Blog Template Theology of the Body: Fr. WB Strikes Again: Anglicanism Meets Calvary

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fr. WB Strikes Again: Anglicanism Meets Calvary

Fr. WB has some decent thoughts on the life of the Church at the new ECUSA Covenant website. They love him there as much as we do here... and so, apparently, do dozens of Episcopalian bishops who have been passing around his ideas today.

Here is the best of it:

The death of Christ at once shows the essential unity of the Father and the Son, and consummates the mutual society of God and man. “From the first, the will to die was a part of the Messiah’s identification with men” – the Son left his divine prerogatives, emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and came to earth not to be served but to serve. The self-giving of God manifests itself in history, within the context of fallen creation, as the humiliation of the Son. Yet we know the self-abandonment, the kenosis of Jesus as the revelation of Messiah, as the drawing-near of the Kingdom – because the Kingdom is where God reigns, where his will is done, and on Calvary Jesus Christ does the will of his Father. On Calvary, God’s Kingdom comes (John 19.19). Thus the Cross manifests the essential unity of Father and Son, in a bond of love that is itself divine. “Behind the historical events there is the unity of the one God. This unity overcomes men and apprehends them through the Cross”.

The identity of the self-abasement of the Son with the inheritance of the Kingdom in history cannot be apprehended by “those who are perishing”. Therefore the Cross is the destruction of the wisdom of the wise, and the thwarting of the cleverness of the clever (1 Cor. 1.18). As Ramsey says, “the philanthropist, the reformer, the broad-minded modern man can never understand, in terms of their own ideals, what the Church is or what it means”.

The world will never understand the Church because the world will never understand the Cross – because the life of the Church is the gift of the Crucified. The broad-minded modern man sees in the Church a society constituted in renunciation of the telluric contexts within which he seeks a living, within which he looks for life. For the Church’s fellowship “springs from and bears witness to the events of Jesus in the flesh. The events created the fellowship and the fellowship mysteriously shares in the events”.

Ecclesial life – life in Christ – includes a conviction of the valuelessness of the local – of individuals and individual groups – outside the terms of its inclusion in the universal. A group or an individual’s membership in the one Body therefore “includes the redeemed man’s knowledge of death and resurrection through his place in the one visible society and through the death to self which every member and group has died”. Acts of disunity are thereby betrayed as inimical to the life of Christ – as anti-Christ. Yet any act uninformed by the life of the whole Body is just such an act of disunity. “For every part of the Church’s true order will bear witness to the one universal family of God and will point to the historic events of the Word-made-flesh”.

How might Anglicanism gesture “toward the question mark of Calvary at the center of its teaching”, even amid the difficulties and disagreements we face? Here are some far-fetched ideas:

Would that this difficult season of disagreement in the Anglican Communion were characterized by Christians competing with one another only to give the most extravagant gifts of self, to be the most gratuitous in their outpourings for the sake of one another. Would that the secular media told stories about parishes and dioceses attempting to give away their property to one another, rather than seeking to hold onto it at almost any cost, like ravenous dogs snarling over scraps. Would that when Anglican Christians sat down to eat, they might wait for one another, that the world might know that the Father sent the Son.

Read the rest here, and be sure to check out the new Covenant website. Let's just say that they are more peaceable than I am.