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Love Divine, All Loves Embracing

This is a guest post by Chris Fewings, who says he “is a not-very-faithful Anglican, glad of the welcome offered by the Church of England to drifters“. He writes at http://www.chris.fewin.gs./. He prefaces his post with the following:

“I was delighted to be offered to contribute to Lay Anglicana and so clarify my own thoughts on two current debates. I offer this reflection in the hope of learning more through dialogue.

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Some argue that disputes about same-sex relationships and women bishops are distractions from the central message of Christianity. I’m not so sure. What does the church have to offer? At its best, an invitation to humankind to explore together the witness of the one who stretched wide his arms for us on the cross. Jesus was counter-cultural in defying religious authority, undermining rigid interpretations of scripture, including women and foreigners and outcasts, and inviting us to search our hearts rather than our rule books.

In the sixties, an unmarried mother, or indeed a black person, would have been enough to have many Anglicans shuffling uneasily in the pews. Far from being counter-cultural, religious beliefs often reflect the prejudices of their time. Even Luther became rabidly anti-Semitic. Even some Quakers once owned slaves. Large organisations with an ageing leadership are often slow to respond to changes in the conscience of a nation, but why is the church particularly slow?

Because it can appeal to a higher authority, variously invoked as God, the Bible, Tradition, and in our case, the worldwide Anglican Communion. However, many scholars have brought learning, humility and reason to bear in painstakingly teasing out historical accidents from the great tradition of love incarnate, which is the best of the church in all times and all places.

So let’s imagine a little of what love might mean to us now as we seek a Christian response to a changing culture, new understandings of human nature, new legal frameworks, and the challenge of sharing a global village with sincere Christians who reject gay relationships and women’s ordination. Christians in the first century, the fourth century, the sixteenth century pondered, debated, and evolved: so will we.

First, let’s stop de-sexing the love of God. We might start with gender. Beyond the talk of Jesus’ all-male apostles (they were also all Jewish) there is the fact that Jesus was male and unmarried, and a hint that God is usually, conventionally, or mainly male. In the fourteenth century an Englishwoman of quite exceptional insight wrote that as truly as God is our father, so just as truly he is our mother. (She even wrote of Jesus as mother.) A subtle undercurrent of the motherliness of God is common to the Abrahamic faiths. But most Christians keep this insight peripheral. God can be mother occasionally perhaps, but “just as truly” is psychologically unsettling. Exploring this dimension of God is a growth point for faith.

And let’s add sexuality and passion back into the love of God. A friend wrote a book with the working title, Is God Sexy? The publisher couldn’t pre-sell the title to Christian bookshops, so it was changed. They had found the ‘Christian’ answer to the question before a page of the book was read. We’re told the Song of Songs is an allegory of the love of God. So let’s go there. Let’s read it and get stuck in, and let God seduce us.

Second, let’s refine our understanding of love as welcome. Oppressed people get damaged by power, but we’re selective about which kinds of oppressed or previously oppressed groups we welcome into church, and on what terms. Some kinds of oppression are particularly damaging because they try to preclude solidarity by isolating the victims. Those of us who now recognise that committed gay relationships were once made furtive and extremely difficult by legal and social norms need to open wide our arms, not only to individuals, but to gay couples holding hands, celebrating their love, if not in same-sex marriages then in public blessings which flaunt this divine gift of commitment to each other, this fulfilment of created sexual excitement.

Third, let’s explore the effect of oppression on the oppressor. Oppression uses power to block love, which seeks to flow. Love’s risky. It usually entails loss and pain. I block the love in me for safety, but find myself drying out, because the economy of love and loss engenders new life. Withdrawing from this economy, unacknowledged loss and pain become fossilised in me – and may turn to hate.

And lastly, let’s face the painful possibility of greater distance between churches. Facing the possibility doesn’t mean seeking it. Our starting point should be that the churches don’t own God. She’s a loose cannon as well as a lawgiver. She gives religious leaders the slip at the top of cliffs. She’s found more outside the church than in it. If your partner said to you, ‘I want to stay with you forever, so you must never let your Jewish friends in my house again’, you might want to re-think the relationship from the ground up. You would start with discussion. You might go to a counsellor. You would question your own values and priorities. But in the end you might be forced to choose.

