Sometimes it’s very difficult to explain what the fundamental problems are within the Anglican Church, obscured as they are by the latest round of ‘who’s done what to whom’, or by the whole presenting gay issue. These latter things often become the smoke and mirrors that obscure the deeper issues.
So, with that in mind, I’d suggest checking out this article recently posted by Fr Jake. Now, I’m not suggesting that everybody with a ‘liberal’ perspective shares these sentiments, nevertheless it is revealing of a particular way of understanding the gospel, that uses the same language, but ends up in a very different place.
I read what John-Julian has written, and some of it I can agree with in part, but some of it certainly not.
My whole issue is with a gospel that, at the end of the day, seems to be a rather weak version of the same. Why evangelise when the best you are doing is to give a person who already knows Christ through their own religion (or no religion at all) a better understanding of the truth? No salvation, mind, they are already saved.
The issue is not about sincerity. The issue is about sinfulness. The issue is about recognising that even our most righteous acts are no more than dirty rags in Gods eyes. Hence, we don’t need a friend we can reach out to in sincerity. We NEED a saviour.
As far as other religions go – yes, I can see that they contain good aspects, and that goodness comes from God. However, I affirm salvation is through Christ alone. The truly historical, living Christ. Not, have some have put it, Christ as ‘love’, which can be a very amorphous concept flecked through, at least in our case, with plenty of sin.
I don’t believe that Muslims are worshipping Jesus at all. They would be insulted if you suggested this. They worship Allah. I know an ex-Muslim who has very particular ideas as to who Allah is.
Can ‘good’ people of other religions come to God through Christ? Perhaps so, it is simply not for us to know. But to move from that to a position where all faiths are worshipping Jesus, well no, I cannot go there. I think that indeed demotes Jesus, who suddenly is everything and thereby rather amorphously nothing.
The sense I get from “whose Son sacrificially cancelled all ideas of divine wrath or judgment” is definitely one of universalism. Jesus spoke rather a lot of hell. Either He was mistaken, or there really are going to be many who are going to go there. You and I might not like it, but those are the words and I prefer to read them plainly.
To finish with, John-Julian says: “He is the Way – that is, any human way to God is Christ. He is the Truth – that is, every truth is Christ. He is the Life – that is, every life is Christ. There is no way to the Father except through the Christ, so all ways to the Father are also Christ, even when that is not overtly stated.”
I’m going to go with Matthew 7: 13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
God in His mercy grant that we, in fear and trembling, may find that Way.
Tis an interesting development with the C of E… many are still waiting to see if there’ll be a split!
Maria in the UK
Peter – Matt Kennedy over at Stand Firm has written a terrific piece entitled, Exclusivity and Salvation. Gave me a much better understanding of the topic.
I think maybe John-Julian should re-read Revelations of Divine Love – although there has to be separation of those who truly, truly don’t want to be with God, I take comfort in the words quoted at the end of Chap. 32 – “I will keep my word, in evey detail, and I shall make all things well.”
I’ll have to look that up.
It’s a hard thing really, and a mystery. I too trust in a God who will make all things well.
I appreciate your words. In my community, I have limited opportunities to interact with Episcopalians. Therefore, my understanding of the struggles is limited. Personally, I have not been able determine much difference between the Episcopal Church-USA and abject universalism, exept maybe, pretty vestments and a traditional liturgy. However, inherently, I know there must be a fuller picture here. Your words are encouraging. I hope you represent a strong voice within your family of faith, albeit, one that does not receive much publicity.
It’s an unfortunate reality for Anglicans in North America and through the ‘western’ world – though not just limited to an Anglican issue.
The good news is that the Anglican Communion is a lot bigger than the N American churches and as a body remain overall mostly faithful. It’s quite likely that there will be some form of discipline regarding the N American churches in the next few years, which us ‘dissenters’ and ‘extremists’ will welcome. See here (I am assuming you are in the States) http://www.acn-us.org/
The even better news is that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church!
I am from the States, southern Ohio, to be exact.
I hope there will be some form of discipline, something to challenge folks to re-evaluate their convictions. BTW-I will actually be speaking at an Episcopal Church in 10 days. It’s a ecumenical Thanksgiving service, hosted this year by our local Episcopal congregation. I look forward to it, by God’s grace, it will be a wonderful experience.
Hope that goes well. There are Episcopal churches, then there are Episcopal churches!
I think the discipline will go beyond re-evaluation, it’s well past that. We’re unfortunately talking of a split here 😦
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I have not read John – Julian’s original posting. But from what you quoted, here is clear example of eisegesis The etymology of this word is from the Greek eisgsis “act of proposing, advising, introducing”, from eisgeisthai “to bring in, introduce, propose, advise.” It is the interpretation of a text by reading into it one’s own ideas as compared to exegesis. It’s etymology is from Greek exgsis, from exgeisthai to “explain, interpret”, from ex out of, out + hgeisthai to lead. Exegesis is an exposition and explanation of a text of Scripture that does justice to the text.
The interpretation John Julian gives of John 14:6 is eisegesis through and through. It can be easily contradicted by looking at other texts in John. Let me illustrate this in the following way. When the principle of exegetical interpretation is brought to what John – Julian says here, we can ask the question.
If this interpretation is true to John’s intention than why does John Gospel include these words in the first chapter?
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Within the context of the culture to whom John wrote these words, religious ideas and practice were legion. John declares that to all who received and believed in His name he gave the right to become children of God. The object of this verb is Jesus and those who believe in him are the verb’s subject. This is abundantly clear. The plain reading of the text of scripture defines belief in Jesus as necessary in order for us to become God’s children.
With this in mind we can turn back to John 14:6 and show how John – Julian’s interpretation is his reading into the text what he wants it to say and is not what the text says when understood within its larger context.
In conclusion, let me say that what is happening within the Anglican Church’s interpreting of Scripture is a great deal of eisegesis. While it is cause for sighing we need to remember that these arguments are unable to be supported when we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. May those of us who have a love for the Lord and his Word be encouraged to think logically and carefully as we counter eisegesis we Holy Spirit inspired exegesis.