymous said...

Anne, Why the change up in the rules? Your husband's blog SFiF allows all sorts of scurrilous things to be written about liberals/progressives, but when you get the mere whiff of the liberal/progressive scent here, you decry "no more anonymous posts".

Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.

This is YOUR blog, is it not, Anne? Why is your husband's voice so prominent? My goodness, doesn't he have enough of a forum? Isn't this your forum?

I won't speak for malcolm+, but Grace, according to the BCP (my apologies, as I understand it, you and Matt no longer abide by either its philosophy or its rubrics, being priests who have resigned their orders but are not yet priests in any other diocese of the Anglican Communion), is defined as "God's favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by Grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills."

Oh, and BTW, I am a bone fide Evangelical AND Anglo-Catholic, and I while I agree with your definition, your examples of what it means to be a Calvinist Evangelical are at odds with your definition - at least as you have posted them on your blog.

Charlotte

Scarlett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ottorinophc said...

malcolm,

maybe i'm on my way to another apparent grand canyon jump here, but i'm still having a hard time understanding. work with my dull mind here.

again, this is not a calvinist speaking...at least not a full blown one, perhaps partially sympathetic at times...but it sounds like you're saying everyone needs grace. how do you differentiate this from what matt and anne are saying?

i think one important thing to clarify is that matt and anne speak about grace towards salvation, whereas i'm not sure totally about the grace you speak of. it sounds (to echo my last post, sorry...) like the kind of grace that helps us better ourselves. god's grace is what helps us not be alcoholics, not make theological mistakes, etc....and perhaps for you, this is salvation. but matt and anne are talking about salvation rectifying us to a holy God, taking away all our sins...not just helping us be better people in this life (though that would certainly be included). anne's talking about soteriological grace (i believe), but it seems like you're talking about the sort of "our daily bread" grace, the stuff of sermonettes and, well, platitudes. that's probably too harsh, i know. but i work with matt and anne; i know the dark nastiness they deal with, and the dark nastiness in myself. and anything less than the kind of grace that can combat total depravity is not grace enough (at least not soteriologically speaking).

i think i would echo the comments about cheap grace, at this point. you said sin can only be defeated by god's grace. and there it sounds like you're talking about soteriological grace, but if so...why such a visceral reaction to what anne says? if only God's grace can defeat sin, why the rejection of total depravity? what does it matter? would you like to believe there's still a part of us that actually does something to defeat sin? or is it a sort of, we take one step, God takes two? God only helps those who help themselves?

sorry for the barrage of questions. bad habit. all this is to basically echo anne's question of...what is your definition of grace...what is it grace towards?



charlotte,

last time i checked, anne's blog is not sfif, and it is not hypocritical at all for her to make these rules. it is, after all, as you have pointed out, HER blog. not her husband's. i don't understand why it seems hypocritical to you...

sounds a bit desperate to sling mud to me.

the answer to your question about matt is a simple one. matt has an addiction to commenting. anne does not. (sorry to out you on this one, matt.) i myself have occasional flare ups in my own comment board addiction, such as at this moment.

i think it's really funny, though, how upset folks get when matt gets commenting on anne's blog...as if he's behind anne, puppeting the whole ordeal. it's just laughable to me because you guys obviously don't know matt and anne or the dynamics they have as a couple. if you did, you would know what you're implying here is absurd, charlotte. totally silly.

also, your last point begs the question, charlotte. please explain more. you can't expect a bumpkin like me to follow your highly intelligent chain of reasoning.

Grace said...

I'm confused. On the surface, it sounds to me as if Malcolm+, and Anne+ basically agree.

Fr. Malcom what do you feel is the main difference between your two convictions?

Do you think that you and Anne+ agree concerning the gospel?

Charlotte, are you the same Charlotte from Fr. Jake's? If so, I miss your voice. You're being pretty hard with Anne+, though.

Grace.

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlot,

1. I have not idea where you get your information but we were accepted as priests in ACK prior to our formal resignation from TEC.

2. Anne will run her blog as she see's fit. You have no

3. You make many assertions but there is little to which respond since there is no argument and alot of what sounds like bitterness and frustration.

4. We'll pray for you

Matt

Boaz said...

Dear Anne

Point 3.

When you (and the other types of people that you're pastoring) look inside, is it possible that what you're seeing and describing is flitered through the glasses that you've put on? How could it not be?

See I've met and talked with those same people and what you're describing is low self esteem, low self worth, childhood histories of rejection and personal suppression. It happens in the best of hoems too by the most loving of parents, (actually the most loveing are sometimes most at risk).