And in that moment you would need love more than ever, the hard sort. You might be tempted to fury or hate or contempt, or you might want to exercise your power over the other, to force them into line, or push them out. But maybe in the end, for the sake of the children, or for the sake of the rest of your life, you would get on your knees and cry to Love itself for compassion to break through, like a blind man in a crowd who is sure that there’s someone out there who can transform him.

This is no time for entrenched positions. It’s a time to step out of the boat onto the waves, fixing our eyes on love, daring to learn from each other.

 

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The illustration is a 12th century Oranta Eastern Orthodox icon (with METER THEOU “Mother of God”) monograms from the Ukraine. Via wikimedia.

 

32 comments on this post:

Alan said...
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mmmm. It seems to me the most important thing Jesus taught was “love and care for one another”. And I take it he meant Everyone 🙂

Lay Anglicana said...
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Absolutely! Strange that it seems hard for some to grasp this message?

15 July 2012 07:45
15 July 2012 07:40
Anne said...
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This morning I took communion according to the BCP rite, celebrated very formally, with a preached sermon, with people who made me very welcome, but all of them were very like me – middle class, heterosexual, towards the elderly end of the age spectrum, WASP.
Last Sunday I took Communion in a Methodist Church in a very informal rite, gathered around a table like a family, with not so much a sermon as a discussion, lead by several different people, with a congregation which made me very welcome, and which included a young gay couple and their two small daughters.
Both were good, but it was the second that will remain in my memory, which reduced me to tears, and which made me feel I was closer to the God revealed to us in Jesus of Nazareth.

Chris Fewings said...
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I’m not sure why churches which celebrate familiar liturgical forms tend to be very hierarchical. I for one feel at home in such forms and more able to let things happen in me, than when I feel we’re making the forms up as we go along. Of course, some churches with very informal styles are very rigorous in their interpretation of the Bible and may be exclusively male-led and socially conservative.

15 July 2012 12:23
15 July 2012 10:42
richard haggis said...
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The difficult thing in all these debates is temperament. Some people enjoy the up-in-the-air maelstrom of change and challenge, others detest it and are made to feel insecure and unstable, as if nothing can be relied on. The more fundamentally conservative types tend to do best in hierarchies, and to have their views supported most loudly and conspicuously, partly because they can express them simply and firmly, whereas those of a more liberal disposition might not actually have made up their minds before the conversation has moved on. I’m at a loss to suggest how we work together for the Good News on this one, although I find most compelling the witness of those who have changed their minds. (I say this as someone who used to be – and may still partly be – racist, sexist, and homophobic, to name only a few of my lapses as a disicple).

Chris Fewings said...
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I agree that temperament has a large part to play. Perhaps the only way forward is listening, sometimes to people we don’t feel like listening to, without trying to score points. I think it’s important for people like me who can get quite strident about including gay couples, for example, to come clean about how their beliefs have evolved: until my 20s I thought that all gay relationships were wrong. But I heard the opposite view so I started reading about other Christian interpretations, and changed my mind. It surprises me that some church leaders with ample opportunities to study different interpretations of the Biblical texts and new psychological understandings seem so reluctant to change their minds.

15 July 2012 12:33
15 July 2012 10:54
Harold Gardner said...
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Seems that Jesus largely stood against the hierarchy then, and would likely do that again today. He loved and touched folks who were untouchable & despised by society then; he still does today. The church simply needs to determine if it is the church of polite society or the church of that trouble making carpenter.

15 July 2012 11:31
Harold Gardner said...
Chris Fewings said...
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That’s an interesting article, though it seems to throw all current departures from Christian ‘tradition’ into one bag. I put tradition in inverted commas, because there have always been voices in the churches challenging conventions, even apparently fundamental things like what we mean by God, and these voices are often eventually accepted as profound and true by church authorities.

