Sunday, March 26, 2006

Who'd be a Bishop?

You’ve got to feel a little sorry for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the leading churchman in the UK. According to an article in The Times, 25 March 2006, he will be overseeing ‘secret’ crisis talks to try and avert schism in his organisation. At the same time as being the focus for Anglican unity, he has to carry the weight of being the 'cleverest of churchmen’. Williams is certainly clever. Read his excellent book on Arius if you need proof of that. But what does it say about Christianity if its most highly educated and literate thinkers receive the kind of admiration that Jasper Gerard provides in the Sunday Times, 26 March 2006? Gerard asks serious questions in a short piece, questions that no prominent church people ever seem to answer with any clarity.
The reason for this lack of clarity is simply the fear of schism, it has nothing to do with the difficulty of the questions being asked. Church people tend to mimic politicians in their ability to offer many words in answer to simple questions. When I read Christian responses to the Tsunami crisis I was amazed at the empty words that failed to declare God’s oversight over the situation, yet suggested that this was an opportunity for human nature to show its true goodness. How does human goodness answer questions about the activity of God unless we deny the reality or divinity of God? (I am not unaware that many Christians would try to answer this question with reference to the person of Jesus Christ, but wasn’t he the Son of God, the Word who was with God from the beginning, and was God?)
There is a relatively clear distinction between conservative and liberal Christians, even if each of those two labels cover many trends and traditions. It just happens that Williams is faced with a time when the problems over sexuality in the church are becoming practical rather than theoretical. Nothing has really changed otherwise. For at least the last two centuries the mainstream churches have been unable to agree a definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The last century of doctrinal debate in the Church of Scotland has managed to fudge every serious question about the interpretation of its confession of faith. (See my essay on the Church of Scotland and its confession of faith.)
The consequence, it seems, is that pressure groups become the only christian voice heard. The churches are just ignored. Any thoughts on Chrisitan Voice and its tactics against the trends in society at the moment?

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