Author Topic: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC  (Read 17914 times)

John Dornheim

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #90 on: November 08, 2007, 01:13:31 PM »
It seems the realignment of the Anglican communion is proceeding apace.  According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the Anglilcan province of the Southern Cone - which includes most of South America excluding Brazil - has voted to allow dioceses which dissaffiliate from TEC to join their province:

Archbishop Venables unveiled the decision of his bishops and other leaders after the plans were overwhelmingly approved by his provincial synod during a meeting in Chile last night.

A handful of conservative American dioceses are already in the process of opting out of the Episcopal Church by voting in their diocesan synods to alter their constitutions.

Up to five are expected to become part of the Southern Cone, which covers most of South America except Brazil, over the next six months or so.

The diocese of San Joaquin in California, which is due to take its final vote in December, is poised to leap first, while Pittsburgh, headed by Bishop Bob Duncan, will have to wait until the middle of next year...

In a letter sent last night, 46 conservative members of the Church of England's General Synod pledged their support. A number of traditionalist parishes in Canada are also likely to affiliate with the Southern Cone province in protest at plans by liberal dioceses to introduce same-sex blessings.


The full report is here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/08/nsplit108.xml

There have been individual parishes making such a jump, but this would be the first time whole dioceses would be affiliatiing with a foreign province.  While it is just a preliminary action of "invitation", this is sure to ratchet up the conflict in the Anglican communion to a whole new level - as if it is not already at a breaking point.

And what should we say of the priests and parishes who are opposed to these moves?

I suppose the same thing we say about the Priests and parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark who opposed the leadership and direction of their former Bishop, J.S. Spong...  Only hopefully, I might add, with a bit more charity than those who dissented from Spong were shown.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
   

Did Bishop Spong try to lead his diocese out of TEC?
John Dornheim

peter_speckhard

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #91 on: November 08, 2007, 01:20:16 PM »

Did Bishop Spong try to lead his diocese out of TEC?
John Dornheim
No, but he tried to lead TEC out of the confines of the faith once handed down. His public repudiations of central doctrines of the faith are well-documented.

John Dornheim

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #92 on: November 08, 2007, 01:31:51 PM »

Did Bishop Spong try to lead his diocese out of TEC?
John Dornheim
No, but he tried to lead TEC out of the confines of the faith once handed down. His public repudiations of central doctrines of the faith are well-documented.

I think that is something of a distortion.

John Dornheim

peter_speckhard

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #93 on: November 08, 2007, 01:43:57 PM »

Did Bishop Spong try to lead his diocese out of TEC?
John Dornheim
No, but he tried to lead TEC out of the confines of the faith once handed down. His public repudiations of central doctrines of the faith are well-documented.

I think that is something of a distortion.

John Dornheim
No it isn't. He flat out rejects parts of the creed. I don't think it is at all a distortion to consider the ecumenical creeds, at the very minimum, as a definition of the faith handed down. If he trangresses those bounds (which is an objective fact, assuming his own testimony concerning his beliefs is reliable), and he is a leader in any sense of the term (and bishop certainly qualifies), then what I have said is the plain truth and not at all distorted. How would you correct the alleged distortion?

MMH

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #94 on: November 08, 2007, 01:56:57 PM »

Did Bishop Spong try to lead his diocese out of TEC?
John Dornheim
No, but he tried to lead TEC out of the confines of the faith once handed down. His public repudiations of central doctrines of the faith are well-documented.

I think that is something of a distortion.

Well, here is what he says-

 1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.


[From http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/reform.html]

So how is this in keeping with the Faith once received?

John Dornheim

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #95 on: November 08, 2007, 02:36:25 PM »
Just a small part of Spong's writings are offered as though one must conclude that everything he has written is pointless. That is far from the case. I have read him and found him to be helpful in refining my own thinking. That which I found unhelpful I reject. As a  bishop, he is also a teacher of the church. TEC has not adopted many of his ideas so there is no reason to conclude that his work has had the negative impact which is suggested.

John Dornheim

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #96 on: November 08, 2007, 02:55:51 PM »
Just a small part of Spong's writings are offered as though one must conclude that everything he has written is pointless. That is far from the case. I have read him and found him to be helpful in refining my own thinking. That which I found unhelpful I reject. As a  bishop, he is also a teacher of the church. TEC has not adopted many of his ideas so there is no reason to conclude that his work has had the negative impact which is suggested.