15 July 2012 13:00
15 July 2012 12:16
Joyce said...
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How nice and uplifting it is to read mentions of Jesus.
I’m sure the reason they crop up so little is that we all take the fact of one another’s faith for granted,thus enabling us to talk about organisational matters and arrangements,but it’s refreshing all the same.
I don’t recall discomfort at the presence of unmarried mothers or black people in pews in the sixties,by the way. I asked myself why and then realised it was because we didn’t know of any. Black people would have been plainly noticeable anywhere but if there were unmarried mothers or gay people there was no way of knowing who they were. In Britain the norm was to keep one’s private life private and to mind one’s own business so far as sexual matters were concerned. I’ve never in my life seen couples holding hands in church either except for brief moments when their banns were read although I have seen perfect strangers being hugged. :)I have never known of anyone being rejected by a church apart from a violent drunk once who tried to stop the service.
Thank you,Chris, for such a clear and comprehensible blog post.Very good points. In The Thirty Nine Articles it says that faith and practice might need to vary as knowledge widens and culture changes. It is vital to examine whether we are applying judgement and morality in our life based on true Biblical imperatives and sound information or on what is currently fashionably acceptable.
I like Richard’s point that we are different in temperament as individuals while we have one faith.The Church although founded on one rock is built of millions of human beings who keep changing. I’ve tended to think of taste and temperament in relation to style of worship and churchmanship but now Richard points it out I can see that it has a bearing on social and organisational attitudes to Church too.

Chris Fewings said...
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I started attending an Anglican church in the 1980s whose Barbadian church warden remembered being rejected at the same church because of his colour in the 1960s. In time, this attitude was challenged from within, and it reputedly became the first church with a black majority on the PCC.

I’m not a big fan of holding hands in church, by the way – as you seem to imply, it can exclude others, and we’re there as one body – I was speaking of blessings of couples (including weddings), of what is ‘allowed’, and figuratively.

16 July 2012 22:46
15 July 2012 12:31
Derek Wright said...
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Thank you, Chris – while sexual morality is still important, sexuality is not considered an issue in itself by an inceasing number of Christians. I’d love to say it was a sign of increasing tolerance but I work in a secular largely female enviroment that has a small homophobic minority. While many church -attenders see inclusion as a matter of “with keeping up with the rest of society” the real matter is honest spiritual formation & comprehensive study of scripture & theology that in my opnion allows & promotes inclusion. While this issues is important many Britons in recent surveys said they either hate or fear the poor, I think Christians of all orientations should challenge our churches on this issue as well.

Chris Fewings said...
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I agree with you. Jesus’ inclusiveness was all-inclusive, but challenged excluders (harshly at times). Not an easy act to follow.

I have one caveat. Some of our church leaders seem to be much better at challenging exclusion in society than in the church, which surely undermines some of their moral authority.

17 July 2012 12:05
15 July 2012 12:44
UKViewer said...
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I suspect that Anne’s comments about her experience in a Methodist service stands out for me. We gather together as a loving family in Christ’s name to do a family thing, eat, drink and socialise together. In fact to gossip to an extent around the dining table. The family, like wider society has differences, but puts them aside due to the love that they share and somehow, hang together in unity – their differences being much less important than their shared love for one another. Love for God through Jesus Christ being the binding agent.

In these situations, presentation takes a back seat and perhaps implicit is that understanding of each other that can only exist in a close knit, loving family. That would be my idea of the church we aspire to be.

To me, Anne’s experience reflects that in so many ways. Welcome as being love expressed between strangers as Chris portrays it.

United, loving families are affected by the external, politics, money, work or lack of it, economics. Somehow they overcome these, sharing together, supporting each other and helping others in love and charity to become one with them. This should be our mission and evangelism – smaller, local families, welcoming, loving united, sharing and supportive to one another, and tolerating differences as another expression of Gods creative love.

