Friday, October 31, 2003


Many church websites are almost as dire as their noticeboards. A happy exception is that of St Peter with All Saints, Nottingham. This includes a Claves Regni newsletter page, which contains articles and thought pieces. I was particularly struck by Andrew Deuchar's sermon on "Facing Up To Division In Faith", based around Romans 14. 1-17. The full text is here. Deuchar formerly worked for Archbishop George Carey, but his own thinking on this subject is rather more capacious, as this extract indicates:

"For a long time we have been content to walk together through the darkness and the light. It has been uncomfortable and untidy - perhaps even at times apparently incoherent. But it has not been wrong. Until recently we have rejoiced in our diversity. We have recognised, as my former boss used to say quite regularly, that we are still becoming a communion, and therefore we are in the realms of provisionality. We believe that we belong together, we want to learn from one another, and we resist either a pulling apart into independence or a chaining together under some centralised authority. We have been willing to take risks in our search for the truth of Christ.

"Risk-taking calls for humility, a readiness to listen and learn, to embrace disagreement and debate. But today, seduced by the opportunity for renewed power in the world, we are being drawn away from faith towards the arrogance of certainty, and the demand for compliance with a set of values and beliefs that are being arbitrarily drawn up according to a particular way of interpreting scripture. And with the arrogance of certainty goes the death of mystery, and with the death of mystery goes the possibility that God can work change in us.

If we are to begin to face the mystery of God - a mystery which can encompass the vastness of the universes, the depths of wickedness, the burning intimacies and promises of love and persons, then we must share in the risks of God - risks which include the possibilities of suffering, sin, and getting things wrong. The power of love is not having everything cut and dried, with reserve force to push the divine plan through. Such power could leave no room for the freedom which true love requires.

"So wrote Bishop David Jenkins, a prophetic voice of our times whose words seem to become more and more perceptive as the years have passed."

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