Saturday, December 13, 2008

Idols of Orthodoxy

Word comes from Ft. Worth that Jack Iker has resigned his ordination in the Episcopal Church. Hopefully this will save the continuing diocese of Ft. Worth much headache as it sorts out whose property is whose. At least now I can go to Ft. Worth and find a real Episcopal Church that professes what the Episcopal Church professes not fearing reprisal from the local ordinary.

For the past 30 years in some locales there have been those who have ‘gone whoring after other gods’. This phrase has always struck me as funny. But in the day that it was coined, Israel had to guard against participating in the religions of the nations around them. The fertility cults of those Semite peoples around them often employed what we would call temple prostitutes. Their religions often called for participation in fertility rituals. Today we hear the phrase as being distracted by the lures of the world: consumerism, egoism, nationalism, etc. But the present crisis in the Church is just as much a battle between those who adhere to a living God and those who are tempted by the gods of our day.

Karen Armstrong coined a phrase “the idols of orthodoxy”. It conjures the image of the followers of such gods as being in bed with a type of religion that most likely never was and will never be. It is requires an obeisance to an idea of a Church that could never have been a faith. Being subservient to orthodoxy is being caught in a time warp.

Now I have no problem with history and tradition and I am Anglican enough to know that it is in the past that we find the faith for the future. But faith can never be subservient to orthodoxy if it is a faith given by the Holy Spirit.
‘The Holy Spirit blows where it wills.’

Every time I am exposed to a rant from the “orthodites”, (I refuse to call them orthodox because that means ‘right thinking’. That implies that there is thinking going on!) I begin to lose the charity upon which my faith is founded. ‘Orthodites’ seem to only want to prove how ‘right’ they are rather than live out the transforming love that Christ holds out to those who are in relationship with him. It is also difficult to ascertain if the ‘right’ they cling to means ‘correct’ or what side of the aisle they sit.

Worship of the god of orthodoxy demands attention to detail, the constant search for the most historic and the discipline of inerrancy. There can be no dance with the ‘new thing’ that Christ promises, no cavorting with the Spirit that breaths life into an ever-growing Church, no transforming compassion.

The ordination of self-proclaimed archbishops, the development of extra-territorial gatherings that have more clergy than pew-sitters is basically sad. They had hoped that the Episcopal world was as back-ward looking as they. They had hoped to leave with a bang but the noise is more like a whimper. Yes, the loss of those Christians who have followed their bishops because they have not heard anything but what their bishops have told them of the Episcopal Church for a generation will find that there is nothing to their faith when the well of anger and self-righteousness runs dry. The Christian rightist movement will fade as the Boomers tire of the fight or grow too old to whore after their idols of orthodoxy.

Faith in the God of love, the Abba of Jesus Christ, requires our lives and our faith to change. Faith changes us and transforms the Church to be better and more compassionate. Perhaps we need to be less the passionate presence of Christ than the compassionate presence of a God who calls us to live into the newness of the Spirit.

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