There are elders in such families, who share wisdom and gentle leadership to preserve their unity and seeking to allow younger members to thrive and to grow within the wider family. These elders may be naturally selecting and may not be the parent or grandparent, but someone who God has gifted with the talents to lead. Other family members will bring their gifts and the fruits of the spirit (in Paul’s words) to the mix, making all that the family does, cohesive and in tune with the voice of God, heard in prayer and life through the Holy Spirit.

I can remember in my childhood hearing very much hearing and understanding the Concept of the ‘Holy Family’, Joseph, Mary and Jesus (and his brothers and sisters) as the model for all Christian families. They had their ups and downs, and produced through Jesus a leader, teacher for all of us. While people might think that this concept is outdated, I believe that this could be the model for my vision of Church. The father and mother figures, equally nurturing the children to grow into mature, sensitive, sharing and loving adults.

I hear much about discipleship and have even attended a course about it – the core of the content was about the family I speak off, joined and supported by grace and love for and from Jesus Christ.

Now, the challenge for me is how can I transform our own church in this way with the help of the Holy Spirit?

Anne said...
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“We gather together as a loving family in Christ’s name to do a family thing, eat, drink and socialise together. In fact to gossip to an extent around the dining table.”
That is exactly how the presbyter ‘taking’ the communion service introduced it!

15 July 2012 17:20
15 July 2012 14:12
Erika Baker said...
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For me, the big question is how we should treat those who disagree with us. All the traditions listed in the article are welcoming to those who fit into their ethos. In that, they are very much alike.

To a greater or lesser extent, all churches discern what is moral and what isn’t, and then welcome everyone within their moral framework.

What we really need is a church that can accept those who disagree with its definitions of what is moral without wanting to change that person to fit into the accepted fold, without saying or thinking “let’s see if we can get you to sin no more”.

How do we do that?

Chris Fewings said...
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Could you say a little more about what you mean by moral, Erica? If, for example, some people in a church think gay relationships are immoral, and others think it’s immoral to exclude people in gay relationships, I guess they could sit side by side, uncomfortably, in the pews. Current Anglican/Epsicopalian problems have arisen over how far I need to distance myself from people with different moralities. If I accept communion from, or listen quietly to the teaching of these “immoral” people, am I colluding in their perceived immorality?

It’s gone a step further. For some, it’s not enough to steer clear of the ministry of the “opposition” and vociferously affirm what I believe. What about the suppliers’ suppliers, or the friends of my friends? Am I colluding in immorality by buying vegan food from non-vegans, or accepting ministry from a bishop who reluctantly was consecrated by a woman, or attending a church whose sister churches bless gay partnerships? (I’m not trying to make that position look ridiculous – I might admire someone who, for example, not sold their shares in an arms company, but boycotted goods from companies which invested in arms companies.)

It’s not new for Christians to divide into hermetically sealed organisations when they disagree. What strikes me as odd in current Anglicanism is the determination of many to stay under the overall aegis of a church they think is wrong, yet be as hermetic as they can within that. And the response from our Archbishops in England? To my mind, a zany Voltairism “We may disagree with you, but we will fight to the death for your right to exclude those who agree with us.”

The only thing I can suggest to move the debate on is a focus on the opposing forces within each individual, rather than between people. Was Jesus railing against Pharisees (who were often sincere religious reformers) or Pharisaism? If I look into my own heart, what parts of myself do I want to shut down? My feminine side? My sexual impulses? Or am I impelled by a desire to rebel against authority, or feel I belong by making common cause with people close to me?

We may also need to deepen our understanding of the meaning of power, in the light of Jesus’ life and teaching.

I sure hope someone replies to this! I could do with some help.

Erika Baker said...
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Chris,
I am not sure how to express this, it’s very tentative thinking.
One of my great influences is James Alison who applies Girard’s mimetic theory to theology and, to my mind, comes up with astonishing new slants. There is this lovely essay on prayer http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng54.html that develops what I believe to be a new look at what it means to be counter cultural.

So often, I experience the church as focusing on morals rather than on developing our relationship with God, which is back to front, because it is only in and through that relationship that we develop morally.

