Saturday, July 18, 2009

A not so little light reading

Tim Chesterton and I disagree on an awful lot of things. We've even exchanged slightly heated words online regarding some of those disagreements. Our theological / ecclesiastical differences aren't even limted to the current "presenting issue."

Yet somewhere in all of that, we are able to be friends. Online friends, at least. I've never met Tim in the flesh, though I'd like to sometime. We are friends on Facebook and we link to each others blogs.

From my end, one of the reasons is that he is eminently reasonable, even when I think he's wrong. He is one of a small number of conservative (or at least conservative on some things) religious bloggers in my list of links. (In some respects, it is a mislabel to call Tim conservative. There are a handful of other issues where he is actually to the left of me. The "presenting issue" just isn't one of them.)

This post is a good illustration of why I find him to be so reasonable. He attempts to outline the current Anglican fault lines in a way that is fair to both sides. In general, I think he succeeds - though I think some of the commentators are right to challenge him on a couple of points.

He also makes one explicit comment that will doubtless earn him the condemnation of certain elements of the Anglican hard right:

(By the way, conservative and traditional Christians need to recognise this same motivation amongst some [not all] of those who are calling for the acceptance of gay marriage. They are proclaiming this message, not out of a desire to exclude traditional Christians from the church, or out of a desire to plunge headlong into licentiousness and sin, but out of a desire to live lives of faithful Christian discipleship in the situation they find themselves in).

We can disagree with one another's interpretation of the biblical and social science data, but there is no need for either side to bear false witness against their neighbour by imputing unworthy motives to the other, or accusing the other of preaching hatred or exclusion. When it comes right down to it, we're all trying to learn what it means to follow Jesus and crying out to God for the strength to put it into practice (transformation). Maybe it's time for all of us (myself included, mea culpa) to stop yelling at each other and have a bit of the meekness that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount. That way, maybe we'd be better able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth.

Anyway, please go read the whole thing - including the comments. It's worth the energy.


Alan said...


Erika Baker said...

Thank you for posting this. It's so important that we stop demonising each other.

Tim Chesterton said...

Thanks, mate!

MadPriest said...

This would be true if our personal beliefs on matters such as this were arrived at after objective theological enquiry. But I don't think it works like that for any of us. In stead, we arrive with our own cultural baggage and prejudices and then come up with the theology to excuse them.