John Dornheim

"All atonement theories root in a sense of human alienation and with it a sense of human powerlessness. 'Without Thee we can do nothing good!' So we develop legends about the God who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. . . . As we Christians tell the story of Jesus' dying for our sins in doctrine, hymns and liturgy, we quite unknowingly turn God into an ogre, a deity who practices child sacrifice and a guilt-producing figure, who tells us that our sinfulness is the cause of the death of Jesus. God did it to him instead of to us who deserved it. Somehow that is supposed to make it both antiseptic and worthwhile. It doesn't. I think we can and must break the power of these images."  - Rt. Rev John Shelby Spong

When Spong denies substitutional atonement, he denies Christianity at the core, and renders anything else he has to say on the faith superfluous.  If one is unable to say that such blatant heresy is outside the Christian faith, you have to wonder what it would take to qualify as heresy.

(Of course, this isn't the only objectionable thing Spong has said.  One need only look at his comments saying the reason why African Anglicans have been slow to embrace the new sexual morality pioneered by the Western churches is because they are only "one generation removed from tribalism" and all the supserstitions that come with it.  Had a theological conservative said such a thing, he or she would have been (rightly) labeled a raving racist.  How Spong manages to say such things without punishment is beyond me.)

janielou13

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #97 on: November 08, 2007, 03:03:43 PM »
To avoid the obvious distortion to which John Dornheim refers, below is the take by ++ Rowan Cantur, before he was Cantur:

(Editors note:  +Spong is incomprehensible unless one realizes that he is tweeking the Church to think outside the box of Hellenism, as continued dependency on same will lead to either fundamentalist absolutism on the one hand, or dumping the baby of faith/belief/reflection out with the bathwater of Hellenism, if and when it indeed passes.)

October 2003
Bishop Spong's argument  (Cantur's response follows the twelve points.)

Martin Luther ignited the Reformation of the 16th century by nailing to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517 the 95 Theses that he wished to debate. I will publish this challenge to Christianity in The Voice. I will post my theses on the Internet and send copies with invitations to debate them to the recognised Christian leaders of the world.

My theses are far smaller in number than were those of Martin Luther, but they are far more threatening theologically. The Issues to which I now call the Christians of the world to debate are these:


1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.


2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.


3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.


4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.


5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.


6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.


7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.


8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.


9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.


10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.


11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.


12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.


So I set these theses today before the Christian world and I stand ready to debate each of them as we prepare to enter the third millennium.

Rowan Williams replies...

Is it time for a new Reformation? The call has gone out quite a few times in the past three or four decades, and the imminence of the Millennium adds a certain piquancy to it.

The Right Reverend John Spong, Bishop of Newark in the US, is right to say - as he has done in his diocesan journal - that his own version of this demand is of a rather different order from the earlier Reformation; and this surely makes it imperative that his bold and gracious invitation to debate these theses should be taken up with some urgency and seriousness, not least on the eve of a Lambeth Conference that will undoubtedly be looking hard at issues of Christian identity and the limits of diversity.

So I had better say at once that, while I believe Bishop Spong has, in these and other matters, done an indispensable task in focusing our attention on questions under-examined and poorly thought through, I believe that these theses represent a level of confusion and misinterpretation that I find astonishing.

He has rightly urged the Church to think more clearly in many respects about issues of sex and gender; but I am bothered by the assumption here that the Church has failed to think through a number of central matters on which quantities of fairly sophisticated literature have been written over the entire history of Christian theology.

The implication of the theses is that the sort of questions that might be asked by a bright 20th century sixth-former would have been unintelligible or devastating for Augustine, Rahner or Teresa of Avila. The fact is that significant numbers of those who turn to Christian faith as educated adults find the doctrinal and spiritual tradition which Bishop Spong treats so dismissively a remarkably large room to live in.

Doctrinal statements may stretch and puzzle, and even repel, and yet they still go on claiming attention and suggesting a strange, radically different and imaginatively demanding world that might be inhabited. I'm thinking of a good number of Eastern Europeans I know who have found their way to (at least) a fascinated absorption in classical Christianity through involvement in dissident politics and underground literature. Or of some American writers who will, I'm sure, be known to Bishop Spong, from Denise Levertov to Kathleen Norris, who have produced reflective and imaginative work out of the same adult recovery of the tradition. Is this tradition as barren as Spong seems to think?

To answer that requires us to look a bit harder at the theses themselves. In a way, the first of them indicates where the trouble is going to come: for there are at least three quite distinct senses of theism current in theology and religious studies, and it is none too clear which is at issue here.

