Friday, November 02, 2007

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence meet the Congregation of Unending Tolerance

Because what happens in one part of the body effects the rest, I offer a link to some excellent commentary on the unfolding tragedy in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches. This has also been an issue I've discussed with other Candidates under care of the PCUSA. Unfortunately, it was largely an exercise in missing the point.

5 comments:

Doug Hagler said...

I agree - it looks like you entirely missed Heather's point, and she missed yours.

Or, perhaps more accurately, neither of you were willing to admit value in the other's point, which you may or may not have actually missed.

Not being a huge fan of resolving every discussion by an appeal to authority, I have to side with Heather on this one, but that isn't really surprising.

Its actually kind of surprising that this issue is getting so much traction among Protestants.

I have to wonder - you seem extraordinarily excited about vestments, and also at least conversant with (and apparently approving of) a few parts of CMT, so why not be Catholic? They seem to have the clothes and the rules that you like.

Chris said...

Doug,

I am already catholic...I'm just not a Romanist. I have no problem with looking back (a la the Canon of St Vincent of Lerins)to beliefs the church has held since its earliest post-apostolic days (such as vestments and canon law), so long as there is no contradiction or substitution to the Word of God as found in Holy Writ. I cross myself because it's a sign from my baptism, in documented use since as early as 180AD. I prefer the ancient vestments of the church because they emphasize that we serve from our commission to do so, rather than from our academic achievements.

As for CMT, it has much to commend. It's not as if the church started thinking about ethics with Rauschenbusch. And believe it or not, I read widely for a brainless fundy. Whenever I find a nugget of truth, I hold to it. I'm fortunate in that I've read widely in the Christian tradition, and thus am not lowered to the level of looking for skewed redundancies that crop up in pagan religions.

However, as to missing the point, I think that I saw Heather's point and she mine. Her point was that the church - the Body of Christ on earth - has no right to exercise discipline when it comes to the Sacraments. That's just balderdash - and it's certainly not Reformed. You know as well as I do that at least part of why communion dropped to quarterly celebration was so that there would be adequate time for discipline (both positive and negative).

As for the offensiveness of the situation, I tried to show that their flagrant, public, and unrepentant sexual sin barred them from the Supper as celebrated under the discipline of Canon Law. I would hope that you could see the beauty of this.

Imagine a Klansman coming to your church. He doesn't think his racism is wrong, he thinks that your anti-racism message is wrong, he plans on furthering the mission of the Klan as soon as he leaves the church, and he hopes to convince others of the righteousness of the Klan's cause just by being there. He makes it perfectly clear by wearing his robes. What do you do, Doug?

Do you say: "Come and feast! You are a celebrated part of this community!" If you do, then you have abandoned pastoral care for your flock and for that unrepentant sinner, as well as offending Christ whose blood has redeemed his elect from all of Adam's race. As Reformed Christians, we believe that Christ himself is officiating at the table. Do you see Christ extending his welcome to people who show absolutely no signs of repentance? Can you show me one place in Scripture where he found people in sin and left them there? (Look at the recorded conversations; don't argue from silence.) Should the church, acting under the authority of Christ, celebrate this sacred mystery with people who say: "I'm sticking with my program because I know what's better for my race/ emotions/ genitalia than You!" MH GENOITA!

Discipline is loving, Doug. Muddleheaded theology about the power of the sacraments is not.

regressivepresby said...

Amen.
dm

Doug Hagler said...

I maintain that your version of discipline is legalism more than loving. I think that the way you respond to issues which require "discipline" demonstrates a lot of self-righteousness, in general, and an inability to even attempt to see another point of view, much less deal with it at face-value. This is dressed up in scriptural quotes, of course, because a very selective argument from authority is all you've got going for you.

And I'm quite aware how well-read you are. In fact, you're far more well-read than I am. You've read all the right books and have all the right views. Your personal righteousness and orthodoxy are well shored-up, leaving you, I think, unable to understand any point of view that you don't personally hold, except at the level of caricature. This honestly makes your arguments even less credible, because its clear you're only debating with straw persons.

You and I disagree on what sin is. For me, a Klansman is necessarily sinful and a homosexual is not necessarily so, any more than a heterosexual is necessarily sinful. I've argued why I think that is the case at length in the past. So your claims about their 'unrepentant sinfulness', and your false comparison to the Klan, lack any meaning for me whatsoever, even if you were treating opposing views respectfully and actually dealing with them. But that is nothing new. And we've found each other mutually impervious to persuasion to date, so that's also nothing new.

However, I'll answer your question. I'm helping lead Communion tomorrow, so its even germane. When I give the invitation to communion and pray the great prayer of thanksgiving, I make it abundantly clear that this is the feast of the kingdom of god, to which the whole world is invited. I also make it clear that this is not a time to make a statement, or put on a show, but a time to receive God's grace. I talk a lot about reconciliation and the power of the holy spirit to break down barriers which divide us. I talk about how this is the meal that sustains us as we seek justice in the world, as we seek to live lives of radical sacrificial love. I also talk about how, at this table, you will find those you disagree with and don't particularly like, because it is Christ's table and not yours. And so on. All the liberal garbage you'd expect, I'm sure.

In that situation, if a Klansman in his robes comes forward to take Communion, I will tell him, looking straight into his eyes, "This is the bread of life. This is the cup of salvation." And I think that I will have made my point.

Chris said...

In an attempt to be less impervious, could you share with me your definition of sin? You show me yours, and I'll show you mine.

For your accusation of being too well read in only the "right" books, need I remind you that I went to LPTS? Believe me, I have read plenty of the "wrong" books, and will continue to do so.

As for the table invitation you're planning to give: it sounds like something I would give, but it lacks the element of warning that Paul attached in 1 Corinthians 11.