Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Am I open?

As I listen to this inspiring episode by the Liturgists on Safe Church, I feel a new sense of challenge, as "Science Mike" and his pastor, Betsy Ouellette, gently and openly challenge me.

What connected with me especially? The encouragement to first try out your questions with folk you know, that I know I am safe with. My close friends and my wife know that I am uncomfortable with thoughtlessly applying 4th-8th century doctrines as biblical truth. I find them unsatisfying, an extra, often unidentified but supremely authoritative filter to the texts, and interpretative. However, this podcast prods me to ask a different kind of question, what-if questions.

What if: the mainstream (catholic) Christian view in the world today was more closely clustered around a combination of
- the Apostolic creed, and
- various expressions of biblical unitarian churches throughout the world celebrating the all powerful creator God and the coming of and salvation through his anticipated, glorified and empowered human son Jesus.

What if: I were pastor of such a church and a regular member of many years, a close and faithful follower who always adhered to the mainstream confession began asking questions as he read more into the patristic era and church history, in which homoians had won the key doctrinal battles. He asks: "What if our global regular view of God is not enough? Why am I not satisfied with this homoian interpretation of Scripture? The depth and community of the Godhead, the triune oneness, Father Son and Holy Spirit, three persons, one essence, the clear two natures and wills of Christ, the veneration of icons, the motherhood of God of Mary, etc, throughout the world only a tiny minority believe this, but it seems so true! Or at least truer to scripture!"

What if I heard all this from this guy, and it appears radically different from what I believe - even declared historically as heretical or worthy of condemnation! How do I respond to him. Am I open and willing to accompany him on his journey?
How do I balance that with keeping the rest of the flock "safe"? What is safe?

Am I open? I strongly suspect that the answer to the question of this blog post is: no, not yet. I still fear rather than embrace disagreement. My relationships are weaker than my confessions. And that needs addressing...

I also want to address something else I have done which stinks of control. "I would really encourage you to..." " I would challenge you to", "please pray about you doing X". These sentences seem positive and strong. But do they embrace openness? What extra messages could be packed into those exhortations? If we see the challenge laid down in this podcast we can see that it has truly challenged me, in a simultaneously light and deep way.

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