Thursday, April 27, 2023

Should Jesus have come at all?

In the sad debate within the Church of England over the blessing of same sex couples, one reads this comment by Archbishop Welby:  “So, when we vote, we need to think of that. It’s not just about what people will say — it is about what they will suffer.”  (emphasis added)   Needless to report, they voted not for what God said or even what should be said but as Archbishop Welby put it -- the vote was an act of caring.  So the General Synod bishops, clergy and laity voted 250-181 to offer blessing rites for same-sex couples married by the state — while retaining church doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman. They have made marriage a distinction without a difference but that is not the worst of it.  They did it because they were driven by the idea that their action would prevent or relieve suffering.

If you used that criteria for much of what Christianity confesses as doctrine, there would be no doctrine.  Imagine all the ink that has been spent over whether baptism does something or symbolizes something, over who should or should not be baptized, and how that baptism should take place.  The suffering born of those who insist someone is not baptized or that the baptism effected nothing is not without pause.  Or look at the Eucharist.  What about all the arguments over whether there is anything but bread or no bread left, whether this communion imparts something or symbolizes it, and who should be admitted and who should not be admitted to the Table.  The suffering born of those who sit excluded in the pew while others eat at the rail has been the subject of both reasoned and passionate words for centuries.  

If you used suffering as a litmus test for what you should believe or confess or do, would it not then be prudent to repudiate Scripture, St. Paul, and even Jesus Himself for saying the things said about those who practice adultery, fornication, homosexuality, slavery, etc.?  These are certainly seen as offensive words which have contributed to the suffering of those who believe they did not commit sin but were ordered by God with these desires or led by God out of unhappy situations.  No, the Word of God would not survive such a standard.

If the fact that suffering is caused is the reason why something ought to be or not, then how could Jesus escape condemnation?  Indeed, should Jesus have come at all?  Christianity is blamed for all kinds of wars and abuses.  Would there have been less suffering in the world if Christ had never been incarnate?  What about the suffering Jesus says will come to you because you belong to Him?  If ever there was a reason not to be Christian, it would be to avoid suffering.  The world has never been friendly toward Christianity even when some tried to make Christianity into a worldly power.  Who in their right minds would choose a faith that would bring you into conflict with the world, the culture, the society, etc.?

There is only one standard for judgment that befits the Church.  What does God say?  It does not matter if we understand it or can comprehend why God says it.  It matters only that God said it.  His Word is the ground of our being.  Archbishop Welby is waging a dangerous game by making suffering the condition of what the Church says or does.  For by that very same argument, there would be no Christian Church at all.  Maybe Bp Welby should explore Buddhism.


Dr.D said...

Welby is a false prophet, an apostate bishop. He should be removed and sent to a monastery to contemplate his errors and repent.

What has happened to Anglicanism in the UK is the same thing that has happened to established Churches throughout Europe, except that the CoE is still seen by many as the Mother Church of Anglicanism. That Mother Church understanding was recently shattered by the GAFCON declaration coming out of Rwanda about 10 days ago.

Fr. Sam+
Continuing Anglican Priest

Janis Williams said...

Has the focus of the Church and its leaders shifted? It seems they/we should to focus on alleviating human suffering. Whether that is relieving thirst by digging wells (without teaching about Christ and His salvation), or affirming someone’s “gender” without the honesty of Scripture, we may alleviate temporal suffering only to find we have ensured those we helped are destined for Hell. But of course, Hell is really only on this earth, right? (Sarcasm.)