Saturday, 28 June 2008

Guest Post - Comments From My Brother on "An Anglican Parable"

Hi John: what you are going through is what we went through many years ago with the United Church.

We quickly realized that there was no use in fighting and arguing as neither side REALLY listens to the other.

As you know, we left, started our own congregation along with the minister. It didn’t last as long as we had wished but we have all moved on from there and to my knowledge no one has returned to our beloved St. John United.

We truly loved it there. We didn’t want to leave. Some decided to fight from within. St. John’s actually still preaches the gospel but being there and giving our offerings meant that some portion of the $$ went to headquarters and we didn’t want that.

It was and still is painful to us. We were a family. It was home. I shared pulpit duties, I was the chair of the worship committee, I was the chair of the men’s committee. I led the men’s discipleship group every Saturday morning. I was saved there.

We left. We knew we wouldn’t “win” as we were far out numbered by those who had the vast majority. Those who decided that revenue and attendance was more important than sticking to biblical truths. The big furor was when the same sex issues came to light and the United Church decided that it was O.K.

In my opinion, through many discussions at men’s nights etc., it became apparent to me that many of the membership were against same sex because they were “homophobes” and not because they were following biblical truths.

These were the same people that thought “Dear Heavenly Parent” was an appropriate way to begin a prayer.

These were the same people that even went so far to suggest that God could be a lady because he/she was after all only a spirit.

These people also bought and sang from the new revised hymn book that took classics like Praise My Soul the King of Heaven and made it The God of Heaven.

These and many more examples were taken in stride and in some instances were embraced.

Those who opposed were more likely to be chauvinistic than to be proponents of biblical truths. Folks who were more likely defending tradition than truth.

For us, to stay and debate was and still would be futile. We decided to channel our energies into our new church home. It wasn’t the same, it seems like it will never be the same.

I expect that the Anglican Church will go ahead and do what they wish. The voices of the dissenters will fall on deaf ears. Some of the faithful will stay because it is “their church” – they built it, their kids grew up and married there. Some will stay because they will think about both sides and their arguments and decide that its O.K. to stay and to accept the change. Some will stay because they want to “fight” from within.

Some will recognize that all the energy expended on arguing with the majority is no longer worth it and will move on.

No matter what, it will never be the same. Not for those who stay, not for those who leave and just stay home, not for those who go to alternate churches and not for those who break away and begin their own fellowship.

(But) through all this I am sure Jesus wept.


PS: One last thought – if you stay for ANY reason – you have compromised.

Take care

1 comment:

Warren said...

Don, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I have a different perspective on the UCC and Anglicanisn and would welcome your feedback on my following comments. Two years ago, just before my first meaningful exposure to Anglicanism (in a parish that is now part of the ANiC), I too saw many parallels between the ACoC and the UCC. However, as I have learned more about historic, orthodox Anglicanism, my perspective has changed. Although I don't know a lot about how the UCC came into being, I suspect that it was a spiritual offspring of the liberal theology that started to pervade mainline churches around the start of the 20th century. Because of this, I think that the UCC was founded on shifting sand and has no orthodox conservative tradition to return to. I also suspect that the word "conservative", in a UCC context means, something entirely different than in an independent Baptist context. Anglicanism, on the other hand, is, in part at least, a product of the Reformation (although I understand it is more complicated than that) and was founded on orthodox biblical doctrines - doctrines that have just been reaffirmed in the Jerusalem Declaration made at the end of GAFCON. Because of this, and because orthodox Anglicanism is still strong in other parts of the world, I see the current "dissent" as the beginnings of a return to true, biblical Anglicanism. It may not be the "same" but I think (God willing) it has the potential to be better.

On a personal note, I grew up in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) and remember, growing up in the 60s, being given the impression that the UCC was barely a Christian church (Pentecostals were great at stereotyping) and that it cared far more about good works and political activism than true belief in and worship of God. That said, my father, who is a PAOC Bible School graduate, flirted with the idea of being ordained in the UCC and actually did some lay preaching in some small UCC churches. My mother, however, did her best to protect my sister and I from any UCC "influence". My attitude towards the UCC softened slightly in the early 90s when I met an old friend of my mother who had been ordained in the UCC and had served many years as a missionary in Africa. Interestingly, his father was an old-time Pentecostal preacher who stayed active in the PAOC into his 80s. I recall having a long conversation with my mother's friend and being impressed at how orthodox his views on Christianity seemed. I haven't had contact with him since (I think he is still active as a minister), but have always wondered about his reasons for staying in the UCC.