At the simplest level, theism is, presumably, what atheists deny. Spong doesn't appear to think of himself as an atheist, so this can't be it.

In a more specialist context, scholars of the phenomenology of mysticism have sometimes distinguished 'theistic' from 'monistic' experience - theistic experience being defined as focused upon a reality ultimately distinct from the self (and the universe), as opposed to a mysticism of final unification. I'm not convinced that this distinction is actually a very helpful strategy, but that is another matter; it may be that something more like this is what Spong has in mind.

But there is also the sense, recently discussed by writers like Nicholas Lash, of theism as the designation of that abstract belief in God independent of the specific claims of revelation that flourished in the age after Descartes - a sense quite close to but not identical with that of 'deism'. It is in this sense that large numbers of theologians would say that classical Trinitarian orthodoxy is not a form of theism.

I suspect that Spong is feeling his way between the second and the third senses. His objections seem to be to God as a being independent of the universe who acts within the universe in a way closely analogous to the way in which ordinary agents act. The trouble is that, while this might describe the belief of some rationalist divines in the modern period, and while it might sound very like the language of a good many ordinary religious practitioners, it bears no relation at all to what any serious theologian, from Origen to Barth and beyond, actually says about God - or, arguably, to what the practice of believers actually implies, whatever the pictorial idioms employed.

Classical theology maintains that God is indeed different from the universe. To say this is to suggest a radical difference between one agent and another in the world. God is not an object or agent over against the world; God is the eternal activity of unconstrained love, an activity that activates all that is around God is more intimate to the world than we can imagine, as the source of activity or energy itself; and God is more different than we can imagine, beyond category and kind and definition.

Thus God is never competing for space with agencies in the universe. When God acts, this does not mean that a hole is torn in the universe by an intervention from outside, but more that the immeasurably diverse relations between God's act and created acts and processes may be more or less transparent to the presence of the unconstrained love that sustains them all.

The doctrine of the incarnation does not claim that the 'theistic' God (i.e. a divine individual living outside the universe) turns himself into a member of the human race, but that this human identity, Jesus of Nazareth, is at every moment, from conception onwards, related in such a way to God the Word (God's eternal self-bestowing and self-reflecting) that his life is unreservedly and uniquely a medium for the unconstrained love that made all things to be at work in the world to remake all things. Jesus embodies God the Word or God the Son as totally as (more totally than) the musician in performance embodies the work performed.

I don't find this bankrupt; I don't find that it fails to make sense to those trying to learn the language of faith.

And the same point about God not competing for space is pertinent to several of the other theses. Exactly how the presence of God's action interweaves with various sets of created and contingent causes is not available for inspection. We have no breakdown of the relations between God and this or that situation in the world.

Theologians have argued that the holiness of a human individual or the prayer of a believer may be factors in a situation that tilt the outcome in a particular way. This is an intellectually frustrating conclusion in all sorts of ways, but seems to be the only one that really manages to do justice to the somewhat chaotic Christian experience of intercession and unexpected outcomes (miracles, if you must). If the world really does rest upon divine act, then whatever you say about the regularities of casual chains is relativised a bit by not quite knowing what counts as a 'cause' from God's point of view, so to speak.

Bishop Spong describes the resurrection as an act of God. I am not clear how an immanent deity such as I think he believes in is supposed to act; but if such a God does act, I don't see why it should be easier for God to act in people's mind than their bodies. 'Jesus was raised into the meaning of God'; yes, but meanings are constructed by material, historical beings, with cerebral cortices and larynxes. How does God (or 'God') make a difference to what people mean?

Spong clearly has no time for the empty-tomb tradition; so it is no surprise that he also dismisses the virginal conception (though why on earth this makes Jesus's divinity 'impossible' I fail to understand). I am aware that there are critical historical grounds for questioning both narrative clusters and I don't want to dismiss them. But I am very wary of setting aside the stories on the ground of a broad-brush denial of the miraculous.

For the record: I have never quite managed to see how we can make sense of the sacramental life of the Church without a theology of the risen body; and I have never managed to see how to put together such a theology without belief in the empty tomb. If a corpse clearly marked 'Jesus of Nazareth' turned up, I should save myself a lot of trouble and become a Quaker.

