4/22/2010

Some good stuff from the Global South Encounter. Where there is good, praise it.

Well, there is a lot of foolishness going on at GSE4, just as there is in every gathering of church people. But there are also moments of wisdom. Here is one:

Cherie Wetzel, reporting on bible study at GSE4
included the presentation by the Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah, Assistant Bishop of Diocese of Singapore. In it he said,

"We function in a house that is an unrepentant institution (the whole Church, infected over the millennium by the world). Unless we seek the Word of the Lord daily, we will be shaped by the institution, not by God. We are rewarded by the praise we seek. Do we desire God’s praise or man’s? Where do your actions lead you? Whose praise do you desire?"

I agree at least in part with this.

This works for all the various churches of Christendom, and all the multiplicity of world wide Churches and every local household in the faith as well. Living in the Word of the God is, as Bill Stringfellow suggests, essential. The idolatry of all churches as institutions is that they are substitutes for the living body of which we are all members. And, indeed, if we are shaped by them we will also live and die with them.

My one disagreement is this business about "infected over the millennium by the world." It sets up a dualism that need not be invoked. The "world" is not the infection, as if the world was somehow separate from any or all living bodies, including the body of Christ. The world is beloved, that for which the Lord Jesus gave himself. The several churches must take responsibility for the estrangement, having been idolatrous in their claims to be pure and the world impure.

Still, no preacher is without those who carp about the edges. At the center Bishop Ponniah has said something very important here.

Later in his reflection the bishop says something peculiar and yet very telling: "So let me ask you again, leaders of the Global South: Will we be an army of sheep led by a lion, or an army of lions, led by a sheep?" We know that some are given to speaking of Archbishop Akinola and others as "lions." Is the challenge here that the Archbishops, "lions of the faith" be led by the Lord who is often symbolized as a Lamb? If so the good bishop as a touch of William Blake going for him and is given to moments of critical comment as well. Archbishops, attention!

Meanwhile thanks to Ms. Wetzel for posting this. I wish she could refrain from taking the "lion" image in other directions, but oh well.

5 comments:

  1. The first social task of the Church is to let the world know it is the world.
    --Hauerwas

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is that Stanley Hauerwas who wrote "Why Gays (as a Group) are Morally Superior to Christians (as a Group)?"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brave Bishop. I am always suspicious of those who are "lions" of the faith. They always devour.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yep. Same guy. Great essay. Commended to all who read this. But before y'all get too excited, he is absolutely against active gay ordination and gay marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes.

    I understand he's something called "paleo-orthodox," so I didn't have much hope of deep wisdom. But, some wisdom is better than none.

    He'll come around in time.

    ReplyDelete

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