Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A little Theology for Advent.

No quality is as vital to effective Christian ministry as a sense of balance. Indeed, I personally believe that if a Clergyman can’t ride a unicycle he should never be considered completely trustworthy.

Take Calvinism, for example. Were I not a Christian I too would find myself drawn to a doctrine proposing a proportion of sentient beings are created for no other ultimate purpose than eternal torture. Given a bad enough day I might even find His Name glorified by their misery, although I would probably first have to develop a strangely sexual admiration for bullies – remind me to contact little Matt Kennedy or the Ould Twins for help in this regard.

At the other end of the spectrum the Aminian/Wesleyan alternative is hardly an improvement, and as a Christian I also find it an unacceptable option. The idea of waiting on the sidelines while someone you love “chooses” to plunge headlong into hellfire might be admirably stoic, but try using that as a justification next time a toddler fries their hand on your kitchen stove (“He’d been warned about touching it in a series of books and letters written 2,000 years ago, so he’s only got himself to blame”) and see how the Child Protection Agency buy it. Nor will the vicarious atonement argument (“Yeah, but my son also burnt his hand, and he did it first”) carry enough weight to stop the court issuing a permanent injunction against you hosting children’s parties.

No my Dearly Beloved Sinners; the genius of Anglicanism has been to tread a path between extremes, and that’s why we’ve held together over the centuries. The lunatic fringes have been drifting off to furtive meetings in rented halls since the first Elizabeth was a princess, but the core has remained regardless. Bobby Duncan may be the latest defrocked cleric with dreams of founding a new Zion, but he won’t be the last. Nor should anyone ever let themselves get to impressed by the likes of ex++Akinola’s rhetoric: when you’re preaching abroad it’s easy to appear as if you’ve got things under control. The real test is what parishioners are willing to do for $50 and a packet of American cigarettes when they think nobody’s watching – and no matter what the extremists will claim you’d better believe that’ll go a long way in Abuja when Big Pete’s out of town.

Which is why mature Sinners know the Christian life is a lot like captaining a ship through an ice field: take things slowly, keep a clear head and sharp eyes, and steer a gentle course straight down the middle, all while keeping your mind focused on the real task at hand – not drowning. Crashing into icebergs and other immutable objects (like sexuality) is no way to reach one’s destination, as I’m sure Captain Edward Smith would testify were he still with us. And as I fear Prelates emulating his example today will learn the hard way. I'd like to say the average person in the pew will miss them when they've gone - but the truth is they won't. Although their travel agents ought to send a lovely wreath: it's an ill wind of dubious doctrine that doesn't blow gently for someone.

I'm Father Christian and I teach the Bible.


Point of Order said...

Dear Father, It is clear to me that the dreaded revisionist Xmas Spirit has got a hold of you. We Anglicans may yet avoid the polar bear plunge.

Brad Evans said...