Friday, April 18, 2008

Okay Okay

You commenters are perfectly right. There's no cause to be snarky and polemical about the faith and beliefs of others, on whatever side of whatever debate. I ought not to blog first thing in the morning while my tea gets cold.

However, I wasn't really trying to be snarky. I'm honestly curious. I'm experiencing a chasmic divide in world view. I don't understand what makes the leadres of TEC get up and go every day. I'm not talking about the average wonderful people in TEC who really believe and who didn't ask for this mess. I'm talking about the people who not only asked for the mess but went out and created it. If the human person is supposed to be basically good, what do you do when there's not enough good in the human person?

This question is largely prompted by various pastoral care/evangelism I'm being called upon to ladel out. The two go hand in hand.

Alright, I'll stop blogging. I'm too tired to articulate this question properly. If you can grope your way towards understanding what I'm trying to ask, by all means, answer away.

19 comments:

Malcolm+ said...

Belief in the Fall does not, to my mind, require belief in the utter depravity of humans.

Humans are beset by sin. We are mired in sin. We need God's grace to ever escape the bonds of sin.

Why do you think I don't believe that?

Anyway, good for you for acknowledging that the caricature wasn't fair. On all sides, we need to be more courteous.

Anonymous said...

Anne --

I read your original post and I didn't think you were snarky, I was happy some one else said what I had been thinking. We have some in the leadership of TEC, who are more intested in themselves and their cause than the the Church (small c or Capital C) we all claim to serve. I take issue with people who are WOMEN priests, GAY priests, LIBERAL priests, etc. We need more priests (and laypersons) who are Christians first, then identify with their designated demographic. I thank God daily that you are a priest in our church, and a woman. Thank you for what you (and Matt, a priest and a Conservative) do for those of who think the Lord's work comes before property rights, MDGs, acceptance of sinful behaviors, and all inclusivity.

Praying for our church --

DCG

Allegra said...

I don't understand what makes the leaders of TEC get up and go every day.

I have to say...I found your original post offensive, but I think this one is worse. Your underlying assumption seems to be that people who disagree with you only serve the church for power.

Can you honestly not comprehend that their own love for God, and faith in Him, could drive them to "get up and go every day"?! That they do what they do because they have prayed and studied and tried to discern God's will as best they can?

How utterly sad.

Anonymous said...

allegra,

the post was not offensive in the least.

Anne has quite rightly pointed out that when an ecclesial organization and/or the various leaders of an ecclesial organization presume to stand over the scriptures rather than under them, the organization then becomes its own measure of truth. There is nothing beyond itself by which to be measured or judged. This is quite simply idolatry, the fashioning of a little god that looks and acts and thinks exactly like the members of the organization itself.

No need to be offended, but I do hope and pray that you and all those who have embraced and teach these false doctrines will repent.

Matt Kennedy

Allegra said...

the post was not offensive in the least.

Excuse me---but you do not get to define what offends me.

when an ecclesial organization and/or the various leaders of an ecclesial organization presume to stand over the scriptures rather than under them, the organization then becomes its own measure of truth. There is nothing beyond itself by which to be measured or judged.

Since when did you join the Roman Catholic Church, Father Kennedy? I am part of the Church Universal, by virtue of my baptism, not an "ecclesial organization," thank you very much.

And it seems as if YOU need to read your own Bible, Father Kennedy. This is what we will be judged by, in the words of our Lord:

Matthew 25: 31-40
31. "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.
32. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
33. and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
34. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35. for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36. I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
37. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
38. And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?
39. And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'
40. And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'


Nothing in there about right belief. Just about loving your neighbor as yourself.

But I'm sure you'll start pulling out Paul at this point, and Mother Kennedy can go on and on about the total depravity of the human race. I fear it is YOUR God who is so little and small and mean.

That's the irony. Mother Kennedy starts out by saying that people in TEC don't believe in grace. It's really you who don't seem to believe in it.

And you certainly do not seem to extend it to anyone outside your own small circle.

Kate said...

