Welcome! I will be using this blog to post my observations and reflections on General Convention 2006.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This is my second post on Tuesday morning, and contains some thoughts I've been putting down for several days. I share it with you in the hopes that our post-Convention dialog can be enhanced ...

In an age (and a Church) often marked by rancorous debate between the left and the right on any issue, we may wonder whatever happened to the middle. Sometimes those of us who consider ourselves moderates are ducking down to keep from being hit by the projectiles fired from one side at the other. Sometimes we’re trying to let calmer times come when we can reason together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

What is a moderate? I’ve been pondering that for a long time and have no definitive answers. Perhaps that is because moderates don’t have any answers; perhaps it is because we know that whatever answers we give are only temporary, that the next interchange in the dialog of faith will likely lead to another answer, another question, another answer, etc. So, as I’ve pondered my own inner life, here are some “bullets” (in no particular order except for the first one) that might open up the dialog with this moderate …

Moderate Positions, Commitments, and Characteristics (according to Father Bob)
  • Jesus Christ is Lord – everything else is commentary
  • Belief in a Trinitarian God
  • Commitment to the Nicene Creed
  • Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation
  • The Book of Common Prayer (and its teachings)
  • Adherence to the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church
  • More comfortable with questions than with answers
  • Listen carefully for where other people are in their faith journeys
  • Listen carefully for other people’s passions
  • Respond to the deep spiritual yearnings of people, not to their initial verbalization
  • The primary qualification for participation in the Church is that the individual is a sinner
  • Everyone who comes to the Church is led there by Christ
  • When people come to the Church we have to explore why … the gifts the Church has that they need to bring them closer to a saving relationship with Christ, and the gifts they bring that the Church needs to enlarge the our understanding of Christ
  • God is large – a lot larger than any of us can comprehend
  • We are to plumb the depths and riches of Christ
  • God is a God of variety; the Church should reflect that variety
  • Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: He acts with us in the Church; He acts without us outside the Church
  • Walls are not a particularly good thing
  • I don’t agree with everyone else (I don’t even agree with myself sometimes), but that doesn’t make either of us wrong (or right, for that matter).

If we all must agree on everything, isn’t that the building of a new “Tower of Babel”? In the Bible story, unity of language and purpose led to pride, with the people patting themselves on the back for being so smart. In turn, God decided to destroy the tower and to confuse our language in order to keep us mindful that only God creates anything of lasting significance. Differences remind us that God is Lord – not you, me, theologians, or doctrines. Dumb ideas, even heretical ones, won’t destroy us, our faith, or Our Lord. But ideas do lead us to ask more questions, seek more answers, and plumb anew the depths of Christ Jesus.

One of the blessings of being at General Convention is seeing and hearing the wide variety of passions, points of view, languages, and hopes of Episcopalians from around our Church, and of Christians from around the world. We may appear confused and confusing; but in our weakness, Christ is made strong.

If all this is muddy, then I’m in good company with St. Paul, who saw “in a mirror darkly,” but who had the confident faith that all would become clear in Jesus.