The Doctrine of God...I'm working on it!

Over on AnglicansDownUnder, the blog of Peter Carrell, Peter has just recently posted a very poignant commentary on faith in the circumstances of these days. Our shaky doctrine of God is an honest admission that making sense of God is not easy in the shakedown following disaster, natural and otherwise. Peter writes, 

"...when I try to speak about God (witness) or speak to God (praise and prayer), what do I say which is truthful of God (the infinite) and understandable for humans (the finite)?

Although my dissatisfaction is a response to some of what I am hearing and reading in these days of locally and globally getting to grips with nature's devastation, I think my dissatisfaction is about my own understanding of God, in which there are too many half-baked ideas such as when things work well God is working in my life (obviously!) and when things are not working well then God's ways are inscrutable (obviously!) ... which seems contradictory. My dissatisfaction leads to questions, but I do not feel I have answers (my soundbites are better than yours ... not)!"

Peter is on the case, as usual.  He and I have never met. We don't seem to agree about a number of things, including what to do with the Anglican Covenant, how to understand the Anglican Communion, and all sorts of other ecclesial matters. But I have come to admire his honest tenacity and his willingness to share the struggles he himself is undergoing. Worse yet, as a writer I have come to appreciate his clarity and care with words, so along with admiration comes is a bit of envy. 

Back Porch Contemplation
After a six month sabbatical from preaching, possible because of the kindness of the Rector of all Lewes, I am back on on Sundays, beginning this Sunday. I'm sitting on the back porch of our house here in Lewes, having just finished writing my sermon, Looking it over I am aware mostly of its shortcomings. I'm trying to address a bit of Peter's concern for the Doctrine of God, given the Gospel reading for the day, the first reports of the no-fly enforcement in Libya, and the ongoing issues in Japan, New Zealand, Haiti, and on and on.  The words stumble, and I stumble. I will probably change a lot of this by tomorrow morning. It is not an easy time to preach!

It's a beautiful, but a bit chilly, day here in Lewes, the small town by the bay and the big water. I have the required instruments of destruction. I have all the required tools - a reasonable faith, a decently ordered (although not by some standards) mind, and a really great computer. But I stand dumb in the face of the question about an adequate doctrine of God.  It's not because there isn't sufficient theological work done on this, but because, as Peter suggests in a follow-up to his previous post,Stabilizing our witness

"the challenge of witnessing credibly, with a stable witness undergirded by a secure doctrine of God, is so huge that we cannot meet the challenge in our own strength. We need God's Pentecostal power."

"God's Pentecostal power." Amen. 

We Anglicans, and particularly we Episcopalians, would do well to come back to a reliance on God's Pentecostal Power.  Peter's comments are well worth the read. I urge you to read both his blog entries. And then I urge myself, you, dear reader, Peter, and damn near everyone else to open our hearts to how that power might find voice in our witness.  I have to tell myself, don't worry. The words will come as needed, for the Spirit groans deeply as we struggle to make sense of it all.

The Doctrine of God.... I'm working on it.  Peter is working on it. You are working on it. Perhaps God is working on it in us, provoking words beyond words.

Eli the dog
Time to go in and get a cup of coffee to work off the chill from the end of the day. Even Eli the dog is getting cold.

"God's Pentecostal power.  Amen."

1 comment:

  1. Naturally I'll let you know when I have it all sorted ...


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