I don’t see the mystics of our faiths arguing about who is in and who is out, they don’t on the whole lecture newcomers to the faith in the right moral approach to life. It’s not that they’re immoral or not interested in morals, but they are not prime focus. Rather, God is the prime focus. And everything flows from there.

I hear Christians argue strongly against any kind of liberal attitude to sex, insisting that we have to be counter cultural.
But all they are being is the flip side of the same culture they’re criticising with such passion.

In James Alison’s words, they define themselves over and against the surrounding society.
Whereas we need to define ourselves solely with a view to God if we are to grow.

People who focus on God together can note moral differences between each other, and they can talk about them and exchange views. But they are unlikely to invest so much energy in trying to get the other to conform, whether that is to a conservative world view or a liberal one or any other.

We are setting ourselves up as the policemen of people’s morals and attitudes, claiming our interpretation of God’s will as that which authorises us to become policemen.

I think the challenge is to move away from that completely, to opt out of defining ourselves over and against each other, or believing that being counter cultural is simply to hold an opposing view on cultural questions.

The best churches I have been to already do this. The emphasis is on prayer and on how to expand our understanding of God. There is very little talk of contemporary moral issues, it is accepted that morality is a much broader concept than the outward holding of certain views, and that “we are all sinners” taken seriously has a very very deep meaning that should stop us from even wanting to claim the judgement seat from God.

Faith then becomes very individualistic, because as you rightly say, we then deal personally with every individual, helping them to seek a life that is fulfilling and God-filled for them. But at the same time we become more corporate, because we are genuinely open to others, to learning from each other, to becoming part of the society around us.
It’s that paradox that I so admire about culture of monastic living – an almost exclusive focus on God that results in a very deep engagement with life and those around us.

That has to be the way forward and out of our current muddle.

Am I making any sense?

Chris Fewings said...
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I’m looking forward to studying the text by James Alison. I guess I can best picture the kind of church you describe by imagining thev pray-ers focusing on the self-emptying of Jesus. The only hesitation I have is the need to affirm our God-given sexuality in church – I don’t mean sexual orientation, just the fact that we, however we do or don’t express it, are sexual beings. (Presumably Yeshua was too.) If it’s not appropriate to bless gay sexuality in church, I suggest that we straight people should not be married in church, as I’ve written on my blog.

Erika Baker said...
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Chris, I would agree that personally, I need a church that afirms me fully. This isn’t just about sexuality, but about my day to day life with all its ups and downs, about my wife, my children, my friends.
But I think there are two issues here. One is the personal, where I would need an inclusive church, but the other is the overriding question of how we can break through the current deadlock and become that different church that affirms everyone.
And “everyone” goes beyond sexuality even. I have disabled friends who struggle with some shocking attitudes from a shockingly large number of churches, for example.

And I believe that the only way we can break the deadlock is by changing our approach, by focusing on God together and being open to what then happens.
People who do this tend to become more and more open to the world around them.
I believe this can work for churches too, and maybe ultimately for The Church.

17 July 2012 08:19
Chris Fewings said...
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Erika, I’m now picturing people who identify with Forward in Faith and people who identify with Affirming Catholicism sitting together in silence in the presence of the blessed sacrament, for a week, as a prelude to any talking!

17 July 2012 08:50
Anne said...
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Chris, trouble is the C of E is more complicated than that. People who identify with Reform or Anglican Mainstream would not want to sit in front of the Sacrament – they would see it as idolatry.

It is how we keep these different ‘extremes’ and all threads in between together that is our problem.

17 July 2012 08:58
Erika Baker said...
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I do think, though, that we are coming to the point where we all realise that the “is it moral or not” questions have not brought us solutions we can live with and no peace. It is becoming more and more obvious that a change of question is needed.

We all have our different approaches but I am always surprised how different routes bring the same result, and so there are Affirming Evangelicals, Liberal Anglo-Catholics, and tolerante Liberals.
And the one thing they all have in common is a focus on what God wants from us, rather than on how we should judge the morals of others.