Allegra, I believe that you are taking offence where none was offered. Perhaps you are offended because Anne+ made a point that hit a little too close to home? Personally, I think TEC's problem is that, as an organization, it preaches what Bonhoffer would have called cheap grace. Grace without repentance. Anne+, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

Allegra, I do not need to "define you" nor was I seeking too. I do not know you. I do know the Episcopal Church and I was pointing out the corporate consequenses of departing from truth. If you disagree, why not try to present an argument demonstrating why my observation is off base.

And yes, there is nothing about "right belief" in the passage you cite (although you seem to apply it to correct my "wrong belief" which is humorous and ironic at the same time). If you would like to find passages dealing with right belief v. wrong belief, you might begin with perhaps Galatians 1:6-9, then you might move to Titus 1:9, 2nd Peter 2, the entire book of Jude. If you are looking for Gospel references on the topic you might look to Matthew 7:15 or Matthew 18:6-9...there are many more of course.

Thanks for asking

Matt Kennedy

Anonymous said...

I didn't think that your post was "snarky" at all and it is your blog after all. You should be able to say anything you want. If someone disagrees with you, let them get their own blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

Your post was absolutely snarky and offensive to those of us who love Jesus but think of him differently than you do.

You prove your own belief in the "dark mess" that is within you by writing this stuff.

As Malcom says, belief in the Fall does not require belief in the utter depravity of humans. However, it is obvious from the tone of your post that you do.

You are absolutely free to follow the Christian beliefs as articulated by Calvin. You are absolutely not free to cage me or anyone else in by those beliefs. My evangelical credentials are every bit as good as yours. I'm just not Calvinist. Please don't judge me inferior on that basis.

But, to answer you question: What makes the leaders of TEC get up and go every day?

Believe it or not, they love Jesus and His church. They do not believe in Jesus and His church the way YOU believe in Jesus and His church but that does not make their belief counterfeit or any thing less than authentic. It just makes it different.

And, Jesus loves them as much as Jesus loves you.

BTW, is it true that you and your husband have relinquished your orders as Episcopal priests? Perhaps this is the reason the Diocese of CNY referred to you in the respectful fashion of "Mr." or "Ms." but not "Fr." "Mother" or "the Rev'd"

Not being disrespectful, but painfully honest.

I don't say this to inflict more discomfort, but only to ask a question of clarification: If you have relinquished your orders as Episcopal Priests, well, what is your status? Have you been formally accepted by an Anglican Province somewhere? If you have, then surely you are still clergy and deserving of the respect due the office.

Just curios and wanting to be respectful of your status.

Grace said...

Guys,

Maybe this is naive, but is it possible there has been a huge misunderstanding.

I realize that probably most of the leadership of TEC aren't Calvinists. But, this doesn't mean they can't see the reality of human fallenness or the need for God's grace and mercy.

God help me, a person would have to be blind not to realize human brokenness and sin.

And, I'm gettin confused by all these anonymoussss.. They can't all be the same person.

Anonymous said...

wow anonymous, not only do you apparently have no idea what Calvin taught with regard to the fall, you are also under the impression that Anne+ somehow has the desire or power to "cage" you.

Paranoia, apparently, is far more pronounced on the left than I thought.

Matt Kennedy

trog said...

“If the human person is supposed to be basically good, what do you do when there's not enough good in the human person?”

Another good question. Probably not a good answer: emulate Jesus: pray, fast, go to Jerusalem, let yourself be crucified. God will raise you up.

Malcolm+ said...

The problem arises, frankly, when one side of a debate declines any sort of honest engagement and instead sets up and knocks down a straw man caricature of what the other side believes.

There's enough of that on both sides, frankly - although all of us tend to be more sensitive to it when we see it coming from the side we're not on.

The caricature Anne drew in her earlier post was a straw man. In this post she has made some effort to avoid making any straw man at all, but rather just to ask a question.

If I may, Matt, your wife has shown more grace in this than you seem to have.

Kate said...