Similarly when people look into themselves and they don't see this (what you're describing) it doesn't mean that they think they are special or that they don't personally need grace it's just that they don't struggle with the types of presonality issues that you're describing.

We all need grace liberals evangelicals.

One final point. When someone "comes to Jesus" and they are glad of all the counselling and pastoring that you've given yes you can rejoice but remember sometimes people who feel horrible inside will do anything to keep the contact with you (with anyone) and soemtimes they have just come "to you" rather than Jesus. Time will tell. We're all still hanging in there.

ottorinophc said...

boaz,

maybe that filter anne is seeing things through is the bible?

maybe?

for example, this "filter" from romans 3...


10"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."[c]
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."[d]
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."[e]
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."[f]
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."[g]
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."[h]

ottorinophc said...

oh wait...i quoted paul.

is that ok with you guys? you still consider paul biblical right?

Anne Kennedy said...

Charlotte,
I agree, its a lot more interesting to argue about who should be allowed to comment and why, then about the original questions. Just to totally irritate you, Matt is allowed to comment on my blog because he's my husband, the head of our household, and, therefore, entitled to know all my thoughts, concerns, and blogging life.
As for the changing rules in the middles, well, you're right, its my blog. I think its cowardly to come here and disagree with me anonymously. By all means, disagree, but man up while you do it.

Frair John said...

1- Your condisending tone of "lovely liberals" makes me want to not respond to any of your questions. It is abundantly clear you are not listening.

2- I've never been convinced that you all are Calvinists. You sound and act more and more Arminian every day.

3- That said, your description of Calvin's doctrine of Total Depravity seems spot on. It's when you get to "the basis for it being given" that you sound less like Geneva and more like Amsterdam.

Anne Kennedy said...

Boaz,
you've illustrated my point precisely. What you all call 'low self esteem' is actually sin. Just trying to feel better, or going to councelling, or looking further inside oneself to fix the problem, leads ultimately to a dead end because what is required is forgiveness and only that can be provided by God. I know this because I work with them and they now have 'good self esteem' (their new identity in Christ as loved, forgiven and restored) because God is working in their lives. You're right, I absolutely have a lens, the lens of scripture

Anne Kennedy said...

friar John,
thanks for getting over the condescension. May you be ever blessed.
Show me in what manner, exactly, I am sounding Arminian.

Anne Kennedy said...

friar John,
thanks for getting over the condescension. May you be ever blessed.
Show me in what manner, exactly, I am sounding Arminian.

Malcolm+ said...

Let me see if I can get them all.

1. Grace is the unmeritted gift of God which enables us to conform to his will and which, in the fullness of time, brings us to the fullness of salvation.

2. Jesus is exactly who the creeds say Jesus is: God the son of God and the son of Mary the God-bearer. He is the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us, as one of us.

3. Otto, while I don't attribute it to ill will, you are reading in again - this time reading into things not said.

4. Grace, I think that Anne and I do basically agree. My reaction to Anne is less about what she believes than about what she finds it necessary to think that I believe. It appears that Anne believes that, if a person disagrees with her position on "the issue," then one must not believe in sin, grace, the Incarnation of the Trinity.

5. Anne, if I'm wrong on that, I'm sure you'll feel free to tell me.

6. Insofar as Anne conforms to the creeds (and I have no reason to beloieve she does not) we agree on those things. I believe our principle disagreements are about non-credal matters.

Unfortunately, I think the way this thread is playing out proves a point I was making earlier. It is difficult to have honest engagement if everything one says is going to be parsed and reassembled - or even denied - in order to demonstrate some presupposed heresy.

On another conservative blog, last week or the week before, the blogger quoted the Presiding Bishop's comments affirming and expanding on the idea of "Jesus is Lord. Inevitably another conservative commentator wrote it all off with the claim that she didn't really mean it.

Sitting at this computer up here, Anne, your response to my comment sounds like "I can't find anything heterodox in what you said, so I'll accuse you of not really meaning it."

