Sunday, September 28, 2008

Irish Archbishop calls for cease-fire in sex row

The Archbishop of Armagh has called for a ceasefire between the warring factions of the Anglican Communion, arguing that as truth is unknowable, faithful Christians must suspend their critical faculties and place their reliance wholly upon God to lead the church.

Drawing upon the text of Ephesians 2:15-16 in a sermon delivered on Sept 19 at St Thomas’ Church in Belfast, Dr Alan Harper explained the theological rationale for his position in the communion’s sex wars.

Division among Christians has been a “major contributor to social and international division,” he said, citing examples through history up to the contemporary “Balkan conflicts.” These divisions were evident in Belfast where “you and I live in a city and a society in which walls of division stand tall: walls of concrete and steel, but also, that which it is harder to dismantle, walls of the mind.

“We live in a Communion in which difference is being hardened into division and hostility, and issues in defiant words and provocative acts,” Dr Harper said. “And while this happens the poor are not fed, the sick are condemned to suffer and to die un-noticed, the stability of the earth’s heat engine is further compromised and the earth itself is ruthlessly plundered through greed.”

Because we are all sinners, it was wrong to judge others. “Only the most outrageous and egregious arrogance could make me think that I should turn a beam of criticism and hostility towards you when I know, if only I have the grace and integrity to admit it, the extent of the sinful inadequacy in my own life and nature,” he argued.

As our salvation comes through the cross, Dr Harper argued, we should not be quick to judge other sinners who “cling to that cross.” “Of all people qualified to make judgments about anyone else, I am the least! Indeed, to do so, to enter into judgment about the state of any other soul, is to usurp the authority of God,” he said.

As a Christian his task was “to be committed to setting aside any and every pretence of judgment, or any prejudice I may have or harbour. I must look at you and at every other man, woman or child who articulates through word or deed a faith in Jesus Christ and see not all that God can see but only what God chooses to see.

“Through Christ God chooses to see only Christ in me, I am permitted to look upon you and to see only Christ in you,” he said. By looking not at the sins or errors of others, but at the Christ in them, “the wall of division with all its hostility is utterly removed! How can I look upon the face of Christ in you and maintain hostility or countenance division? How can I? Unless I choose to visit condemnation upon myself I cannot.

“Walls of division give a temporary sense of a kind of security: the kind that keeps others out and our fearful self in. Real security, however, comes only when walls are removed and “the other” becomes a brother! And that depends upon daring to adopt a different outlook, one that is not fearful of the fallibility of the flesh but trustful of the outcome of life in Christ,” Dr Harper said.

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Sotto Voce

(Source: RI)

1 comment:

MadPriest said...

"Truth is unknowable"
What sort of puerile nonsense is that to come out of the mouth of a supposedly educated person?

For a start it cancels itself out. Because, if truth is unknowable there is no way that we would ever know if truth is unknowable.

Some days, I despair.