Posts Tagged ‘Body of Christ’


When Phil Jackson coached the LA Lakers he would say if there was a negative player they would be housed on away games in another hotel from the team altogether. Why? That negativity would be infested. It was a corrective action, much like in our own bodies if we break a limb and it is casted, or get a cut and use a band aid (or depending on the severity stitches).

This analogy of body healing came to me as I contemplated these words of St. Paul today and the state of churches in pain:

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

-1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 (New International Readers Version)

The analogy that Paul uses to explain a church is of a body. In more modern times we use the idea of corporation or family. But let’s reflect on these words in times of conflict. In times when deep holy conversations need to happen. There are points when healing needs to happen– ala truth and reconciliation. Think of this as stitches or a caste.  The scarring of the wound is still there, but we have healed and moved forward as one body.

But then there is deeper pains, these are the hates, the prejudices, the bigotries that emerge as a result of fear of change, formation, or simply, deeply held beliefs. The Anglican Church of Canada bishops recently showed these signs with their vote against belonging for the LGBTTQ2+ community within their own church. On a smaller scale, faith healing congregations show this towards persons with disabilities tying their different Image of God to a lack of faith on the part of the person or their family. It can also be an unwelcome, acting passively aggressively or overtly bullying of a person within pews during worship so your lips say welcome, but your actions clearly say you do not belong here and we will remove the safety of the sanctuary until you get the message.

It is a chronic disease. Most notably a fast acting cancer, like negativity on a basketball team (I mean, Phil Jackson should know what he speaks of he did manage to get Shaq better at free throws).

The response in churches I am most used to, is it is ignored, and the leadership refocuses on what is going well for the damage is only beholden to one small segment, usually those that do not give huge amounts of money or is new, so that loss does not matter.

YET, here are the words’ of Paul speaking of the need for every part of the body, and what role they play. What if this person that creates discomfort for better belonging is the agent breaking the artery clog to stave off a stroke or a heart attack? Is the EMDR-ART to heal the PTSD? The CBT that corrects disassociation?

The radiation or chemotherapy or operation that removes the cancer for longer life.

See the toxicity is usually pacified, because good people are also a small portion of the congregation that do a lot of work and are tired. They are also fearful of conflict in this time of shrinking attendance, and fear the time the congregation’s life cycle is at an end. Though by ignoring the cancer, it goes from something small and quickly treatable to, well, cancer left unchecked becomes terminal.

The question for a church, that is a Body of Christ, are what choice are you making when confronted with what could be a terminal illness? Ignore and let it consume you? Take your own life? OR Treatment and healing.

The question is as personal for each Body of Christ, as it is for each patient.


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay so I admit it, I loved my time in ministry within the Catholic Church. The Basillian Fathers and Sisters I served with totally got what it meant to live Christ in their community.  By now, everyone has probably heard/read the resignation that shook the globe, he has become one of five, and the first in 600 years to abdicate (royal head of state don’tcha know); resign from the Holy See due to ill health. Pope Benedict XVI is about to go back to being just theologian (retired) Josef Ratzinger. Setting aside all the questions regarding what it will mean to have a living ex-pope and newly minted new pope before Easter 2013 for the almost 1.2 billion catholics awaiting their new Holy Father

Let’s see what this man of God could do to transform the world’s perception of his corporation:

1) Announce an open vote for parishes instead of a conclave, this motion made ex-cathedra could not be revoked and be truly transformative for the Body of Christ, where Palm Sunday parishners could vote and on Easter Sunday the new holder of the Seat of Peter can be celebrated.

2) Decentralize/close and liquidate the Vatican making the monies available as a living micro-finance venture/affordable housing/free medical care faculty for the world truly transforming our globe and showing what the selflessness of Christ’s miracles were truly about.

3) Release all sealed/secret papers, files and books from all Diocessan offices and the Vatican. Truly shine the light of the Holy brightly to illuminate all the evil, and all the good this body has done for the world, and let the chips fall where they may.

4) End mandatory celibacy, allow marrieds and singles, male or female (or any other blooming label humanity wishes to use to divide us) to answer the vocational call of the Holy Mystery to ordination.

5) Issue a decree for all Catholic Diocese/churches to surrender their charitable- tax-exempt statuses to breath a renewed soul through manna into society.

Pope Benedict, you still have time to radically let the Holy Spirit work to create a legacy for Christ within this world…17 days for a pope is a long time…

Reminder:

It is time to gather as the collective body of Christ and pray for our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church, as their leader has abandoned them, and their cardinals will gather end of the month to choose a new successor to Peter…perhaps the Spirit will once again move and the work started at Vatican II will be completed…


Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia.

Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have read that right, what we are existing in now as church is such in flux I do not know if we can as yet claim the title of “Christ” but we can claim the symbol of the cross (thank you St. Andrew for the “X” symbology). Regardless of the #hashtag or denomination or trademark or brand your local church or youself has slapped on the building, confirmation, baptismal or other sacramental record in my mind 2013 the Mayans may have been right about something.

