9.11.10

Common grace and mission. God's church.

So there has been some reaction to my idea that God is at work in the world, which is what I am trying to articulate.

I wrote a recent essay, reflecting on my experiences in working with secular organisations, over the summer, that whilst people might not proclaim the faith, they do exhibit the behaviours of a compassionate God by his common grace and 'do something that promotes the agenda of [God],...and magnify the emphasis on God’s sovereignty and grace.' (Spina, The Faith of the Outsider, 10).


I can not help but think that God is at work in the lives of those who do not acknowledge him, after all he loved us before the foundation of the world, long before we ever knew to love him in return. If we are going to reach people in mission, if God is going to reach people in mission, is it really that we are to begin with the utter depravity that exists in humanity (Calvinism?)? I am trying to think about 'point of contact' theory. Barth knows that we have to acknowledge our own sinfulness and Schleiermacher, for all his heresies, acknowledge too our utter dependence on God and repentance and turning to Christ is at the heart of our 'coming home', but common grace is evident surely in this world?

Am I perhaps simply discovering (as if I didn't already know) that they are never going to make a Calvinist out of me?

Does this mean I am more of an Arminian?


(http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/12/12-3/12-3-pp143-149_JETS.pdf)

Is prevenient grace what I am looking at?

Today at St John's we were looking at Newbigin and his ideas of the prevenience of the Spirit, some of us were prompted to say (emm,me) "Yes, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches", for it seems to be saying women should be ordained and consecrated.

Tim is helpful on the slight clanger I made sweeping nuance and particularity aside to say that society has recognised women's leading and perhaps speaks prophetically to the church. Tim points out that society too has also crushed women in their leading, in the days of the early church

Here's Tim Goodbody in full:

"...it is playing into the hands of those like him (+Edward) (see comments here) to say things like "society got there first", especially since scripture and the early church testify to women in leadership, a situation which was (short version) squashed with the advent of the Christian Empire post Constantine. Arguably then society is responsible for the erosion of the role of women in Christian leadership. A liberal approach would say that "society got there first" and is a good reason to admit women to all 3 orders, but that is firstly to ignore plenty of Biblical material affirming women's Christian leadership and secondly to mistake leadership per se as being the same thing as Christian leadership."


I have always made my case from scripture but I am also learning that the world can be in receipt of God's grace and demonstrate it, (if we believe in God's prevenient grace working in the world), (if I am correctly understanding what prevenient grace and common grace are). I have been experimenting with my thinking lately, trying to see where God is at work beyond the church, in the church 'invisible'.

Contemporary Anglican communion.
Is the church ready to see what God might be doing, in his transforming his church by liberating women into leadership roles? We have just lost 5 PEVs. Do they think that they are leaving a disobedient church who is not listening to the Spirit? Or in the consecration and the ordination of women, is the Spirit going ahead and the church catching up, as John Taylor would seem to advocate in the 'Go-between God'. We are being led into the truths that have always been there in scripture by the Spirit. Scripture and Spirit can never be posited against one another - this would be very dodgy pneumatology.

A prevenient Spirit?
Prevenient grace?
God's common grace?

Calvinism? Arminianism? Hermeneutics? God's people? His plan for his Church?

Oh well, there's a few rambling reactions and thoughts for you.

All going on in one way or another here too

2 comments:

Curate Karen said...

I'm of the Armenian persuasion. Armenianism rocks!

David Ould said...

Thanks for this Rachel. I think I have a couple of questions I need to ask in order to push the conversation along.

What do you mean exactly by "common grace"?
What do you mean exactly by "prevenient grace"?
What Biblical description of this "grace" do you actually see?
How do you respond to the point I made in your last post on this subject about how the Scriptures appear to describe the pagan?

I think those are questions I want to ask you to explore exactly what you're saying and, if I might, encourage you to re-examine your developing position.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.