The virginal conception looks less straightforward, if you are neither a fundamentalist nor someone committed to the principled denial of miracles. Is it possible to believe in the incarnation without this? Yes, I think so (I did for a few years). But I also have an uncomfortable feeling that the more you reflect on the incarnation, the less of a problem you may have. There is a rather haunting passage in John Neville Figgis about - as it were - waking up one day and finding you believe it after all. My sentiments exactly.

Perhaps the underlying theme in all this is that if you don't believe in a God totally involved in and totally different from the universe, it's harder to see the universe as gift; harder to be open to whatever sense of utter unexpectedness about the life and death of Jesus made stories of pregnant virgins and empty tombs perfectly intelligible; harder to grasp why people thank God in respect of prayers answered and unanswered.

Perhaps, too, it has a bit to do with the sense of utterly unexpected absolution or release, the freeing of the heart.

The cross as sacrifice? God knows, there are barbaric ways of putting this; but as a complex and apparently inescapable metaphor (which, in the Bible, is about far more than propitiation) it has always said something sobering about the fact that human liberation doesn't come cheap, that the degree of human self-delusion is so colossal as to involve 'some total gain or loss' (in the words of Auden's poem about Bonhoeffer) in the task of overcoming it. And that human beings compulsively deceive themselves about who and what they are is a belief to which Darwinism is completely immaterial.

Of course, if you want to misunderstand Darwin as establishing a narrative of steady spiritual or intellectual evolution, you will indeed want to say that all existing ethical standards are relative. How, then, are you going to deal with claims by this or that group that they are moving on to the next evolutionary stage? In what sense can ethics fail to be about the contests of power, if there is nothing to which we are all answerable at all times?

Of course the parameters of ethical understanding shift: but the shifts in Christian ethics on, for example, slavery, usury and contraception, have had to argue long and hard to establish that they are in some way drawing out an entailment of what is there, or honouring some fundamental principle in what is there. In other words, these changes in convention have had to show a responsibility to certain principles that continue to identify this kind of talk as still recognisably Christian talk.

It makes for hard work - as is obvious with current debates about homosexuality or nuclear war; but it is hard work because of the need to continue listening to what is said and written.

But then we discover in Spong's theses that there is, after all, a non-negotiable principle, based upon the image of God in human beings. Admirable; but what does it mean in Spong's theological world? What is the image of a 'non-theistic' God? And where, for goodness' sake, does he derive this belief about humans? It is neither scientific nor obvious.

It is, in fact, what we used to call a dogma of revealed religion. It is a painful example of the sheerly sentimental use of phraseology whose rationale depends upon a theology that is being overtly rejected. What can it be more than a rather unfairly freighted and emotive substitute for some kind of bland egalitarianism - bland because ungrounded and therefore desperately vulnerable to corruption, or defeat at the hands of a more robust ideology? It is impossible to think too often of the collapse of liberalism in 1930s Germany.

It is no great pleasure to write so negatively about a colleague from whom I, like many others, have learned. But I cannot in any way see Bishop Spong's theses as representing a defensible or even an interesting Christian future. And I want to know whether the Christian past scripture and tradition, really appears to him as empty and sterile as this text suggests.

It seems he has not found life here, and that is painful to acknowledge and to hear. Yet I see no life in what the theses suggest; nothing to educate us into talking about the Christian God in a way I can recognise: no incarnation; no adoption into intimate relation with the Source of all; no Holy Spirit. No terror. No tears.

Does he know that generations of believers have argued the need to separate hope for life after death from earthly rewards and punishments? They believe that the present and future delight of enjoying God's intimacy made all such talk irrelevant.

Does he see at all that the recognition of God's image in everyone, in such a way as to drive people to risk everything for it (Wilberforce? Dorothy Day? Desmond Tutu? Bonhoeffer? Romero?), seems persistently to come from an immersion in the dark reality of God's difference and in the uncompromising paradoxes of incarnation of the Almighty?

Culturally speaking, the Christian religion is one of those subjects about which it is cool to be ignorant. Spong's account of classical Christian faith simply colludes with such ignorance in a way that cannot surely reflect his own knowledge of it. I think I understand the passion behind all this, the passion to make sense to those for whom the faith is at best quaint and at worst oppressive, nonsense.

But the sense is made (in so far as it is made at all) by a denial of the resources already there - to the extent that Spong's own continuing commitment to the tradition becomes incomprehensible.

Living in the Christian institution isn't particularly easy. It is, generally, today, an anxious inefficient, pompous, evasive body. If you hold office on it, you become more and more conscious of what it's doing to your soul. Think of what Coca-Cola does to your teeth. Why bother?

