Sister Sue - February 2016

posted 26 Feb 2016, 09:58 by Richard Jones   [ updated 26 Feb 2016, 09:58 ]

Dear Friends,

What troubled times the Anglican Church seems to be going through. And what a poor witness to the Gospel we are making to the world. It is with real sadness that I view the intransigence that has characterised the discussions of the Anglican Church and the damage that this has coursed to individual Anglican brothers and sisters; indeed how this has then put their lives in danger.  Of course we could always say that that has been the way of the Church throughout our 2,000 year history as we can see so clearly from the writings of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, and in Paul’s letters to his early Christian communities.  And a close reading of the Gospels and the other New Testament writings shows us how deeply divided were the early Christian Churches; while the history of the Christian church evidences persecutions of Christians by other Christians.  Not to mention the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity, and the dividing of Christendom in the West during the Reformation.  However, this does not make our current situation any less painful, unedifying or less damaging to the work and mission of the Anglican Church, which is after God’s Church and God’s mission.

 Historically Anglicanism’s foundation lies in the three concepts of “Scripture, tradition and reason” which has provided us with the ability to find a middle way between extremes of theology and church tradition.  Sometimes this has led to a culture of “don’t ask, don’t tell” which can lead to a politeness bordering on negligence.  Nevertheless, “Scripture, tradition and reason” in the “broad church” that is Anglicanism has nourished many generations and nationalities of Christians and has provided the world with some of the most spiritual, holy and learned men and women from right across the Anglican spectrum from the highest of Anglo-Catholics to the most conservative of Evangelicals.  What has united us has been first and foremost the love of God, the respect for Scripture without resorting to literal or fundamentalist interpretation, and our belief that God’s will for the world and for individuals can be discerned through reasoned discussion and debate.  Sadly, there are those who would now seek to undermine this Anglican way with an insistence on fundamentalist and literalist interpretations of the Bible and the imposing of a dictatorial orthodoxy focused on a prurient and excessive interest into the relationships between two loving and consenting adults in the privacy of their relationship. This is a form of fundamentalism which is quite alien to the theology and historic nature of the Anglican Church and damages not only Anglicanism but more importantly the lives of individual women and men who become the focus of some less than Christian behaviour on the part of others.

 The Anglican Church is nevertheless God’s church and for all it’s faults and failings has been called into existence by God.  And that gives me great hope for it is through the Holy Spirit that the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified not merely through the actions of men and women.  So let us all refuse the temptation to bully and blackmail in order to get our own way and let us celebrate “Scripture, tradition and reason” not just in the institution of the Church but in our individual lives as well.  And as the bishops return from their meeting in Lambeth let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for them and for the furthering of God’s mission in the Anglican Church across the world.

 May God give you every blessing.

Sister Sue

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