Sunday, March 26, 2006

Verbum Dei manet in aeternum.

I. The Nauseating Predicament
While Bp. Duncan and Abp. Williams run to defend the judiciousness of their brother Abp. Akinola-- apologizing for his words and calling attention to his sensitive position ('scuse me while I reach for my hanky), while Abp. Williams openly explores abdicating Christian moral leadership, while the Bp. of Exeter threatens ECUSA with excommunication from Communion should it--the horror! The horror!--ordain another active gay bishop, sixteen human rights agencies provide effective, clear moral witness against Nigeria's anti-homosexual laws:

As human rights organizations based in Nigeria, on the African continent, and internationally, we write with deep concern over a proposed bill that would introduce criminal penalties for relationships and marriage ceremonies between persons of the same sex as well as for public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people. The legislation proposed by Minister of Justice Bayo Ojo not only contravenes internationally recognized protections against discrimination, as well as the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly, but also undermines Nigeria’s struggle to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

O thank God's merciful heavens the Anglican Communion ain't among them--shh, child! Could you imagine the scandal??

In case you missed it, you can catch up with the latest from Duncan on Akinola here.

What we are seeing in the Anglican Communion is a twofold accomodation: (1) An accomodation to the value hierarchy of secular modernity, which--in a fit if consumerist and materialist ecstasy--elevates things sexual to a place of first importance; (2) a willingness to tolerate violence--including political tyranny and homicide--for the preservation of hierarchical instiutional power. No--let me go further with (2), given the widely publicized proposals in Windsor Report calling for more structural unity: Archbishop Williams and these others are willing to excuse the violence of tyranny and murder so that power may be centralized within the Anglican Communion under some particularization of the broad scheme offered in the Windsor Report. The accomodation referred to in (2) is typical of a wide variety of odious secular political arrangements (fascists, stalinists, the Khmer, among many others); however I had not recognized the same spirit in the Anglican Communion until very recently. You would not be the first to discern the Spirit of the Age, the Spirit of Antichrist, in (1) and (2).

The accomodation in (1) is more subtle--some of the same righties who are now doing gymnastics to justify Akinola have argued more convincingly for the centrality of the homosexuality issue against those who would relegate it to secondary, non-"church-breaking" status. But in discerning the moral nature of (1), you should be aided by the clarity of right and wrong around (2). We are dealing with fruit of the same tree--the Anglican right--here.

There is an exquisite perversity in the right's turning the finite energies of ECUSA and the Communion to this issue when there are so many others in the past 3 yrs that have been immediate questions of life and death for thousands upon thousands. Sexuality is the only viscerally intelligible mysticism of materialists and epicures--intellectual debates on biblical authority aside, the epicureanism of the affluent West is the real issue which the churches will not address. The right's obsession with sex indulges corrupt Western personae, and amidst scarcity is a luxury coming at the expense of human life. It is a refusal to live under God's reign, an exiting from his Kingdom.

II. God's "No!"
God could well leave us to the consequences of this fornication--how far would the AC degrade its Christianity? How far would leaders in England and America go in cozying up and scratching backs? We have come to treat our religion as a thing we can manipulate at will, for our finite puposes, thinking we--of course!-- are the church God means when he says he will not let hell prevail. We forget the fate of Judah; we forget our contingency: if God wishes, he could make a church de novo from stones and dust. The institution cannot exist for its own sake: it is an abomination.

But we are not bereft of the truth and of models for how to proceed. We can answer the call to speak God's "No!" to this accomodation to secular modernity. I recall Barth's brave words in much darker times ringing against accomodation. With a minimum of imagination, you can see how they apply to the situation of ECUSA with respect to the wider Anglican Communion:

We reject the false doctrine that the Church could have permission to hand over the form of its message and of its order [think of the changes in order called for by the Windsor Report] to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day.

And this:
The various offices in the Church do not provide a basis for some to exercise authority over others but for the ministry [lit., "service"] with which the whole community has been entrusted and charged to be carried out.
We reject the false doctrine that, apart from this ministry, the Church could, and could have permission to, give itself or allow itself to be given special leaders vested with ruling authority.


And this:
The Church's commission, which is the foundation of its freedom, consists in this: in Christ's stead, and so in the service of his own Word and work, to deliver all people, through preaching and sacrament, the message of the free grace of God.
We reject the false doctrine that with human vainglory the Church could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of self-chosen desires, purposes and plans.


Many on the right are employed to make it plausible that red is green and squares are circles: you will hear that the right is not holding the Word hostage to its message of hate (yes, hate--what else can you call e.g. Turner's rejection of the Gospel of love?); you will hear that the only way forward for the church is to move toward the romish model of universal primacy--that a special leader must be vested with ruling authority; you will hear that the order of the church must be centralized to preseve sex traditions that are truly of overriding import, regardless of what violence must be excused in the meantime.

This is the kind of backwash of detritus we are warned of in the NT that comes up to oppose the Gospel--let it come, it cannot be victorious: the Word of God remains forever.

1 Comments:

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous J.C. Fisher said...

Aaaaaargh, Blogger just ate my comment! >:-0

To summarize it as briefly as my frustration-level will let me, I just said that "Human Right Watch", and other secular justice organizations, are doing a far better job of embodying Gospel morality, than is the AC.

[Understand now, why Our Lord was wont to say "Not even in Israel have I found such faith!"]

 

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