Monday 18 January 2010

Liberal Theology and The-idiocy

A communicant Anglican cook the Unitarian service I attended on Sunday, and again the numbers are bumping up again after a troubling period of decline. It's amazing how things get sorted out, or a new purpose gets employed, and then an up curve does take place.

The Anglican we heard loves the swinging of the incense and such in the home church, but is frustrated at the lack of intellectual stimulation at home base. She likes the title of In Depth for the Anglican church in Barton's setting for intellectual stimulation, and might make approaches to set up such a small group where she lives. I said she can, of course, use (or reuse) any of the material now stored on my website that I have used in presentations. She has some sideways views: the Eucharist service, she said, "is basically Mithraism," which is an interesting thought. I know what she means but we can't reduce all sacrificial services from one locality to a single causal structure.

She further complains that sermons these days are so timid, and a lay reader who did connect was under such pressure that training ceased and there was no more from him.

I have two responses (and of course she gains intellectual stimulation by preaching to Unitarians, where pretty much anything ought to be able to be said): first, that much preaching, because it is hampered by 'promises' to some bishop, becomes something that stays in its own world view or becomes 'historically confined'. There might be an ethical message for the moment we live in, but the rest seems remote and removed. For example, the New Testament 'sign' of water into wine just read about is that of instant transformation, such as also reported of St. Paul, and thus the ritual of the Eucharist ought to have fermented wine, that is symbolic of transformation, though we all probably are inch at a time types when it comes to being on a journey of faith... All this makes sense, but what sense? It makes sense within a closed circle. What about, for example, how people live their lives: what examples are there of transformations? And if there are, what choices or impacts are there of these? Try the earthquake in Haiti, for example.

My 'intellectual presentations' to In Depth have charted examples of the failure of liberal theology in Anglicanism, not because liberal theology has failed, but simply because it is not allowed as fully legitimate, feels it so, and holds in on itself. When it has broken free thanks to some individuals, it comes against the impossibility of the structures to absorb it. To be fair, these structures have changed, and interpretations today (for example of the Trinity) that seem legitimate now would have been picked up in the past as unacceptable.

Today the situation seems to be in reverse. There is a sectarianism of the Anglican Church taking place. The borders are coming in. It is its reaction to pluralism and to the secular, to ordinary explanations that cut across its own.

A perfect example has been seen in the the-idiocy of comments about Haiti and its tragedy. It's the usual 'Why God doesn't intervene?' thing, or the keeping silence while God works out his purposes, and all that. Instead of building theology on the science of self-generating patterns and chaos, that such as the economy, plate tectonics, the weather and the environment are based upon, it is yet again a reworking of a pre-Newtonian interventionist nonsense, and one that encourages superstition.

Now we know why they hold to this nonsense, because at the heart of it is the belief that 'God sent his Son'. Well, until such a view is abandoned, as part of that pre-Newtonian (never mind contemporary) view, then the rest will always be a form of internal talk. And liberal theology as so often practised is as trapped as the more confused and even disgusting expressions of pity seen recently.

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