Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Prophet with nothing to say to nobody who could hear!

Last year I attended the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, held in Halifax. I wrote three comments that I forwarded to our provincial Anglican publication, the Anglican Life. Only one was printed, so I have at long last decided to post the three here. I know that this is not entirely connected to the general theme of this Blog, so my apologies,as you allow these three postings. For your consideration.
Lord have mercy, Brian+

A Prophet with nothing to say to nobody who could hear!

During the Synod meetings in Halifax delegates became acquainted with a young man who stood outside of the Conference Hall. Each day we were greeted with his warm, kind face, though he wore a robe giving the appearance of a rather serious Biblical figure, and he held a large sign with an ominous message:

Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5.20-24)

Well, this was curious. Then unfolded what may have been an even more prophetic parable for our society. Two young lads around the age of 12 passed by holding their skateboards, and one stopped to observe the young prophet. He asked him what he was doing, standing there with a sign. The young prophet replied that he felt that he was called to stand there with a sign for the people of the meeting. The lad then asked what the sign said. To this the prophet replied that it would mean different things to the people coming out of the meeting. Puzzled, the lad rubbed the sign with his hand and asked what it meant to him. To this the prophet said, “A cat has gotten my tongue, I cannot say.”

I could hardly believe what had just transpired. This was a ‘play’ revealing the fundamental problem facing our society today – relativism. Now we might not be awake to the daily implications of relativism, but within the Church relativism destroys the witness of the Gospel and the purpose of the Church. Sounds ominous, but it is true. You see if the Gospel of Christ contains no content that can be communicated, and that nobody can understand what that message is then we are truly lost, both the messenger and the hearer. The plight of relativism is played out in those conversations when a person presents a fact, and the hearer responds with, “Whatever. That’s how you see it!” or “Whatever makes you happy.” In contrast to such relativism, St. John writes:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1.1-4 NKJV)

In our Anglican Church of Canada we are witnessing the ravages of relativism as we grapple with the many issues. Within relativism the only ‘truth’ that is valid is that of experience, even to the extreme of individual experience: there is no unity, no common voice, just appearances. We are left with nice religious language as we do nice justice things, which gives us nice feeling experiences. Let’s agree to disagree, but have a good time together anyway. Real truth need not apply, or be of concern. Sadly the lauding of good works was the main course at the General Synod in Halifax. And why not, after all, when we relativize the reality of Jesus and the witness of the Truth within the Church, we can only offer good works, good feelings. We have nothing to say to each other, or anybody else for that matter, about sacrificial holiness and bearing a cross unless it feels good. The young prophet reveals that we have nothing to say of real salvation.

I left General Synod wondering if the Anglican Church of Canada was able to say anything that meant anything. Sadly, the Sexuality Discernment Statement will be much like the Young Prophet’s sign: it will mean different things to different people, and nobody really knows what it says. After all, to agree to disagree, and to live with our differences of understanding is just another way of saying, “Whatever. That’s how you see it!” or “Whatever makes you happy.”

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