2013 for them was not the end of the world, in my shamanic training it was about the old realities and systems dying away and a new way of being birthed. As a Franciscan historically we do not believe of a Reformation or Restoration as a one off event. This is a constant event since the birth of Christ, a constant, if we are truly a body learn basic biology as bodies constantly shed/gain weight, cells, skin etc… yet some limbs may even be lost or old organs replaced, yet the body continues.

Unfortunately as institutions we can use sight of this. We strive to keep the ship even kiel, to keep the buildings and seminaries rolling, to not change how elders, boards, pastors, bishops, etc are selected or even how the worship experience happens. Why? Because we believe we are being the rock in the midst of the chaos of the world, a place of refuge/sanctuary for the weary believer, a hosptial if you will for healing.

But what if we are wrong?

What if the X-roads we are at is not about maintaining, but LETTING GO.  Yes read that again, LETTING GO(D). Let’s throw open the church and look at what needs to happen in the world? What happens if en masse the 2 billion believers got together and showed our treasures and said we want a Christ miracle, let’s end poverty… could we do it? Could we end illness? Let’s dream big folks? Can we cast of the shackles of the past and live out our faith in radical ways?

2013 is a time for the old to perish and the new to be birthed. We are in the midst of a reformation as the church is struggling between many factions: Liberal, Conservative, Charismatic, Mainliners, Liturgists, Catholics, Orthodox, Romans, Evangelicals, Liberationists, Red Letters, Universalist, Calvinists, Reformers, Health& Wealth gospellers, Monastics, Clerics, Sisters, Nuns, and the list goes on.

But it is a human created list, what we need to remember is that we are called into a life of service of God‘s creation, by God, within this call we each have our own gifts and vocations to be lived out and the labels are fragmenting and impeding the work out of God’s Love within this world.

So in 2013, remember, it is God that calls, it is God that empowers, but it is you that MUST act or not, upon that call.

Xianities are at a X-roads, are you willing to leave the pew/prayer closet and actually BE the Body of Christ?

For then a true miracle will arise in 2013 as the old “frozen chosen”, the musty old cathedrals of our souls will have the doors and windows blown open for the Holy Spirit to live and breathe in.

Alleluia anyone?


Holy Spirit painting

Holy Spirit painting (Photo credit: hickory hardscrabble)

Church has become closed in some instances and the challenge is as John XXIII said of Vatican II, the doors may be locked but let’s open the windows and allow the Holy Spirit to blow through and cleanse us of the winter dust.

Is the church international, the Christianities as a whole willing to allow for the Holy Spirit to blow through even if it means losing local congregations, but the result being a healthier body of Christ?

Here are a few quick points that I would challenge any denomination/local congregation to take on and see just how much they trust God and the discipling of their congregations to continue to do God’s work? Do we as believers worship God or Money?

The challenge:

1) Will we follow the teaching of Christ and render onto Caesar that which is Caesar. Will the church surrender their non-profit status within Canada?

2) Will our Clerics become true clerics and not agents of the government. Will we surrender our ability to marry, and move to a more blessing system for civil marriages of faith family members.

3) Will we cease living in deficitis, and take a hard look at what we can afford. Will we use our buildings to transform our socieities.

4) Will we release the Gifts that exist within our congregations, affirm that all work is done out of the love of God and is thus a Holy Vocation.

5) Are we willing as churches as a whole to sit down with one another and stipulate what we as a universal church are going to do to live out life as the Body of Christ regardless of our denominational labels?

6) Quit plug n’ play programming church families to death, and create an honest ministry to grow disciples of the living Cosmic Christ?

Are we up for the challenge? Or are we just happy with the status quo?


English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Introduction

Strong’s (1903) Systematic Theology: A compendium designed for the use of theological students within its three volumes more than lives up to the turn of phrase compendium. This writer not being a strong proponent of systematic, but rather a more holistic interdisciplinary methodology finds Strong’s exhaustive meta-narrative/analysis. He is a thorough compiler that presents an almost three thousand page tomb on the Western understanding of theology and how this discipline was grown. One step at a time, unfortunately it is not truly an exhaustive focus as it does have the Western Church bias, ignoring half the world of theology, which would fit the Orthodox/Coptic style of theology which is more mystic than systematic.

Strong as with most of his contemporaries in systematic at the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th century attempt to bring the modern scientific movement into the fold of Christianity and more importantly into what they try and sell as the “hard” science of theology. What Strong produced was a pre-1903 encyclopedia of biased and slanted understanding of the sciences, social sciences and liberal arts that propped up his own understanding of the faith.

109 years on is this compendium still relevant in light of the move towards more integral, missional, intentional, emergent and wisdom systems of theology that tend to take a holistic perspective not only of the person, but the community and the story of the church? As one reads through Strong’s 1903 compendium the answer to the previous question more and more becomes no, as Strong shows his out datedness for the contemporary context of the Body of Christ.