Malcolm+, she was just trying to ask a question. TEC has gone off the rails much more dramatically than the ACoC has, and really seems to have become high church unitarian. I think she made a very good point. There really are folk like that in TEC and ACoC, and I too wonder why they even bother to get up and get out to church on a Sunday morning.

ottorinophc said...

i feel obligated to go on record here as one who is not a "calvinist" and yet find much sympathy in what matt and anne have been saying here...

malcolm, i'm not a priest, so i lack your study, but i don't understand the difference between what you articulate, that we are mired in sin and in utter need of God and what matt/anne would call total depravity.

well, i "understand" it, but not from your comments here. i would assume (perhaps incorrectly), that since you believe people are essentially good, but mired in sin, we need Jesus as an example, and that is his function as savior. the problem is, that sounds a lot like buddha. i.e., we need god to simply enlighten us so we can do what's right. but my problem with that is it sounds an awful lot like buddhism. for example, when people fell down and started worshiping the buddha, he basically said, no, don't worship me, i'm just the enlightened being who is trying to show you how to be enlightened also. don't look at me, look at my dharma, because that's what essentially important.

the response of jesus, however, when people fell down to worship him, was a bit different. he accepted it. he never said, hey, don't worship me, follow my example. that's because christ was of the utmost importance in his person, not simply as example.

think about this: if you take buddha out of buddhism, it doesn't change. that is, if we were able to prove that buddha never existed, it would not change the essence of what buddhism is about.

if christianity loses christ, however, it changes everything (and i suspect if you do not agree with me on this, we will probably never agree on anything about christianity, except maybe some particularities of liturgical taste). the example christ left is nice, but ultimately, it is the same as every other person we look to as a moral example. there's no reason to pick christianity over any other teaching that has some figure as its central moral example.

this, i suspect, is why many priests and bishops in TEC are willing to accept many other religions as equally valid, because they only view christianity as the particular moral tradition they were brought up in, equally valid with other moral traditions that tell people to be nice, and give to the poor, and be socially just.

i think matt and anne's point is that none of those things happen without christ. those things are great, and essential to our lives as christians, but only because christ was who he was and came when he did.

Grace said...

Trog, maybe there is some confusion about what it really means to be "good." Surely, we are all created in the image and likeness of God, wonderfully made.

But, even the most moral, and loving person falls far short of the perfect love of Christ, and the righteousness of God.

We can't fix ourselves by ourselves. We need a Savior. I think the church has always disagreed concerning the extent of human fallenness.

Some feel that through our brokenness there is still something in us that can freely choose God. Others believe that even the ability to come to Christ is all of God. Faith is a total gift.

But, either way, all Christians agree concerning the work of the cross. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. All praises to His name.

trog said...

Thank you, Grace. I had no confusion. Rather I attempted to answer the question Anne posed.

Malcolm+ said...

Kate - the difference between Anne's second post and her first has to do with the fact that the first asking was attached to a set of assumptions (accusations?) that are, at the very least, matters of contention rather than matters of fact.

Thus, her question was analogous to the old political saw, "does the honourable member still beat his wife?" If the honourable member says "yes," then he's a wife beater. If he says "no," he's a former wife beater.

In her second attempt at the question, there is the possibility of an honest answer in which the person responding is not caught on the horns of a false dichotomy.

Otto, you have, indeed, assumed incorrectly. Indeed, you've made a leap of logic that would defy a theological Evel Knievel.

While human beings may manage to resist the power of sin on a transient basis for a limited amount of time (much like the alcoholic who can stay sober for a few days by white-knuckle willpower), sin can only be defeated by God's grace.

The problem with this whole debate is that controversialists on both sides have been reading their own assumptions into every utterance - and even every omission - of any commentator from the "other side."

Once that happens, it becomes nigh on impossible to engage in any honest discussion that isn't just serial name-calling. "You're a heretic!" "You're a gaybasher!"

I give Anne credit for trying to step back from that precipice.

monkeybaker said...

I'm not targeting you with this comment, I'm just talking about the overall situation: it is sad when believers spend so much time arguing with other believers that they forget to reach out to the non-believers. That's something we all have to be very careful about, no matter what denomination or sect we follow. If the non-believers see us as unable to agree on a set doctrine, then they are going to be less-inclined to listen to anything we say.