So to me, as a contemplative, the answer is prayer to focus on getting guidance from God and on being shaped by him.
To my evangelical friends, the answer is bible study, but still with the aim of discovering what God wants for *their* lives and not with the question of what he wants for other people’s lives, nor with the attitude of searching Scripture for weapons to use against others.

The practical question to be answered instead of “is it moral” would then become “considering that I believe the others to be desperately wrong, what does Scripture tell me about my role? How am I to engage with those I believe to be wrong”?

And again, that question properly explored and lived will lead to a new reality of engaging with each other, because again we end up dealing with individuals who require an individual response.

We need to get out of our heads, away from the theoretical and into engaging with actual real live complex individuals for our rigid boundaries to melt.

17 July 2012 09:51
Chris Fewings said...
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Anne, I would also have seen that as idolatrous in my childhood – I grew up in a non-conformist evangelical environment, and I thought most Anglicans were not real Christians because they just read prayers from books! Liberal Christians were the worst, a kind of Trojan horse. Interestingly, I think I began to understand better what it meant to “let Jesus into my heart” when I started to practise the Orthodox prayer of the name.

For me, it has become a matter of speaking different ‘languages’ (I’m trying to remember what Paul said about adjusting to the mindset of his listeners) as I’ve written about at http://fewin.gs/g1 . To quote myself (!) “What are we to make of fundamentalism finding security in its certainty that the opposing camp is wrong? Is there a non-pejorative word for that in the language of pluralism?”

I have no answer. But I agree with Erika’s point about engaging with real live people. I learnt about Orthodoxy because an Orthodox convert made a deep impression on me. I learnt to love liturgy by walking into an Anglican church and finding my prejudice overturned. Virginia Moffatt, writing on the Tablet blog as a practising married RC, changed her mind about gay people by listening to their stories http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/335/17

17 July 2012 12:35
Chris Fewings said...
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Anne, I meant to add that I have always carried that evangelical childhood inside me and draw on its resources as much as I ever did. But we’re back to Richard Haggis’ point about temperament and security – a dialectic way of growing in faith doesn’t suit everybody!

17 July 2012 13:20
16 July 2012 22:14
16 July 2012 10:32
16 July 2012 09:41
16 July 2012 06:28
UKViewer said...
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I’m not sure that I would want to cut myself from any one or any part of the church that I might disagree with. It seems to me that if I did so, I would be cutting myself off from our ability to continue to talk and listen and it would constitute in my painting myself into a corner with no way out.

I believe that we learn and grow from our interaction with others, whether or not we are comfortable with their views or outlook. In the context of faith or religious belief, we can’t give up on people, because if we do, we are excluding them (not them excluding us). If we are not open to change or seeing another’s point of view, we exclude ourselves.

The argument used for example by those against the ordination of women is that we are abandoning the agreement that two integrities would be allowed and respected within the church in favour of one integrity being favoured (liberals) their argument is flawed because they would do exactly that if we took on board their argument. What is needed is clarity, all sides being open to the grace and insight given by the Holy Spirit that if we worship and love God we can’t do it separately, we do it together as the Body of Christ.

Jesus predicted that families would be divided by his good news, meaning in my view, those who accept it and those who refuse to accept it. Speaking in the light of scriptures and the history of the Jewish race, where it’s denial of God and his covenant had led them from disaster to disaster. But the Holy Spirit took Peter and the Disciples wider to preach to the Gentiles. The good news is for all of mankind. The new covenant was laying the framework for the future, where divisions wouldn’t exist, all we had to do was to take up his cross and follow him to be one with the father.

It seems to me that one of the great issues is the complexity that has arisen from the days of the early church, where the family concept was central. Men have organised and institutionalised faith and religion, because they like things to be organised and it seems to be within our nature. I have heard is said that this was due to the relative positions as male and female. Male was created first, with women being created from one of Adam’s ribs. This must mean that man is always first. I’ve also heard it said that in Jesus’ day, women were the home makers, fulfilling a subordinate role to men. Yet, in the Gospels we hear of vibrant and strong women as disciples, accompanying Jesus throughout his ministry. It was a woman who first saw Jesus after the resurrection. Somehow, the relegation of women to a subordinate position doesn’t fit in my mind with that evidence. After all, the Gospels were written by men, who were indoctrinated by the prevailing religious culture and mores of their society. It’s inevitable in that case that they might be inherently sexist.