Summary

Strong has built a meta-journey for the systematic theologian in the Western world. Page 2 illuminates that the only revealer of God is Christ Jesus. He then goes on to point out that both philosophy and science are good servants of Christ unless they rule out the Son of God (Strong, 4).  This is the baseline established as the compendium launches forward.

Revival is crucial for the life of churches as without it they will become secularized, missions will die out, and in a Revelations reference the candlestick will be removed (Strong, 5). This is the driving force that opens up the three volumes before the reader. It is within the homiletical nature of the book that Strong hopes to communicate the passion of systematic (p.6) for the truth that will move believers that the Trinity is an antidote to the false doctrine which has and presently threatens the church (Strong, 5).

Strong holds to the belief throughout that theology is science (27) and that its aim is to discover (28).  Theology holds a threefold purpose (29-30):

  1. Existence of God who has relations to the universe.
  2. In the capacity of the human mind for knowing God and certain of these relations.
  3. Provision of means by which God is brought into actual contact with the mind, or in other words, in the provision of revelation.

This science of discovery with its threefold purpose is the underpinning of the journey through systematic history to prove that each and every “orthodox” doctrine is true, while those that do not fit Strong’s systematic pattern are cast aside as heresy.

The question though is does this systematic process hold water today?

Interpretation

By equating theology to science, in the historical context it is obvious Strong is attempting to discredit evolution unless it allows for the incarnate Word. Yet what is really happening is that by equating theology to science Strong is hamstringing the art that is theology by confining it to a didactic method that is incomprehensible for the purpose.

The purpose of theology should be to understand the heart of God more for the believer, as noted in Canate’s (2012) Interdisciplinary Method in Christian Theology? In search of a working proposal opens up the third millennium context where this narrow of a focus does not hold sway. Correction, should not hold sway, unfortunately there is still a strong drive to not allow for Godly advancement in theology due to the unwavering belief that our understanding of God does not change.

This is the trap that systematic done encyclopedic has upon the Body of Christ. It lends itself to the once proven, never need to think about again dogma or the old chestnut of “the Bible says it, that’s it” usually applied to some belief that may never have been found in the Bible, or that has never been thought about since some thinker of the Fourth century CE came up with the theory that has then been indoctrinated in believers since.

This is the fallacy of theology as a science, for it lends itself to a method that must be reproducible. Regardless of time and space a believer should come to a doctrine, and be able to reproduce the systematic to come to the exact same conclusion just as one working out the solution of a physics formula. Unfortunately our God does not exist within a systematic box as the history of the Christianities proves by how often there is a reformation or restoration to the Heart of Christ.

Whether it was the “official” historical Reformation of the 1500’s, or the Great Renewals, the Great Schism; the Avalon Captivity (of the Papacy); the rise of the Franciscans, Jesuits, and Dominicans, the Social Gospel, or Liberation Theology each one shares in kind a move beyond simple systematic to a practical and pragmatic theology lived out from the heart of the Gospel story.

Which is the soul that is missing from Strong’s threefold possibility of theology (29-30):

  1. Existence of God who has relations to the universe.
  2. In the capacity of the human mind for knowing God and certain of these relations.
  3. Provision of means by which God is brought into actual contact with the mind, or in other words, in the provision of revelation.

How do these threefold possibilities hold up 109 years later? Let’s take them apart point by point:

 

  1. Existence of God who has relations to the universe.

Yes God has relations to the universe, but it is more than simply relations. From a wisdom theological perspective it is a mutual existence within one another. One where God rests inside Her creation and the creation rests within Him. A perspective that infuses all with the sacred, and rises up the ideal of coexisting as the caretaker of creation, both male and female created and bearing God’s image, infused with the life of breath, not just a “relation”.

  1. The capacity of the human mind for knowing God and certain of these relations.

At first read this second fold appears to be stating that humans can know relations of God, the unfortunate piece is that it does not hold to a holistic viewpoint of the human experience with God. Not a mind/soul/emotion/body of knowing God, but rather a platonic dualism where the mind can know but it is disconnected from that which is deemed “evil” thank to St. Augustine in the body and the transmission of original sin.

  1. Provision of means by which God is brought into actual contact with the mind, or in other words, in the provision of revelation.

Again, the final fold reveals an unwillingness to see that revelation from God is more than just a mind activity. It is a whole person contact that moves one into the revelation of God for them, but then takes it one step further as Revelations shows with sharing with the seven churches, or Acts 15 with the Jerusalem council. The revelation is holistic for the person, which is then taken into the community and shared, verified and lived out. Practical theology.

A strong example of this is found in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 10, more specifically here:

About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching                                    the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and                                   wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a                               trance. 11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet                                coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were                            all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then                               he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By                     no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or                                       unclean.” 15 The voice said to him again, a second time,                                                         “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”16 This happened                         three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.

