I am having an interesting discussion about the uniqueness of Christ in the thread under my 'Until September...' post. This is why I blog. My blog makes me tackle the issues that I wrestle with.
On Monday my first task at selection conference will be to fill out a personal inventory with my gut reactions to certain situations; my responses to certain questions. I have no idea what will be on it but I just have this gut-feeling that there will be a question or two which will attempt to draw out my thinking about other faiths.
I was very interested in Peter Ould's coverage of the Synod debate in February on the issue of the uniqueness of Christ .
I want to be able to answer questions that best reflects how I feel. Page 184 of The Mystery of Salvation helps,
'...mission remains the central task of the Christian Church. The task is to proclaim by word and to display in action that God has created a world that is good, and that we are responsible for that creation; that the kingdom of God, the kingdom of justice and peace, has already begun in Christ, and that we can be assured of its future consummation through him; that the gift and assurance of salvation and eternal life is available now, and the mark of this life is love. We deny the fullness of that love if we deny the truth and goodness which Christ, as Logos, and God by the Spirit, can
also inspire in those of other faiths and of none. We believe that God has chosen to provide the fullest revelation of himself in Christ, and the fullest revelation of his love for all humanity in the cross and resurrection. Hence we naturally pray that God will bring all people, including those of other faiths, to explicit faith in Christ and membership of his Church. This is not because we believe that the God revealed in Christ is unable to save them without this, but because Christ is the truest and fullest expression of his love, and we long for them to share it. In the Lord’s words in St John’s Gospel, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10.10).'
...so it is good to talk and be challenged.
If there's one thing I have learned from blogging, it is how our words can misrepresent us. I am glad that I will meet my selectors in a real and not a virtual world. We do communicate body, mind and spirit and there is something often quite gnostic about our virtual dialoguing. I guess this is why we have invented emoticons, it is amasing how a ;) or a :-) can completely change the whole tone of an incoming email.
...so I think I know now what I will do with any half hour reading opportunities I might get over the weekend, is to flick again through 'The Mystery of Salvation' just so that I might be able to better express what I mean without all the circumlocutions.
When I went to meet the Bishop who has put his name to my application, it was good to share with him how there were certain things that I am careful about how I articulate. The doctrines that we hold to have a variety of outworkings in practice.
So I hold to the uniqueness of Christ as the only means to salvation, this does not mean that I do not think Christ is at work in the lives of Sihks or Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims.
I believe that God created us to be in marriages that are between a man and a woman but I would still be quite happy to accept the bread and the wine from Gene Robinson for the sacrament is not given in the minister's name but in Christ's and we are all unworthy but the effect of Christ's ordinance is not taken away by this, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished, the eucharist is effective because of Christ's institution and promise.
I believe in women's ministry and that the Bible witnesses to women in ministry and women teaching and preaching but I can understand how people can walk a different hermeneutical bridge and come to a different opinion.
This is why I am 'a happy under Rowan not Bob kind of Anglican'. I would not be able to join the FCA which launches at about the same time I will be filling out my personal inventory. They seem to be reacting against, I want to work with. They seem to be gathering around a declaration which makes claims with more certainty than I think we are perhaps able to; they seem to be doing a lot of stating and voicing and rallying when I would prefer to sit with Rowan Williams and listen and indaba. I love the via media, the middle way, the sitting on the white lines despite the fear of being hit by both lines of oncoming traffic. I like the parantheses and the explanatory asides. I like the caution and the choosing our words carefully, the listening process and the wiggle-room.
In essence, I believe in the infallibility of the message of Scripture and the infallibility of the Spirit's communication of that message but I hold closely to my own fallibility, that I will mess up and not pay enough attention to the Spirit's communication and so I lack a kind of confidence when it comes to expressing things emphatically. I will get it wrong because of my sinfulness so I am always prepared to be taught.
I am hoping that when I get to Heaven I will present myself like one of those very scribbly kids pictures, to which as a parent you ask what is it and then declare how wonderful it is. I am not saved by my doctrine, I am saved by Jesus' blood. He will love me in my attempts to get it so right when it actual fact all I was able to produce was a glorious mess.