This history seems to me to have created tradition and ways of thinking and acting and of dominating others and establishing artificial positions of power and authority, which they are reluctant to cede to women. There is more than enough evidence of this from those who would exclude women from all positions of responsibility in secular life, relegating them to the duties of mother and carer, saying that is their true vocation.

Power is said to corrupt those who wield it. It needs to be used wisely by those entrusted with it and shared appropriately between people who are called to work within it. Our perceptions of the relative positions of people in our society have developed radically in recent decades. We no longer have a ‘class system’ of any consequence. Women and those less able have been allowed to blossom and to develop and have demonstrated their capability for leadership in so many spheres – which is good. Now is the time to extend that to senior leadership positions in the church.

To me, it’s not about fairness. It’s about respecting each individuals unique integrity in the eyes of God and allowing their gifts to be used as widely as possible to increase the mission of God and to bring the Kingdom of God closer. I off course, extend this to LGBT people in exactly the same way.

Chris Fewings said...
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Thanks for your thoughts on the first Christian century, and also on power. The exaggerated authority we sometimes give to church leaders makes the debate on who can stand on the other side of the altar, or occupy the cathedra in a cathedral, more heated. I’ve said elsewhere on Lay Anglicana that every celebration of the Eucharist is a concelebration, and questioned the continued use of fourth century thrones and crowns for bishops. If we can pull these priests and bishops back down to earth, they’ll be arguing over which of them is qualified to join the laity!

17 July 2012 09:36
16 July 2012 14:00
Alan Wilson said...
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A wonderful and perceptive attempt to reframe the issues that embarrass us as potential sources of blessing! It seems what we need to do is see each other differently, in a more consistent way, more aligned to the teaching of Jesus.

Chris Fewings said...
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Naturally, any bishop who says such nice things can ignore my reply to UK Viewer above, and is more than welcome to a throne and a crown!

17 July 2012 10:14
17 July 2012 07:26
Philip Swan said...
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A few thoughts. I appreciate this discussion – thanks Chris.
I often quote Lucy Winkett who speaks of our need to ‘learn to disagree well’. It seems the ‘two integrities’ (why only two – and not an endless plurality of integrities?) model encourages us to respect those with whom we disgree. For me recognising that I am ‘In Christ’ with those with whom I disagree and those who irritate me etc is very helpful.
I was a little intrigued by Andrew Brown’s press comment in latest Church Times in which he says with reference to the women bishop’s measure:
‘For what my opinion is worth, I reckon something did happen at the Synod: the idea of ‘two integrities’ was decisively rejected. It is perhaps the central tenet of Anglicanism that you can be Anglican and wrong. (yes that what he wrote) On those terms, no one is trying to persecute the traditionalists. But what is no longer on offer is the pretence that there are two ways of being Anglican and right about this issue’.

Chris Fewings said...
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Dualism has a lot to answer for Philip!

I’m confused by the term ‘two integrities’. Does it mean ‘respecting those who differ’ or does it mean ‘a church within a church’? (I hope the latter term isn’t offensive to Forward in Faith – it’s not my wish to offend.)

Erika Baker said...
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Two Integrities seems to mean different things to different people.
I recently read an analysis that stated that, initially, it simply meant “2 valid ways of looking at an issue”. So unlike other moral debates, where one view is usually eventually found to be immoral (pro slavery, against black equality, against women’s equality), believing that women cannot be priest is a respectable view.
That in itself conferred no special status on those who held that view.

But people have interpreted it to mean that both views must be equally provided for in the CoE, hence the flying bishops, hence the renewed debate about an ever more hermetically sealed church within a church now.

17 July 2012 10:12
17 July 2012 09:53
17 July 2012 07:42

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