                                17 Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision                           that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They                                     were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate.

(Acts 10:9-17, New Revised Standard Version).

The key points this revelation from God shows is that it is not only a “mind” thing, but rather God opens up Peter’s life and experience, the revelation of the gospel to the gentiles is centered on a bodily need of hunger, and then moves to a challenging emotional situation as Peter begins to argue with God about what is clean and unclean, the reason though takes hold in the mind that he is essentially arguing with the creator of everything, but it finally rests in verses 15-16 where God uses the holy three repetitions to point out that he needs to get up, kill and eat for what God has made clean no one can call profane (unclean).

The three repetitions also reminds the hearer/reader of another time Peter had to experience statements three times, and this was the three fold questioning by the resurrected Christ to become the minister of the flock. Christ, the ultimate holistic revelation of God’s Word, as the Word became flesh. A revelation that was truly more than just to the mind of the world. Christ is the revelation that is still living and breathing, and for God to be truly revealed it must not only sink into one’s mind but make the eighteen inch move to their heart. This is where systematic, and this compendium fall short because it reduces the knowing of God into nothing more than an academic exercise to prove God and disprove everything else.

How does Strong contradict himself up to this point? Simple, he holds to the idea of revelation to the mind, yet points out that scripture (Word of God) is the chief Christian revelation (70). The hang up though is that the scripture in our Bibles’ is but one form of the Word of God, the true Word of God is the Cosmic Christ, and that removes the revelation to simply the mind as noted above.

While Strong holds that theology is a rational necessity (52) it is more than that. Theology is the seeking of God by any believer as they move from being simply a believer to being a disciple and eventually within community to discerning their vocational call. This call is where the theology and even religion move from the theoretical, to as Strong stipulates, to the useful it becomes practical for the believer (Strong, 65).

There are some highlights within the compendium that one should be aware of. Due to its exhaustive nature it does eventually show a balanced relation to the systematic understanding of faith. Strong does place theologians and philosophers as complimentary in the exercise of understanding the science that is theology.

Strong does step out of the early 20th century mindset in volume two of this work as he walks through the doctrine of angels to prove that it is through a systematic understanding of this doctrine that one realizes this universe is simply a piece of reality (Strong, 133). The challenge however is that this statement points to a broader understanding/experience of the Holy Mystery, but one that is not to be grasped outside the box of only knowing God mentally.

Which then contradicts what happens within the third volume where Strong exegetes church structure from the writings of the New (Christian) Testament. The conclusion being that the Law of the church should simply be the will of Christ (Strong, 225). Unfortunately Christ is a whole person/community experience, not just of the mind so using this as the benchmark for the governance of the church it tears apart the earlier systematic established in his threefold possibilities.

This contradiction of the threefold possibilities of theology takes us back to the first volume where Strong reflects on the ancient Creeds of the church that these are not declarations of faith, but rather responses to ongoing heresies of their time (Strong, 57). Historically it may or may not be accurate (as the victors or survivors write history) to state that these Creeds were denials of ongoing heresy. Since most emerged from Ecumenical Councils (Nicene) or allegedly written by Bishops (Athanasius) it can lend credence to this viewpoint. However, the functionality of these documents since their writing has been more catechumenal than heretical battling. What does that mean? These creeds (and ones written later by other denominations to be used alongside or in place of) are now used as teaching tools to open up the dialogue with new believers during the discipleship process. They are used in response to the Great Commission to go forth and make disciples; they are used to form the personal and communal promises during the rites of passage sacraments. The Creeds (ancient and modern) are made highly practical tools to aid the discipling of the Body of Christ as they enter into the lived revelation of God.

Conclusion

It is rare that a compendium so thorough of the western systematic theology throughout time could be viewed so harshly. The view does not come from whether or not this compendium may prove a useful tool, or to whether or not systematic theology in its proper time and place had not been a useful tool. The unfortunate part is even though our world is growing, changing, and adapting. Even though our understanding of how to come to scripture is changing there is still this belief in equipping the next wave of “professionals” within the church that a solid understanding of systematic is the way to produce a vital ministry.

Systematic theology while useful, is not still useful in the context of the shrinking world into a global village, the information explosion, and the deeper understanding of what it means to be human. For it is within the revelation of the image of God/Christ, that we truly experience God. Within the wisdom theology that has been long suppressed, that it becomes evident that all is sacred and we need to become open in this process to living the sacred.

 

Reference

Canate, F. (2012) Interdisciplinary Method in Christian Theology? In search of a working             proposal retrieved from            https://ntsmoodle.com/mod/resource/view.php?inpopup=true&id=281 24   November 2012.

Strong, A.H. (1903). Systematic Theology: A Compendium designed for the use of           theological students retrieved from        https://ntsmoodle.com/mod/resource/view.php?inpopup=true&id=108 27             November 2012.

 


English: Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman...

