Sunday, June 04, 2006

It's All About the Resurrection, Stupid

Chapeau to Brad Drell, who links us to this on Captain Yips:

Dancing on Air

One thing about the furball that is the wreckage of ECUSA is that you can pull on just about any string to unravel a part of What Went Wrong. Some people point at Prayer Book Deformation, some at a lack of regard for something called “biblical authority,” some at Women’s Ordination, and some (especially in the wake of the John Bennison story) at the gradual but nonetheless radical changes in ECUSA’s notions about sexuality and marriage. With respect, I’m going to disagree a bit. The hole at the center was caused when too many of ECUSA’s Top Staff ceased to believe in the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus.

Too well I can remember when we began to hear, over 30 years ago, that we were to find “Christ among each other.” That was just the thin edge, but now we have any number of bishops and theologians and teachers who don’t believe that Jesus actually and physically rose. Spongy John is just the noisiest (and most simple minded) of this crew, and that ECUSA has never disciplined him, never repudiated his work, is diagnostic. The real division between the sides of controversy is here, and the two sides have increasing little to say to each other.
Those who believe in the physical resurrection give their loyalty to a Person, not to an idea or ethical position. Their thought is organized around that Person, and the central, earth shaking fact of His Resurrection and all that it implies. Those who do not believe in this physical resurrection tend to focus on the Church as an institution, on ethics, and, derivatively from ethics, on politics. At the moment, the dominant ethics happens to be dominantly left wing and “Green,” but it doesn’t matter. It could just as easily be right wing and capitalist in the extreme.

For one who believes in the Resurrection, this world, the world of idolatry, the wicked world, is under judgement and is already passing away. So when the believers come to last Sunday’s Gospel in John 17, Jesus’ long prayer is very pointed. The world (always, here, the wicked world, the world of idolatry) will hate Jesus’ followers because they do not follow the world’s ways. They are strangers in the world, as Jesus was, and are set aside, made holy, consecrated, to God’s purpose.

For those who do not believe in this Resurrection, about the only thing left is to try to make of the world, a heaven; but drifting anchorless, they hear the whisperings of the world and conform themselves more and more to the world, to analyze the Bible into meaninglessness, to adapt to “reproductive rights,” serial monogamy (or worse), to restlessly seek “relevant worship,” and to wonder why fewer and fewer listen to them every year.

Can anything be done? I’m doubtful, simply because there is little common ground. Those whose essential loyalty and commitment is to the Risen Lord may disagree on almost everything, but their common loyalty provides the key to discussion. But there’s little useful common ground between those who believe in the physical resurrection, and those who do not. Reconciliation requires a some common ground, and where it was there’s now a chasm.

No comments: