Friday, May 8, 2009

It's just raining perspective today!

Facebook message from a friend on the West Coast:

... we dropped the "Lutheran" from our logo etc.... and a sister church in xxxxx used to be First Lutheran... now they changed to xxxxx Christian Church - Their preschool and elementary school did as well.... "

Denominational religion as we know it has run its course in God's plan. Something new is coming to be - not a wholesale rejection of spiritual insights and practices carried by denominations, but a new way of applying them.

As the Head of the Church says,

“Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.” Matthew 13:52


cp said...

Denominational religion as we know it has run its course in God's plan.Maybe for you but not for me. There are things that we can share and develop as a larger Church that are simply impossible without the challenge and opportunity a larger church body allows.

Parish ministry, where we support each other in our day to day lives and walks of faith, is very important, and is rightly getting more emphasis recently than so-called "church politics." But I'm glad people of all faiths can speak out and act corporately with respect to our government and our public discourse about issues of war and peace, social justice, and about the spiritual consequences of our politics and culture.

I also don't believe that "church politics" is a dirty word -- and it is also an essential thing we can do as a corporate Church. It sure beats shouting (or shooting) at each other! I also see this as the true Anglican heritage -- we would do well to cut each other a little more slack!

TLF+ said...

I agree with you that Christianity is intended, by God, to have a witness broader than the local congregation.

The denominations we have now carry many accidents of history and ethnicity that are not necessary to (and can obscure) the Gospel. Like the guy's perception after being baptized in My Big Fat Greek Wedding , "So, I'm Greek now?"

I think that whatever God puts together will, by the very nature of the body of Christ, involve relationships and fellowships that link God's people across old divisions. Our tradition has to help discern the right meaning and application of episkopos , Biblical oversight, but this will be about the spiritual quality rather than forced claims of "apostolic succession."

But what's going on in TEC and the Anglican Communion right now is manifestly destructive. People are fighting over titles, authority, property - we are doing all the things Jesus told his apostles to avoid. If there's anything positive, it is hard to see. It might be that God is shaking the Anglican/Episcopal edifice apart to leave visible a few solid bits of material upon which to rebuild.

The new construction is probably different from anything in our imagination at this point. I certainly make no claim to see what will be. But the current ways of doing things in TEC and the AC are not building up God's people or honoring God.

No, we are not shooting at each other (although if we belive the Sermon on the Mount, the level of hatred we've all managed to express makes us murderers at heart). But Jesus made room for people to walk away, graciously. There were spats among the apostles that caused temporary separations, but left room for reconciliation and shared ministry.

So we will see various fragmentations (I think there will be multiple "Anglican" groups for quite some time). But the separations will be hostile and chaotic, not gracious and by charitable agreement.

And that's OK, I'm coming to believe. God is glorified if we repent of division and find unity; God is glorified if dead and withered branches are burned and fruitful brances are pruned to abundance.