English: Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church, 168 Hill Street, Southampton, . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Introduction

Since the Ascension of Jesus circa 30-34 CE in which afterwards the disciples answered the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 (Contemporary English Version):

16 Jesus’ eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus had told them to meet   him.17 They saw him and worshiped him, but some of them doubted.

                        18 Jesus came to them and said:

I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! 19 Go to the people of all nations and make   them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20 and             teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.

Each disciple brought their own flavour and understanding of the Cross to the disciple making policy. This has created a glut of divergent theologies throughout the history of the Christianities. From the pseudo-unity of the early church, that was held together by spit and bailing wire of the Ecumenical Councils that came undone with the Patriarch-Pope spat that culminated in 1054 CE with the mutual excommunications. From there the tree would continue to create new buds with the religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church, that then created whole new branches with the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s CE with Zwingli, Calvin, and Luther, eventually Henry VIII that then would continue with multiple denominational fractionizing that has brought us to the 1000’s of variances within practice that keep the church apart.

These micro-walls need to be overcome by the macro bridges of interdisciplinary theology. A theology that is ecumenical, that bridges across the small dissimilarities and unifies the Body of Christ within our similarities, which are far more plentiful than we wish to admit on a daily basis. Canate’s paper Interdisciplinary Method in Christian Theology? In search of a working proposal is an attempt to create these bridges and present an understanding of God that is not so much encyclopedic as it is living (p.3).

This paper will not only summarize Canate’s thoughts, but spend time unpacking if this proposal is workable or if there is another way to build an interdisciplinary theology for the church of the 21st Century.

Summary

Canate took a leap of faith in producing this proposal. As he aptly pointed out for 200 years and beyond the practice of theology was one of encyclopedic reference, unfortunately with the information explosion of the 21st century this way of practice has become impossible (3). The role of the proposal is to overcome the divisive glut of theology and to build into an ecumenical theology for the new millennium (Canate, 1). To continue to build upon what Biblical scholar Childs’ stipulates success in our ability to engage within an interdisciplinary dialogue (Canate, 3).

Canate grows from this into a discourse within the confines of Sola Scriptura, the standard of the Protestant Reformation and that this method should not only be identified within the scientific context (4). The definition of method is “with or in the way” (5), as a result then method is an action (6) and to broaden within theology there are two main methods: Structural (inherent complexity in the teleogical principal) and Hermeneutical (diversity of ways: cognitive & hermeneutical principals are interpreted by theologians) (10).

Canate takes a short detour of a meta-analysis of the history of western theology, before stepping out into the idea that for 17 centuries Christian Theology was done in the confines of systematic (dogmatic) theology (13) and it was not until the mid-18th Century Biblical Theology rose to prominence (13). It was this stylistic, Biblical Theology that centered on historicity by adopting the historical critical method of the Enlightenment as a critique of the systematic method (14).

From the history Canate moves to the proposal for interdisciplinary theology that is needed due to the historical process in which the science of theology has divided itself (16). The approach to the field is presented from a fundamental theological perspective (18) that lends itself to the Sola Scriptura. Within Sola Scriptura Canate presents three levels (20):

  1. Foundations: philosophy and disciplines of theology.
  2. Theory: biblical & systematic studies.
  3. Practice.

The main thrust being that Biblical & Systematic Theology need to realize that they are not only theoretical (Canate, 22), but also must be practically applicable within the life of the Body of Christ. Canate has crafted an intriguing proposal, but the question is does the proposal work?

Interpretation

Canate hit the nail on the head with the idea that the church theology is divisive. Canate lends this to the confessional and philosophical thinking of modern theologians (Canate, 2). Canate does on to define philosophical as transcendental, existential, empirical, and socio-phenomenological while confessional is the Roman Catholic and Protestant explanations of their faith (2). The nail was hit because this once more shows the modern practice of compartmentalization, instead of presenting the holistic form and the organic growth we have gone through we as a people like to say well this is philosophical, this is church, instead of realizing it all comes from the same source.

Which is the underlying and presented thesis of Canate, this divisiveness is not healthy or useful in this third millennium. In a world that is smaller and more connected than any time in human history, more specialized, and with more information available it is impossible for any one voice or person to be the final authority on all. God’s revelation needs to be grown to include all disciplines and understanding that have been given to humanity throughout history. It is through dialogue with one another that we can truly illuminate the stories of God with Her people, and His people with God. Through dialogue that we can see how the social sciences, sciences, and liberal arts speak into and throughout theology, not only that drawn out of the scriptures but into the scriptures.

This dialogue is then taken one step further, or needs to be taken one step further, for it is not only the academic disciplines in this day and age that need to be in conversation, but an acknowledgment of the individual circumstances and context of not only the time of the original story, but the time in which the story is being heard today.

The next step though is also to be prayerful, for it is the moving of the Holy Spirit within the discourse that will open up the will of God and the Truth to those gathered within the Body of Christ in this millennium. We tend to look back on the past and the ancient practices and say how simple they were, or they did not have this or that, but what they had was faithful hearing of the Spirit and this is what truly needs to be recaptured within the church.

As for Canate’s stance that it needs to be within the Sola Scritpura that this dialogue happens (4) is selling short the 1500 years before the Protestant Reformation for having anything to lend to the process. Acts 15 opens us up to the first Ecumenical Council held in Jerusalem to decide prayerfully what new converts to the way had to adhere to. This is a strong example that Sola Scriptura may not be the methodology to adhere to, for it is within the council that they practiced what Jesus practiced on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Not the letter of the Law, or the adherence to the commentary on the Law, but cutting to the spirit of the Law and what it truly meant for believers. This was done in healthy discourse by those anointed to the Apostolic Office

At first blush it appears as if the Ecumenical Council method is contrary to Sola Scriptura yet according to Canate brings in three levels (20):

  1. Foundations: philosophy and disciplines of theology.
  2. Theory: biblical & systematic studies.
  3. Practice.

Canate actually presents his own three legged stool for theological discourse. The stool holding to the idea of Tradition, Scripture, and Reason (with a fourth leg added recently for Experience) here there is somewhat of a parallel with Foundations which can be viewed as Tradition that which builds the bedrock the rest comes upon. Theory can parallel Reason, and practice culminates with experience. Scripture and Sola Scriptura becomes the seat that is held up by the other three legs.

Unwittingly Canate shapes a theory based from the last few centuries, referencing a point from the Protestant Reformation 600 years ago, which parallels a theory that has grown from the Ecumenical councils that can then be tied back to scripture itself from the Jerusalem Council of Acts of the Apostles chapter 15.

The core of the proposal being to answer the question being can there be an interdisciplinary method in Christian Theology? The answer is that we have always had an interdisciplinary method whether or not we have recognized it. The new question that arises is can we get back to our roots and grow an interdisciplinary method that can give the multiple Christianities a strong root system in our tree of life that is the Body of Christ within the world? If the Body is willing to heed to words of St. Paul around the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12 (New Living Translation): “12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” We are divided only because we choose not to recognize that one another’s language is saying the same thing.

Conclusion

Whether one titles it the three levels of Sola Scriptura or the Four Legged Stool or the Ecumenical Councils what arises is a confirmation that St. Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition):

          One Body with Many Members

                12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body,      though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized        into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

                14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say,       “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a       part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong         to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were       an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the       sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as   he chose. 19 If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are             many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor            again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the         body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the body which we         think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are        treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God            has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be       no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26      If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

                27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has            appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of         miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29            Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all     possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly             desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way

The essence of interdisciplinary theology is like the move of missiology to intercultural studies, no longer one does all know, but rather collaboratively we will work to discern the calling and Truth of God upon our lives. The move from encyclopedic to specialize becomes irrelevant because it is the Biblical concept that each of us has our role to play within the Body of Christ, and it is time we honoured that vocation.

By honouring the individual’s vocation within the community we are able to see the whole picture, come together and share in an open and honest dialogue. This being done prayerfully, allows the micro walls of denominationalisms to crumble within the Christianities, and macro bridges to be built. It allows for a truly catholic (universal) discourse of beliefs of followers of the Living Cosmic Christ.

These discourses can then move us from narrowed Christianities, to a truly inclusive Christendom, neigh better, Body of Christ to reach out to and transform the world. The first step is whether or not the Body of Christ in the here and now 21st Century is willing?

Reference

Canate, F. (2012) Interdisciplinary Method in Christian Theology? In search of a working             proposal retrieved from            https://ntsmoodle.com/mod/resource/view.php?inpopup=true&id=281 24   November 2012.


Worship is not just for praise and supplication of God‘s people in Anglicanism, but also the amain arena for our theology (Stevenson, p.187). This relationship is tachkled in the Latin phrase Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi which literally translated means “the law of praying is the law of belief” (Stevenson, p.187). What does this mean for the average pew setter who may not be aware of this concept? It means that while other churches have a confession or a Pope for final authority in theological matters, Anglicans are a beast all their own. This reflection will explore theology of Anglicans from what we are or, or are not, to the Prayer Book, to symbolism and finally, pragmatism. Within the relfection the good and bad will be explored on the Via Media of Anglican Theology where the law of praying is the law of belief or in the more mundane, from the symbol comes the thought.

Stevenson’s article on this topic found in The Study of Anglicanism was an excellent and loaded word primer on this very notion. A good flow in from the discussion previously on Reason, Tradition, and Scripture coupled with the Via Media and now exploring how theological though is formed as an Anglican standard.

The church as a whole is known for taking the middle road of Protestantism and Catholicism (or in ancient language, Popish). There is no deining theologian that is held to as a universal authority (like a Zwingli, Luther, or Calvin) or ultimate authority. If there were an Anglican theologian in the past to read, it would be Richard Hooker, yet he is not unversally held to as a standard. For the church it is the Book of Common Prayer where our theology is found, so one could say that it is Cramner who is our theologian, yet in the era of speciality he would be called a liturgist more than a theologian.

