Friday, October 19, 2007

A struggle

Underlying the last few posts here is a struggle, a fairly down to earth one as a pastor. Reconciler presents in our current landscape an unfortunately distinct view of Christianity. One at odds with the more vocal representatives of Christian faith to our culture. This is a struggle because I continually find myself in my ministry at Reconciler running up against beliefs, actions, theologies that are destructive of faith or at least endanger faith while claiming to be the paragons of Christian faith. Sometimes to my even greater frustration initially my own articulation of the Faith is understood in the terms of these other forms to which I do not adhere.

I want to say to those I minster to and with to simply let go of what these other Christians are saying and doing. Those who are so clearly stuck in a modernist/conservative dichotomy that is itself an external imposition on the Faith, and not a struggle internal to Christian faith. I of course am saying this as a Protestant Ecumenist, which is in some views supposed to be tolerant of all possible articulations of Christianity. But as I have said before on this blog I am not a "Doctrine divides service Unites" ecumenist, I am a Faith and Order Commission Ecumenist, That is I believe that at some point all or some of us are going to have to admit that we hold to things that are foreign to and incompatible with the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" and the "Faith once delivered to the Saints". As one who is still Protestant I think while we will have to give up most of the ground in the end, I still hold that RC and Orthodox need consider the possibility that while they have the strongest claims to continuity, somethings were overlooked that shouldn't have been. But I am not in a position to say.

All that to say, I find myself in a position of having a fairly "weak" position in comparison to other claims to Christian faith. In part because people come with the notion that if you have conviction about doctrine you are a fundamentalist and if you are concerned about social justice you are a liberal(I am, also, oversimplifying the case by saying this so succinctly). While I admittedly have more sympathy for liberal Christians than I do fundamentalist ones I find myself repulsed by both articulations of the faith, and what I find myself falling back upon are those theologians, saints, and rites that are not Protestant. Those things that in fact predate the Reformation.

I am also thinking about this because I next preach at Reconciler on Reformation Sunday. Does an ecumenical church like Reconciler even recognize such a day, mark it as a point of possible celebration or deep introspection, or acknowledge it at all? Do I who see so much of what people struggle with to be the result of the cacophony of claims to truth released and encouraged by the Reformation, want to emphasize such a day?

This isn't so much a complaint, nor an articulation of a longing for a time when everything was certain on the Christians landscape. I know there was no such Golden Age! There have always been disputes and multiple versions of Christian faith. Though it I do see a loss of interest, by many who to claim to be representatives of that Faith once delivered to the saints, in some historical continuous connection as an essential and central component to the claim of speaking for and articulating that faith. Instead it really seems that we(at least Christians in America) want to be creators of our own tradition, to view ourselves as authoritative as anyone who has gone before able to pronounce our answers as good if not better than those from whom we received the Faith. It's a slow process to get people to not listen to those who claim to be giants on the shoulders of midgets, and accept that we are perhaps not as farsighted and wise as all that. It is difficult to convince those trained by ideologues and idealist that perhaps there is this thing the Church that is full of sinners and thus failures, and at the same time Holy and that which holds for us the words of eternal life, that through which we know encounter and are Christ on earth.
Ed. note: Some changes were made on 10/20/2007, mainly in grammar, hopefully making things clearer to the reader. LEK