Friday, October 06, 2006

I Believe

Among the publications I read are Nevertheless - A Texas Church Review and Encompass (a publication of the AAC). Nevertheless is a decidedly liberal publication frequently featuring articles by The Rev. Bill Coats of the Diocese of Newark. Encompass, as one might expect, is just as decidedly conservative, being the American Anglican Council's newsletter. While both have some valid thoughts, I am bothered by both publications.

Issues involving our Church seem to have reached the point where there MUST be a winner and loser and neither side gives a damn about the other's opinions, thoughts or theology, nor do they want to dialogue; they only want their own way. In my experience, these opinions, thoughts and theology go well beyond one's interpretation of human sexuality and extend to the very core of our beliefs as Christians. And that's where I begin having problems.

This blurb started out to be an opinion "that both sides of these issues need to back off and let time work things out through a process of discernment". I believe that's still a valid point. But then, I think about some of the wider beliefs of the ultra liberal side I've recently read and began thinking about the Creeds we recite Sunday after Sunday.

"I Believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary and made man, was crucified, died, buried and thereafter rose from the dead" (paraphrased). From my point of view, it seems some of the more liberal folks in our Church don't really agree with those concepts. They see Jesus, the Christ, as "metaphorical" and not as God made man, come to offer atonement for His creation. I opine we have now begun stepping on very dangerous ground. The Church is founded on the belief of a crucified and risen Christ. Can we truly be so bold as to say that everything in the discerned history of the Christian church is subject to change as we, today, decide? I have a serious problem in some current theologians determining what really happened, particularly when it flies in the face of 2000 years of learning and understanding. Just because the Incarnation cannot be proven as a scientific reality does not make it invalid, why else call it faith? One must believe that Divine Inspiration was at work throughout time; including the Great Church Councils which developed and quantified our faith and not that some "inspired mind" today has the true path as some of our most liberal leadership would today have us believe.

It occurs that when someone begins questioning God being made man in the form of Jesus, one begins moving away from Christianity into some other belief system. If that's the case, let's call it what it is, and not try and foist it off as merely different thought within the Christian church.

Having taken on the liberals let me now take a shot at the conservatives. As Christians, we are an evolving people and our faith should exist in light of that evolution. Certainly, modern scholarship provides insight into history and neither should we reject current understandings. As an Episcopalian, I don't have to believe everything that my brother or sister sitting across the pew from me does. We are asked to be a thinking and learning people who are not bound up by the 613 Laws of the Old Testament. We are asked to study, to learn and to grow as a result of those labors. Amen, "let it be so".

But ultimately, we are called to be followers of Jesus, the Christ. When it becomes that we reject or sublimate Him, we are rejecting and sublimating Christianity itself and then, my friends, we are no longer believers.


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