That may not be fair. Indeed, it may just be me reading my own presuppositions into it. I make no claim that "my side" is immune to the same sort of presumption.

ottorinophc said...

well, i'm probably reading into it, because i've definitely seen the leaps that most liberal bloggers make with terminology. forgive me if i read into yours what i've seen in theirs. i think what anne's reacting to is the way that what the most vocal liberals in the church are doing with the terminology. using it, "affirming" the creed, but then totally emptying out the terms of whatever meaning they have typically held and using them towards a completely different end, not to mention the methods of interpretation that actually led to the formation of those creeds originally.

i'm completely sympathetic in a lot of ways to what you've said here about "the ditch of false certainty where yesterday's context becomes today's verity, and likewise the ditch of adapting the gospel to the present context." i think a lot of folks on the conservative end of things who are plenty guilty of this.

yet at the same time, i have yet to hear a convincing argument from the left on the whole current issue in the church. and i'll be honest, i don't know how any person who reads the bible can. i've only seen the same biblical gymnastics that i think a lot of full 5-pointer calvinists are guilty of (sorry matt/anne ;-)).

so i apologize for my reading into things, but then again, i'm glad it made you define grace explicitly. one thing the current debate tells us is that we always have to be willing to explicitly define everything, because not even the basic terms are accepted anymore.

and maybe that's a good thing. it's always good to contend for the basics of what one believes. which really is the essence of the problem of debate via comment board. this medium demands these sort of assumptions. if real debate is going to happen, it should be in the form of traded jousts via long treatises.

Frair John said...

(Please forgive any spelling erros - it has never been my strong suite and I don't feel like playing around with cut and past.)

Like I said, the words you use about Grace strike me as Arminian. You seem, and again I use the term seem, to be saying that Holyness is worked on and is a contingant for Grace. In other words, we must be always on guard lest we lose the salvation we have earned through Christ. There is an implication, and again it is a seeming one, that good works are essential to the salvation of souls, unlike the uterly unmerited grace of Calvin - chosen by God not vice versa.

I'm not doing very well, but I'm riding herd on a pack of teenagers and I am developing a massive head ache. I'n not sure if they're related or not.

BTW - I do enjoy reading about you and the kids. I'm convinced there is more theological content in the lives and opinions of kids than we generaly give them credit for. Thank you for sharing your stories.

prairiewords said...

Charlotte?

As an "bonafide Anglo-Catholic" I'm surprised you haven't waved the specter of WO into this issue. Anne+ & Matt+ appear to have been duly ordained through the course of apostolic succession and cannot resign their ordination. They can resign their licence, this part you may have misunderstood, but they remain priests till they die unless they renounce their orders which I don't think they have. In all fairness, the folks across the Tiber feel they have a lock on Holy Orders. And I will be corrected if wrong but on what path of succession do Anglo-C priests validate their ordination?

I blog too and I assert content control so if you post something "I" feel inappropriate to the discussion "I" will delete. Like it or not I'm not obliged to provide you a forum.

Malcolm+, you need to get out more, I've been face to face with a few of the bogeymen.

Anne+ I sit in the back of an ANiC church plant looking forward to the day when I have the privilege of standing in the front looking into the congregation. I cannot imagine the pain and frustration you are experiencing in defence of your faith and your congregation. Blogging attracts the Nominal Christian (+Suenens) and the false teacher as well as Christ's True Disciples. It your's (and our's) miserable task to discern who.

Grace said...

Well, praise God, then Malcolm.+ Personally, I think we need to find our unity in the person and work of Christ, around essentials such as the Nicene Creed, and agree to disagree about the rest.

We can trust God to bring the church to a fuller unity overtime.

On the other hand, I think we should totally stand up, and advocate for the core of our faith, and rally around the truth of the incarnation, and Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

My thoughts, anyway Malcolm+, and Anne.+ I appreciate everyone's sharing.

Malcolm+ said...

Prairie,

Well, I do get out quite a bit. She who must be obeyed says I'm not home nearly enough.

My usual experience has been that the worst things I've heard about people on both sides are usually (ie, almost always) constructed from caricatures drawn by their opponents. And, unfortunately the nature of online conversations seems to make it easier to engage straw men than real people.

Otto,

I don't have so much of an issue per se with the suggestion that "reappraisers" are doing, as you put it, biblical gymnastics. I take issue, rather, with the suggestion that one "side" is teaching the pure gospel and the other side is a gang of detestable heretics. And at its worst, that is what the conversation usually becomes - and the sides, in this regard, are interchangeable.

Commentators generally and bloggers in particular are inclined to present their own "side" in a favourable light and the other less so. The problem comes - and real debate ends - when that process turns into an exercise in theological McCarthyism. And both sides do it.

ottorinophc said...

see now, i do have a problem with doing biblical gymnastics, by either side. and i believe very much in contending for the gospel against those people. because when we lose sight of the gospel message for the sake of unity, we lose the church.

this does not mean, of course, that we should not be shrewd about things, and that we should not seek out the truth when it comes to the real issues. and granted, a lot of blunt categorization has been going on, particularly in the blogging world. we should always pursue truth. but the gospel is the measure of truth. indeed Christ prayed that we all would be one (john 17:21) but he prayed that we would be one as he and the father are one, that is, in TRUTH and submission to it.