Well, because of the unwelcome conviction that it somehow tells the welcome truth about God, above all in its worship and sacraments. I don't think I could put up with it for five minutes if I didn't believe this; and - if I can't try to say this in a pastoral, not an inquisitorial, spirit - I don't know quite why Bishop Spong puts up with it.

At the time of writing Rowan Williams was Bishop of Monmouth. Rowan Williams is now Archbishop of Canterbury.
Transcribed and reproduced with permission from the 17 July 1998 edition of Church Times









peter_speckhard

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #98 on: November 08, 2007, 03:34:16 PM »
Certainly anyone in this forum is free to take Bp. Spong seriously. But nothing I said upstream was a distortion.

Team Hesse

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #99 on: November 08, 2007, 03:36:48 PM »
but I am at odds with the idea of anyone getting pulled into heaven against their will.

Ahhhhh, free will rears its ugly head.
I think we all get dragged into heaven against our will (we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves).  How else can we explain what happened to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road?  or the words to Luther's explanation to the Third Article of the Creed?  " I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit ..."

Lou

Please do not bear false witness - but post the quote in its entirety.  As noted above, the passage distinctly describes the work of the Holy Spirit.  It seems you are saying everyone has that work done, but the evidence of the world indicates that this is not so. 

The problem with "all" dragged into heaven, kicking and screaming is that it denies the eschatological passages, from Matthew 13 and 25, to this week's epistle, to the entire Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.

My apologies, where I wrote "I think we all get dragged..." above, I should have written "I think we all (those of who do go to heaven) get dragged ..."
I am no universalist, and do not deny the eschatological passages mentioned above. 

Quote
Evil people exist, who refuse the grace offered in Christ.  Some by overt decision (Ted Turner and the deceased Ms. O'Hare come to mine), some by being simply to laze to understand the natural law as point to something larger than themselves.  Either way, Romans 2 is clear, they will be judged by their own consceince, against the law of God.

I do have problems with this paragraph.  I do not believe salvation hinges on our decision (refusing the grace, as mentioned above).  Salvation depends on hearing -- those who don't hear, don't believe. 
The sole difference between the evil of Ted Turner or Ms. O'Hare or Lou Hesse or St. Paul is in the hearing, which is how the Holy Spirit does his work of calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying.  If salvation depends on our own decision, we shouldn't be baptizing babies.

Quote
And without a relationship Christ gives us, with the Father, that judgment is hopeless.  Having been gathered into that relationship, given faith, granted repentance, we have the assurance of that relationship.  Those that reject it, have rejected it.  This isn't about a pass into a spiritual disneyland.  It is about eternity, as the family of God, the bride of Christ.

Those that reject are simply not hearing.  And we all reject unless we hear.  And it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to hear. 
Thanks be to God that we have heard, for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." (Rom.10:17)

Lou


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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #100 on: November 08, 2007, 03:42:42 PM »
And what should we say of the priests and parishes who are opposed to these moves?
John Dornheim

While the discussion concerning Bishop Spong's views and treatment of those in his diocese who disagreed with him is interesting and, to a certain degree, informative, I believe a more relevant comparison would be to the treatment of parishes who are currently attempting to leave their TEC parishes.  For example, the several in Bishop Lee's Diocese of Virginia, who are currently facing legal action over their claims upon their property.  While it remains to be seen what the Diocese of Pittsburgh will do in similar cases, Bishop Duncan's statements thus far indicate a commitment to avoid any kind of legal wrangling, and to seek a mediated, mutually agreed upon resolution to such conflicts, should they arise.  And, no doubt, they will arise.  Granted, I am an outsider, with no history within the Anglican communion, and do not fully understand their policies and traditions in such matters.  However, I believe this to be the better approach, by far, whether it is a "traditional" parish leaving a "revisionist" diocese, or a "revisionist" parish leaving a "traditional" diocese that is aligned with a "traditional" province.  

Marshall Hahn

Sublime_Harbinger

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #101 on: November 08, 2007, 03:44:14 PM »
For me, the discussion about universalism only really gets interesting when the question of whether or not the grace of god is irresistable is taken up.  People can dream wonderful dreams to keep them happy at night all they want to (and I personally do hope and pray that God will have more mercy than I think he will) but I am at odds with the idea of anyone getting pulled into heaven against their will.
Well, the word used about about the Father drawing all people to Jesus (John 6:44) and Jesus drawing all people to himself (John 12:32) is exactly the same word as hauling in a net of fish (John 21:6, 11). It is also used of dragging people against their will (Acts 18:19; 21:30; James 2:6). At least in these verses the Bible does present a picture of getting pulled into heaven (or into the boat or into court) against one's will. Do you think that's a bad thing?

