Some of my readers may wonder why I have shown such little interest in the Lambeth Conference now coming into its final days, not to rise again for another ten years. After all, even Stephen Colbert did a lengthy piece on it. There are plenty of other sites that are dedicated to, one might even say obsessed with, Lambeth, and I have offered my thoughts on several of them. I taught a workshop on Lambeth at the small rural church I serve in retirement, and offered my materials to any other priest in our diocese who might want to use them. I get daily updates on Lambeth goings on from multiple sources of varying reliability. The one thing they all have trouble with is remembering and having faith that this is not our church but God’s church of which we are the temporal custodians.
I love our Anglican ways, especially as they are expressed in the Episcopal Church, and I hope that the greater Anglican Communion can grow in godly wisdom and strength. I favor a covenant of some kind to give more structure and identity to the communion, but not in a form that is built around punitive discipline. I regret the controversies over homosexuality and personally favor full inclusion in ways that bring all into making commitment to the fullness of the Christian moral life, and that would mean finding a way to provide blessings for same sex unions, but only through a solid biblically based theological argument.
My prescription for dealing with fulminating extremists frothing at the mouth is probably not very acceptable to the majority. I would require them to join together in missionary outreach for three to five years in a certain place. The Falkland Islands come to mind, perhaps somewhere in the outer Aleutians, or, if they are too cold and wet, how about Midway?
In the meantime, I want to get on with proclaiming the gospel, celebrating the sacraments, teaching and forming disciples, helping others discover their gifts for ministry, and being the pastor I am called to be, even as a retired priest and aspiring curmudgeon.
4 thoughts on “Lambeth Sidebar”
Steve, you wrote: \”The one thing they all have trouble with is remembering and having faith that this is not our church but God\’s church of which we are the temporal custodians.\” Is this a variation on, \”Let God\’s will, not my will, be done.\”? But if so, wouldn\’t the very folks you\’re concerned with insist that that is exactly what they are doing? And if so, if they take their own insistence as itself a sign of the depth of their faith, how do you get them to see the way they take their own faith to itself be a violation of custodianship?What has to give here?—good to be not just reading, but now responding, Steve.Tom Davis
Greetings Tom,I think that temporal stewardship is a little different than \”thy will be done\” because the steward really has control and decision making authorityr over what has been put into his/her hands, and an accountability at some future date to the owner for how things have been managed. A good and wise steward, would, it seems to me, pray for him/her to exercise that stewardship according to God\’s will – compare, for instance, Solomon\’s prayer in 1 Kings 3. I imagine that all parties to the current debate would confidently proclaim that that is exactly what they are doing, but from the outside looking in I can see little evidence of it. On the far right are those whose words sound more like megalomaniac scrambling for ecclesiastical power and making absurd moral judgments that bear not a trace of Christ\’s love. On the far left are those whose words of inclusion are based on Enlightenment arguments for justice with only a passing gesture toward a deep theological engagement with scripture and tradition. Mixed in are all kinds of assumptions each has of the other about North American/European culture vs. African culture. The image that comes to my mind is of 15th through 18th century Europe that produced some of the greatest theologians ever but mixed them in with some of the most self-centered, power hungry manipulative political operators ever who were willing to destroy as many others as needed in order to \”win.\” H\’mm, sounds a little like our current administration doesn\’t it?CP
P.S.A recent study reported by a fellow whose name escapes me for the moment, alleged that North Americans and Europeans had for decades called up persons for the priesthood based in part on personalities deemed to be able to love everybody in Christ\’s name. These same personalities also seem to be unable to make difficult decisions for fear of alienating someone, are reluctant to take chances, and prefer others to set new directions for them to follow. If that is true, then in between the far right and far left, we\’ve got maybe a few too many ecclesiastical wimps wringing their hands and wondering what to do. See how well I am developing my new skills as a curmudgeon.