Friday, October 17, 2008
You know you are an Episcopalian…
…if you reach a point when you're not sure about anything theologically but you still feel completely at home at the altar rail and somehow know you're meeting God there, even though you can't begin to understand how.
I found this statement at the end of a list of funny statements that identify us as Episcopalians. I could not help the smile that came upon my face when I read this. And I couldn’t help but hear the rhetoric of the likes of + Iker, x+Duncan and those who damn the Episcopal Church that we don’t even believe in God anymore.
I majored in theology when I went to seminary. I had studied theology with the Jesuits at Loyola (NO) and Saint Louis University during my Roman Catholic incarnation, so I thought that theology would be a snap for me as an Episcopal seminarian. But the surety of Aquinas’ scholasticism was never an Episcopal thing except in some rather remote circles (i.e. Nashotah House). I soon found that jots and tittles were not observed in Episcopal theology especially at the Episcopal Divinity School. And for the first time in my faith life, theology and spirituality combined.
The more I became Episcopalian; the more I understood the unity of faith and reason. It no longer became an effort to suspend reason to know faith. This does not mean that my faith became more reasonable. Faith goes beyond reason because reason cannot encompass that which is Divine. It just became more reasonable to suspend it. The God that I knew, the Holy One I experienced, broke down those theological pigeon holes that once were convenient ways of describing God. My life became less involved with trying to describe God, or discuss God, and more involved with living with and serving God.
Today I read the likes of Spong, Borg, Wink, Heyward, Fox and find that it is not necessary to put theology into pigeon holes either. As I dance with the Lutherans I hear some heavy theology thumped by some, but mostly I hear the same kind of testing one’s relationship with God against how one is describing the activity of the Divine. And I believe this is a good thing. We are invited to the altar rail with a sense of wonder and acceptance that moves us beyond the ‘thou shalt nots’ and into a commandment to love.
I also see even theologians testing their theology with their spirituality rather than trying to fit God into “reasonable” arguments. I can no longer articulate salvation in the words of redemption economies. I have a hard time talking about salvation at all, except in the sense of the kind of universality that God wants to be a part of everyone’s lives. I have a hard time thumping a theology of human damnation from the fall because I know the mercy of Christ’s life among us. Yet in that acceptance I can know clearly how much I fall short of God’s desire for me. It is in the light of God’s embrace that I know my sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world which bring me to my knees in humility and remorse.
So I DO have a theology of God, Humanity, and Creation. I do have a notion of how sin affects the individual soul and the world. I believe in a sense of shalom that is offered to all which is how I understand heaven. My faith is quite traditional and orthodox no matter how I am seen by those who might label me otherwise. Can I count how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I don’t bother. Some things I can leave up to God.