VI. The End
I believe I have related this anecdote once before but I wish to do so again.
Picture a courtroom. You/me/we are the defendants. God, in the person of the Father is the judge. We are accused of falling short of the mark, of being sinners (and tax collectors). Of not living up to all the commandments and all the covenants. The Father, in perfect JUSTICE finds we are indeed guilty. But then something truly unique and transforming happens. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, comes down from the bench and stands next to me/you/us. He, Jesus, accepts the verdict on our behalf and absorbs the punishment for our (yours/mine/our) failings. That is perfect MERCY.
This concluding segment would have been so much easier if many in the current crowd at Lambeth (and some pretending not to be at Lambeth) had not decided to muck it up. One of the very first management skills I learned when I was younger was when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Too bad many of our Bishops slept through that portion of the course.
When I began this series I read with enthusiasm this lecture and quietly said to myself, “Self, this is what we really need. A cool, level headed re-thinking of our respective positions and then a coming together of all the factions in love and charity to reinvigorate the communion. “ Something like what has happened over and over again in our past. Something not unlike what ++Rowan Williams appears to be proposing. I like discussion, discussion is good and no one gets hurt.
It would have been so much easier if I were not an American or at least growing up in the American experience. You see, years and years ago someone wrote that “all men are created equal”. It has taken us centuries to get where we are today but we are not willing to give that idea up and we are not willing to be bullied and we are growing less willing to backslide. Because of all of that and then some we have some of the most cosmopolitan/heterogeneous populations in the world and we are liking that more and more. With this unique experience comes the self-proclaimed idea that each of us must guide and guard these precious ideas. It is also very true that the rest of the world does not share our experience, our history, our philosophy, or approach to oppression or our approach to self-correction. It is also true that despite our best efforts to bring this form of self-expression to the world we have failed miserably. Our ideas, and philosophy from the social contract to utilitarianism to civil rights and all that that entails are just not easily exported as we have seen. I do believe that most of the rest of the world sees what we have publicly demonstrated, our commitment to economic superiority and our world-wide drive to maintain that superiority. As a result three things are apparent. First, most everyone in the world would like very much to acquire and maintain that same standard of living. Second, most of the rest of the world sees the US as a big bully in our attempt to maintain this economic superiority. Third, our social ideals seem incongruent with our stated economic superiority and for some reason we as a people cannot overcome that vision.
The Reverend Cameron says the compass rose points to the east and encourages us look to what the Roman Church is doing with Pope Benedict XVI at the helm.
“Of the two billion Christians in the world today, half are Roman Catholics. … There seems to be little doubt that in his ministry, Pope Benedict has indicated a preference for ecumenical engagement with the Orthodox Churches of the East.”
This again is not new. Back in the 1890s there was this same interest in renewal of unions with other denominations. Manross states, “Efforts towards Catholic reunion have therefore, for the present to be concentrated upon cooperation with the Eastern Church, and with such western groups as retain the episcopal succession and other features of the Catholic tradition without submitting to the Pope.”
Been there done that.
Here is what has been forgotten or conveniently overlooked.
“To the long list of heresies bravely resisted by the church --- Docetism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Patrinpassionism, and so on- a new one is added in 1899, sounding very strange in this exotic company: Americanism.” (pg. 202, Why I Am A Catholic, Gary Wills).
In Testem Benevolentiae (1899) Leo XIII goes on to say,
“License mistaken for liberty; an appetite for discussion and criticism; a readiness, ultimately, to think whatever one wants to and to publish it – these have so involved men’s minds in confusion that the teaching authority of the church is more than ever needed to call people back to their beliefs and duties.”(pg. 203, Why I Am A Catholic, Wills).
At the same time Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus (1893) stated, “it would be impious to confine the truth of inspiration to certain parts of the holy writings to grant that the inspired author ever erred . . . For all books accepted in the sacred canon are, throughout and in every part, written at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is so impossible for error to insinuate itself into divine inspiration that the latter if itself precludes and rejects all error, by the same necessity that prevents God, the highest truth, from issuing any untruth.” (pg. 201, Wills).
And not surprisingly, the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement now echoes these statements.
We now will end with Greg's eloquent statement, but look closely for his quote is not this quote. He got it almost right.
“…the Compass Rose points to here (my heart), and there (to your heart) and everywhere (to all Anglicans) calling us– (not to the centre but) - to the cross wherein God’s love is revealed to the world.”
This mercy, once delivered, requires that we treat each and every human being sinners and tax collectors included, as a creature of God’s own making. Not just all men but all people are created equal—
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I wish mercy for us all. I wish mercy for myself. I want so very much for us all to worship and exchange the peace and receive the Lord under one big tent. But more than that, I an required to extend as much mercy to everyone as I can muster in the sure and certain hope that it will be returned to me 70 fold. If that means I must absorb the invasion of my church by those who would pirate and trade on peoples fears and hatreds then so be it. If it means that the church splits apart or stays together, so be it. If it means that we talk until the year 2525 (there is a quarter in this reference to anyone that gets it) so be it. I will go anywhere and meet with anyone at any time and talk as long as it takes to come to terms with this idea but this idea is not just an idea, it must include true representation from the LGBT community, and it is not negotiable and it is not postpone-eable and it is not trade-able.