we are not one as anglicans, or one as episcopalians, or one as everyone who repeats the nicene creed, but one in Christ, in the Word. if the various communions show forth that oneness, then God be praised, but otherwise, we must continually be contending for the gospel, letting God unify us as he sees fit.

so, for example, leaving the table is not the worst sin, nor is boycotting lambeth (an action i'm not necessarily on board with, fyi), is not a denial of the cross of Christ. the worst sin is denial of the cross of Christ, and if being at that negotiating table allows heresy to continue without condemnation for more time, then we are denying the cross of Christ.

i think satan would love nothing more than to watch those who truly contend for the gospel to spend time at a futile negotiating table, discoursing with one another on into eternity.

i know i'm using the terms heresy and orthodox, which you fundamentally dispute. but i do believe there is such a thing as belief in truth, and a thing as heresy.

i'm curious to know what are some things you would consider heretical? maybe that's too broad a question...would you ever use the term heretic to talk about another person and their beliefs?

Polly said...

Anne, your blog is so exciting! No one ever gets angry at me on mine. :)

Malcolm+ said...

I'd certainly acknowledge as heresies those things which the seven councils denounced as heresies. But, as recent dialogue between the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox demonstrates, often when the Church condemns heresy she has been condemning caricatures or distortions of what others have been saying.

I would use the word heresy - at my best moments, reluctantly - to describe someone else's set of beliefs or actions. I have suggested elsewhere, for example, that the approach that Akinola and some others took at Dromantine and Dar es Salaam in refusing to attend the eucharist at which the Presiding Bishop was in attendance raised the spectre of a sort of neo-docetism.

Given a choice between the muddling dialogue approach of Anglicanism or the authoritarian approach of both Rome and many Protestant sects, I'd take the muddling dialogue approach any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Hello Grace, it's nice to know that my voice has been missed somewhere. My apologies for appearing short with Anne. I really detest polarizations. Thank you, Anne for allowing such a spirited conversation on your blog.

Charolotte

Malcolm+ said...

". . . the spectre of a sort of neo-docetism."

That was supposed to be neo-donatism.

At least, that's what I thought appeared.

(Subtle joke there for the very theologically literate.)

For the record, both donatism and docetism are heresies.

Anonymous said...

I have a different model, so to speak what you call Original Sin; it is the gap, inherent in the condition of being human, between the finite (us) and the Infinite (God). We can not bridge the gap but the Infinite can, through the Incarnation and through the action of the Holy Spirit (grace). The Atonement, per se, is just an add on to that. The essential thing is that God incarnated--became flesh--in the person of Jesus.

But I can't accept the idea of "fallen nature" and "depravity" in the way you do. To me, it is a denial of God--to wit:

The Creator is Perfect. Therefore His Creations are Perfect, and even what we see as imperfections are in truth perfections. (And the inability to see those perfections is itself one of those hidden perfections we perceive as imperfection.) Everything is perfect, coming direct from the hand of God. It is our job to discover the hidden imperfections, and to make it easier for others to discover the imperfections hidden in ourselves--which in practical terms means the practice of active charity and the avoidance of actual sin. And of course, the more help we get from God in that, the better.

Kishnevi

Anonymous said...

Sorry for a typo. "Should have written "hidden perfections" instead of "hidden imperfections"

Kishnevi

trog said...

Anne,

I apologize for being unable to answer the questions you pose. At the same time I apologize on behalf of those who call themselves ministers of Christ yet were unable to meet you where you were, instead, whining about offense and insisting that you re-phrase your question until suitable to a personal standard.

If you are proclaiming the Living Water to those who seek then you are indeed a minister of Christ. I agree there are some among your peers who do not point to the Good News. We can only pray for them.

Peace.

Anne Kennedy said...

Thank you all, so much, for a vigorous and interesting discussion. I'm really sorry I'm not having a minute to chime in. Please carry on and I will try to carve out a moment this afternoon.

Malcolm+ said...

And Anne+, thatnk you for framing the question in such a way as it allowed for it.

Jeffri Harre said...

Anne,

You wrote: "2. I would then further challenge you Lovely Liberal Revisionists to say what you have faith In. It's all very well to say, blithely and happily, 'I have faith in God and Jesus makes me happy', or something, but what do you mean by Jesus? Because I would seriously venture that we don't agree even remotely on who Jesus, or God, is or what he has done and why."

Since you "seriously venture that we dopn't agrree even remotely on who Jesus, or God, is or what he has done and why," why should we even bother trying to answer your questions? You've already dismissed our answers.