Does this mean as a church we seek out the lowest common denominators to appease everyone? No. That is a misinterpretation of our theological heritage, and just diving into the Prayer Book dispels that notion. It is a balancing act in history that made people tolerable yet some unhappy. Yet it brings about the idea of where certain parties in the Communion want to move the Anglican Church. Movements to move us to more of a confessional church that removes the backbone of what we are as a people, a people that take our theology from our prayer.

This idea of the Prayer book was both a field for Cramner of theological expression and experimentation (Stevenson, p. 189). It is a basis of the liturgy that it explores symbols that impact the people, and brings an understanding of God into their daily lives.

It is why services were deemed to be held in the language of the people with the priest and people reading from the same Prayer Book. Nothing hidden in the liturgy, the ability to experience theology right there. That is the ability to experience as a community and indvidual the Spirit of God. It is why the binding act for the Anglican Church worldwide is the Eucharist. Not exactly transubstantiation and yet more than just a rememberance it is something in between, one of the great mysteries of the faith. Yet one common cup bonds us all, in our diversity of theology and belief.

It is what would be lost to the church if we moved towards a confession or to one central authority…the ability to be universal in our belief in God, yet localized to a liturgy that impacts the walk and belief of the people in that location. For it is in the act of the liturgy that our theology comes alive in the community.

Now of course there is a down side to the way Anglicans do theology, because it can easily become rote. The Canadian church has been under a twenty-five year experiment with our Book of Alternative Services, not wanting to alter the Book of Common Prayer from the 1600’s. Yet is so doing we are negating the Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. The liturgy itself can become frozen in time and an untaouchable, which goes against the spirit of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith in regards to the liturgy as well as the theology experimentation Cramner began.

For if our theology is to stay fresh, and channelling God we not only need a liturgy that reflects where we have been and where are at, but experimenting with the possibilities of where God is calling us to be as His people.

The concept of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi also raises the question of church decoration. For you are laying out decorations for a worship service that will take in all a person’s senses and the use of symbols become powerful and important. It is not a symbol like one would choose to adorn a hockey jersey with but rather a symbol that reflects what the ministry of the church is.

It takes the symbol selection out of the hands of just one person and what impacts them, but rather to a whole community of people and what to them is the symbol of the faith. The localized worship of God within the universal bond of the Eucharist.

The final part to be touched upon is a rather simple statement Anglicans are pragmatic theologians. The pragmatism found in the Church of England is becuase the theology is relevant to the socio-cultural factors of the day. It touches the people where they are at and let’s them experience God there.

One major distinction within the more liturgical style service is that it is not necessarily seeker sensitive or geared towards a salvatory altar call as one will find in the more mainline Evangelical service (although there are strong evangelical Anglican churchs that probably do practice these). Rather the Eucharist (our Mass) is geared towards a servicing of the Saints. What is going to allow the saints of God to rest in Him and experience Him within Sunday morning worship so that they are equipped to live out the Great Commission Monday to Saturday within their school, workplace, community and nation?

It is a service designed to bring the Body of Christ to the foot of the Cross-at the altar rail each week around the world to share in the renewal that His Cup and Bread bring to us so that we may be filled with His Spirit, Love and Grace for another week.

It is in our prayer that our theology is formed, there are amazing things that can happen because of that, and amazing drawbacks, yet in the end if it equips the Body to answer God’s call to change this world, then so be it.


English: Anthony of Pedua with child Jesus

English: Anthony of Pedua with child Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bane's redesigned appearance in The New Batman...

Bane’s redesigned appearance in The New Batman Adventures episode, “Over The Edge”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some may use the term “intentional” or “missional” or “seeker” or “liberation” or “social gospel” or “Red Letter Christian” or any of the new catchy euphenisms for church being church that is out there today in response to the dichotomy of chasm that is the church today. That chasm being between what we term as the “Christian Right” & “Christian Left” or “Evangelical” & “Mainline” or “Fundamentalist” & “Progressive” or whatever two tags one wants to stick on the current theological chasm that breaks the body of Christ better than Batman across Bane‘s knee.

Yet I prefer a term that is nearly 800 Years old an except for a hiccup or two (those pesky inquisitions and colonizations where the order sold their souls out for temporal authority) has always caused a stir in the church, that being “Franciscan“. See as I continue this journey of sabbatical reflection I keep coming back to this core charism.

One of a gospel life lived out. One that brings into harmony my helping ways, my justice mindset, my constant prayer, a life of simplicity, and a desire to shine Christ brightly.  See for a Franciscan there is no one reformation or restoration, rather it is a calling to constantly be a refining force throughout time within the Cosmic Christ.

