Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Church

Brooding is my mind on a pool of rippling questions in which the Church is subject or object. Recent stimuli include Doug's recent post on article XIX, Kevin's quotation of St Basil to note with care, and more particularly, Mike Sangrey on John 17, expanding on Suzanne's post about team teaching at Better Bibles Blog. Mike writes:

If you want to see accurate translation, look for the unity that it produces... the unity had to be there to begin with in order to produce the accurate translation.

The Church as object is the body of Christ. If we are indeed in this body, how then can we act as coordinated members? Is it sufficient for us to say ecclesiam semper reformandam, the Church is always in need of correction? What are we referring to with this statement except a human institution? The body of Christ is not in need of reformation, except to the extent that its members must be conformed to the resurrection of the dead - i.e. they must find the meaning of their baptism into his death, so that the life of his body may be seen in theirs.

To say that they are members of his body but have not yet found the meaning of being members of his body is to represent the contradiction that we are partners in. It is not the head that is lacking, but the members - yet we are all one in him, so what possibly could be lacking?

We are the they and we shall be deficient in nothing - so Psalm 23 and so Paul in 1 Corinthians - lacking in nothing, coming behind in no gift. (Clarify me as needed, I am writing without reference books for my office is destined to be painted this week and all has been packed away.)

So much of 1 Corinthians is about gifts - as is the passage in Acts which Doug cited: “If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” (Acts 11:17 NRSV)

I commend the whole comment to you - every line of Doug's short article seems to pull from me a response - especially the declarations of who is wrong - as if the Anglicans had a clear view of the right! (And I will attend an Anglican congregation this morning, prayer book service, bells and smells, and lots of psalms.) But Doug, in spite of how much I am indebted to him for his scholarship and clarity, concludes with what he deems a necessity that I deny: "the development of a theology of episcopacy as a guarantee of succession of teaching."

As I reread this, I don't know what he means - why would a theology of episcopacy help me resolve my questions? And would it be a theology of hierarchy or of a priestly tribe? Or of monarchy? None of this appeals to me. [Ed. so what! - who are you to hinder God!]

More importantly, does it include the assembly of the chosen? Is David, the King, the renegade Priest, and the Poet in this body, one with me? Is Abraham and his servant? And Rachel, Leah and Rebekkah? - Does God need 'development'?

As I said - brooding... maybe the wrong questions. Help me refine my questions. That is my prayer in the Church this morning. For I know whom I have believed, and there is no language barrier between us (Romans 8). I will die in the one I fear, whose merciful rebuke is my life (Psalm 23), whose presence my pleasure for ever (Psalm 16).

1 comment:

Beyond Words said...

Please keep brooding and urging the rest of us to partake of the mystery. I don't know the answers or the questions, but I long for that communion we have as members of Christ.