November 19, 2007

Host and Guests

Jonathan Petre of the Telegraph opines that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be targeting gay-friendly bishops for disinvitation to Lambeth.

This strikes me as spin on the ABC's bare words, as he reports them. He cites, for example, only the standing rejection of Gene Robinson, not of Martyn Minns, and ignores the distinction the Archbishop has made between the bishop who is the object of the controversy, and the one whose consecration was itself held to be "unhelpful." The ABC was, it seems, attempting to forestall controversy, it is true, but controversy from both ends of the spectrum. It takes two to tear the fabric. If what the Archbishop is interested in is upholstery or haberdashery. This solution would make for an interesting Vestry or session of Parliament -- just invite the people who have no opinions.

Of course, perhaps the Archbishop has remembered something many have forgotten. Lambeth isn't about solving problems or passing legislation. It isn't about establishing doctrine, but about sharing the fellowship of Christ, and finding ways to make God's presence in the world all the more visible. On these counts, Lambeth has been less than successful in recent years.

So, rather than trying to arrange the seating so that no-one who disagrees with anyone else need sit across from them, I would suggest the Archbishop should follow the laissez-faire approach: after the fashion of our Lord himself. Jesus had the wisdom to invite all, to allow those who are too occupied with their own matters to absent themselves, to allow those offended when they hear who the other guests are to withdraw, or to think inwardly, "He wouldn't have invited so-and-so if he knew who they were." Let Lambeth find its own level, naturally: those who wish to share in the fellowship will come; those who don't, won't.

And as in the gatherings over which Jesus was the pure and spotless host -- and still is -- the purpose is to celebrate -- not to legislate.

Tobias Haller BSG

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

John 2007 notes that this quote "It isn't about establishing doctrine, but about sharing the fellowship of Christ, and finding ways to make God's presence in the world all the more visible" is not in line with what Lambeth originally was which was primarily to gather the bishops as teachers of the faith. I also note the subtle or not so subtle diminishment of doctrine, which after all, is about understanding; and the virtual free fall that the teaching office as at the heart of ordained ministry, and esp the episcopalte, has taken in the lst couple of generations. Granted there is a way of doing doctrine or spelling out the faith that is wooden, unhelpful and divisive. But, for my money, we have gone far too far along the non-cognitivist route and have invoked the language of 'Christ's presence' for ourselves--as is done here, tho' not as baldly as in other places (KJS and FTG for instance--while neglecting his teaching and the teaching of the apostles. It's a funny thing that so many of our church leaders in humility foresear almost taking a stand for truth, doctrine, and dogma but, it seems to me, do thing more filleld with hubris in claiming to bear forth Christ's very presence. I'd rather let Christ himself remain free to bestow his on presence and self-presence . . .or to put it another way 'Yeah, Karl Barth!'

Tobias Haller said...

John 2007,

You could not be more mistaken as to the founding principles and purposes of the Lambeth Conference. Let the founder speak for himself:

"It should be a distinctly understood that at this meeting no declaration of faith shall be made, and no decision come to which shall affect generally the interests of the Church, but that we shall meet together for brotherly counsel and encouragement... I should refuse to convene any assembly which pretended to enact any canons or affected to make any decisions binding on the Church." (Archbishop Longley, speaking at the convocation of Canterbury, May 1866)

In the letter of invitation the Archbishop sent to Anglican bishops around the world, he said:

"I propose that, at our assembling, we should first solemnly seek the blessing of Almighty GOD on our gathering, by uniting together in the highest act of the Church's worship. After this, brotherly consultations will follow. In these we may consider together many practical questions, the settlement of which would tend to the advancement of the Kingdom of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, and to the maintenance of greater union in our missionary work, and to increased intercommunion among ourselves. Such a meeting would not be competent to make declarations or lay down definitions on points of doctrine. But united worship and common counsels would greatly tend to maintain practically the unity of the faith: whilst they would bind us in straiter bonds of peace and brotherly charity."

It need hardly be stated that the Lambeth Conferences of recent years have fallen far and away from this original intention. It is to that intention I am attempting to recall the present convenor.

I fear you are tending in a dangerous direction with your willingness to deny the presence of Christ among those with whom you disagree. I claim Christ's presence because he has promised it, not because I deserve it. If there is hubris here, you might want to consider whether it lies on your side?

PseudoPiskie said...

This is all a bunch of hooey. People stirring up others to serve their own perceived needs. Some want to use Lambeth to bully people with whom they disagree, to set policy when the purpose is to discuss not dictate. ABC Williams stated as such in his invitation. Why listen when "we" are "right" and "you" are "wrong"? There is a simple solution to all this bickering.

Invite all. Prepare the table. Those who show up and share the eucharist are the Anglican Communion. Then all can sit down and share the conversation.

The folks who can't share the table have no intention of listening so why should they bother? They will have walked away and can form their own association with their own pope which is what they seem to want.

Once they have vacated their titles and properties, we can get back to the business of sharing the good news of God's love for all God's creation and trying to do what Jesus taught such as taking care of the poor, the sick, etc.

I'm as tired of all this as I am of the US administration. Same source for all the chaos. May God bless them with the knowledge of what Jesus was trying to tell us. 8>)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, Piskie, I agree. Invite all the bishops. Let those who will, take part in the fellowship and celebrate the presence of the One who promised, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them".