I thought justified and sinner responded to most of the points in the manner in which I would have, but I did want to respond here.  (I think you were referring to Acts 16:19 btw)  To answer the question directly, no, I do not think it is a bad thing to be drawn/hauled/dragged to Jesus feet.  To ask a question of my own:  How is being dragged to the feet of Jesus the equivalent of eternal salvation?

On a side note, I do not think drag (or its Greek equivalent e[lkw) automatically indicates an *irresistable* pull, and John 21:6 seems to bear that out.

Team Hesse

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Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #102 on: November 08, 2007, 09:52:04 PM »
but I am at odds with the idea of anyone getting pulled into heaven against their will.

Ahhhhh, free will rears its ugly head.
I think we all get dragged into heaven against our will (we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves).  How else can we explain what happened to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road?  or the words to Luther's explanation to the Third Article of the Creed?  " I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit ..."
Lou
Lou, I think your post leaves conversion out of the equation, as the three dots end the quote mid-sentence. Had St. Paul never been pulled over, so to speak, on the road to Damascus, he would have remained an enemy of God. As it was, he reports having received a new nature, such that while he remained according to the flesh, an enemy of God, the "according to the flesh"  no longer represented who he really was. As a converted believer, he now wills what is right even when he can't do it. Same with the third article. Yes, I cannot convert myself. But that doesn't mean I can't be converted. I can't believe in Jesus by my own reason or strength; but that doesn't mean I can't believe in Him. The Holy Spirit does it; he calls, enlightens and sanctifies you in this life by giving you faith, thus converting your will. The will is the main thing converted, going from having one master to another. There is a difference not only of eternal destination between believers and unbelievers, but also of will, even when we lack the power to carry out our converted will. I will not be in heaven against my will; I will be there despite my sin and weakness. There is a huge difference. Sure, my will is not free-- it is a slave to sin according to the flesh and the law and a slave to Christ according to the spirit and the Gospel, but it is still my will. A bound will is not no will.

Once again, Peter, thanks for the thoughtful response.  Everything you say above is consistent with what I learned in confirmation and have lived by, as far as I know, all my life.  But there is one piece missing, which I heard (faith comes by hearing, you know) for the first time in Audubon, IA, in July 2003.  It had probably been preached to me many times, but that's the day I heard it.

I deliberately stopped my quote from the Explanation of the Third Article at "but the Holy Spirit ..." because of how I understand conversion differently today than before.  A free will/my will understanding of conversion leaves sinners wondering "do I believe enough? do I have enough faith? why, if I have faith, am I still sinning?  why can't I stop sinning?"  In short, there is no comfort in a free will conversion. 

What was missing from my life and, I believe, from your explanation above, is the nature of the conversion. 
"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."  Galatians 2:20 
And
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory."  Col. 3:3
The old Adam dies -- he is DEAD in trespass and sin; the new Adam is none other than the real presence of Jesus Christ himself in you as a redeeming reality.  That is more or less a direct quote from Regin Prenter, approx. page 50 in his book Spiritus Creator
This is how I understand simul justus et peccator.  It has nothing to do with my will, it has everything to do with the promises of Jesus, the love of the Father, and the action of the Holy Spirit (calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying).
  Thanks be to God!

As to your final question --
Quote
If as a converted believer you are still going to heaven against your will, would you be relieved to discover you weren't going there after all?   
To a converted believer, (a person dead to trespass and sin and alive in Christ) the question is meaningless.  A person alive in Christ would want to be nowhere else but in the presence of the Father forever.

Lou


ptmccain

  • Guest
Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #103 on: November 08, 2007, 10:05:29 PM »
Certainly anyone in this forum is free to take Bp. Spong seriously. But nothing I said upstream was a distortion.

I take Spong seriously, very seriously. He is nothing more, nor less, than an apostate.

grabau14

  • Guest
Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« Reply #104 on: November 08, 2007, 10:20:50 PM »
Now Paul, that's the type of language that insults and doesn't further a dialogue  ;).  But on the other hand, when a Bishop denies the incarnation it's hard not to use that nasty a word. 

Rev'd. Matthew J. Uttenreither  SSP