So why title this Franciscan Communities when I have earlier stated that I am no longer affiliated with any of the secular orders? Simple, because it is within reflection that I have come to realize that I am still affiliated with Franciscan communities. Those communities of believers that reach out into the darkness and provide hope, that serve and build community, pray with and for one another and simply live life together in simple ways.

One of these communities is our small house gathering the Rainbow Chapel, and the other is the church my family currently attends Cornerstone Christian Assembly/King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church.

I continue this journery of becoming a non-sectarian Franciscan, and within this journey I am discovering that which I have yearned for I may have simply over looked for the label affixed.


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know, I know, very few of the Christianities would like their “brand” reduced to nothing more than a twitter hashtag, yet let’s be honest, that is what in the new marketing schemata is what they are attempting to do.  What has been my brand allegiance in Canada thus far?

#RC #ELCIC #LBC #NOND #UCC #PCC #CMA #Restoration #Druid #Buddhist #ACC #TSSF #OEF #ULCM #ULC #AGC #Cursillo #Alpha #Shaman #CiM and I am sure there is a litany I have forgotten.

Recently in the midst of a cycle of questioning, and knowing a history within Protestant affiliations of spiritual abuse geared at my family I felt the call back to communion with the Roman Catholic Church. My soul mate and I started attending Mass, and I began prayerfully discerning where I was meant to be.  But it was a desire (albeit possibly a selfish one) to travel back into a time that was a blessing for my spiritual development.

Yet like the old proverb, you cannot step in the same river twice. So as I continue on this journey of making a non-sectarian Franciscan it has become evident that there is deep truth within this. There are many blessings within the Mass, liturgy, daily prayers, saints and social initiatives that is the living body of Christ out of Rome.  However, one of the greatest blessings for me is the piece of the body that is Franciscans.

It is within the heart of the rule of the Secular Franciscan Order that hit me upon reflection and discernment. Lay Franciscans are called to care for their families as the drive of their vocation.

Wow. Here I was constantly moving the family for what I thought was protecting them, but by not being able to grow deep roots it was leading to a shallow faith.  Do I regret any choices to leave churches with my family? No, because it was ultimately to protect them.  But I know that in this moment and time re-initiating a journey of catechism for all of us within #RC would not be conducive, my son and daughter partake with us currently in communion of the open table, and they would struggle with losing this piece of their faith experience for the time it took us to become full members.

Besides, currently we are nestled into a rather ecclectic church within our own community, a non-denominational charismatic church joined with a lutheran brethren congregation to share ministry and service to reach out to the community… truly a church moving beyond the hashtag to replace it with the hashtag that truly matters #4Jesusloves.

So are there many things I love within the history and tradition that is #RC? Yes. Has it been a blessing within my journey? Yes, and will continue to be.

BUT and this is the biggie for all believers (as I like to cast my net o’ weirdness wide): the “brand” is irrelevant. What it comes down to is simply the local body and whether or not it is living Christ, making disciples, and aiding discernment of vocation… if this is happening then the Body of Christ is present and the community and individual will be transformed (Salvation).

What’s in a denominational #hashtag?

 


Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia.

Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I stood sipping my cuppa Red Rose and talking with my roommate about our faith, the topics of what is discernment and discipleship came up. These are two of the major issues facing the Christianities for we like to throw the words out within the confines of believers but it is like speaking English in the Russian Parliament…meaning the same words may be flowing but totally different understanding.

What is discernment? It is the way a believer feels the calling of God on their lives for a life long vocation. Now note, for me, vocation remains the same throughout life (in the business world this is a personal mission or vision statement). While vocation remains the same, however the expression 0f vocation can be multiple ways. The challenge is that there appears to be an either or systematic, the Christianities as a whole need to get together and agree on one methodology. What does that mean? Simple, talking with friends back in the  day in Bible College so many were there because they felt called to be a pastor, yet only they had confirmed it; while in mainline churches alot of times the community will affirm a calling the individual does not feel because of talents they see in them.

The solution from my perspective is simple: A calling felt by an individual, who then requests a travelling group for a year or more to meet monthly for prayer, reflection, study and exploration of what the calling is and if it is truly from God.

But for this idea to work, it comes down to discipleship. We tend to run “educational programs” within out churches; or outreaches or whatever term you would like to insert. But what is truly needed is an understanding of discipleship. It is not just getting someone to the stage of saying in any magic formula that Jesus I want you…it is what it means to live a life within the love of God; daily asking to see the world with the eyes of God and moving forward.

A key point on this is the use of sacred scripture in discipleship. We like to use the way we read the Bible as a way to segregate believers, but this is such nonsense. Yes it may be a struggle for someone who reads it literally to sit in a bible study with someone who reads it as metaphor or allegory, yet if we can get past our own bias and actually listen to the other, enter into respectful dialogue with the other what happens is a deeper and broader understanding of the whole and we truly become the Body of Christ.

What are your thoughts dear reader?