Wednesday, 15 April 2009
The Institutional Church and Orthodoxy
Recently I've been re-reading Hans Kung, "The Catholic Church". If you've not read it then it is a must! It's got me thinking about Church and what its role is. Now its very easy to sit in our protestant chairs and point fingers and the Pope in his chair, or at Roman Catholics in general but when we look at ourselves we are becoming the very thing that we denounced from the days of corruption. Of course, 'Roman Catholic' and 'Protestant' are very broad terms, an even in one denomination there is still reasonable variance but these together, this collection of misfits are what we call Church.
Some of you may have noticed, especially those who actually know me, that I have had a slight obsession in regards to Orthodoxy recently. What does it mean to be Orthodox? What happens if someone doesn't fit into that role? What should I do to respond to that? What should the Church do in response to it? Honestly, I've not got very far. If someone teaches someone false are they immediately deemed a heretic? Every time that I think I’ve sorted it someone (thankfully) throws something into the works.
There is a certain preacher who I disagree with quite seriously. I believe him to be rather sincere but all the same to be teaching heresy. So for a while if people asked me what I though of him I would tell them straight, "He is a heretic!" Someone pointed out to me the dispute between Peter and Paul(Galatians 2:11-21) which made me question when a false teaching becomes a heresy and when that person becomes a heratic. Was Peter a heretic before he was rebuked? Would be have been removed if he continued to disagree with Paul?
The reason I bring these up here (aside from wanting your opinions) is that I feel we too long have been afraid to question what the church teaches and look to what the Bible teaches. No I am definitely not saying that its one or the other. Usually they are the same thing and the church has a pivotal role in teaching the body but what when one sees something different in the Bible in terms of secondary issues? Views on Soteriology (Calvinism, Arminianism, Governmental view, etc), or Ecclesiology (Hierarchical, etc), or Ethics (Drinking, war, Euthanasia)? The churches general line over the ages has been to expel and when they could get away with it kill those who differ and squash underfoot anyone who feels like disagreeing to deter others from doing so. There are various examples. Famously Nestorius who claimed that we shouldn't call Mary the mother of God, but rather the mother of Jesus in case it causes confusion. The Church then claimed he was teaching what is now known as Nestorianism (Jesus and Christ as two different natures)as excommunicated him as a heratic. This is pretty well disputed now but I suppose its a case for making ones viewpoints clear. How about Ramihrdus of Cambrai, the first European 'heratic'? He refused to take Communion from corrupt Priests and was killed for his troubles. Then we have the famous case of Martin Luther who was only recently removed from the list of heretics by the RC church.
Before we get on our high horses again take a modern day example. Steve Chalke. He disagrees with Penal Substitution; in fact he called it cosmic child abuse. Now most evangelicals have shunned him as a heretic (although they may not use that word). He teaches Chritus Victor, a view held but many of the Early Church Fathers so why, even if we disagree with him have we shunned him so far over a view which is equally legitimate to hold?
I suppose what I am getting at is we need to be careful to judge on what God has said and is saying. Even if the Church teaches it as wrong is that what God says? We need to be careful that our actions, thoughts and beliefs are in-line with all that God is and not just who we are told he is.
Sorry if that was a rant. I may try and order that a little better later.
Till next time.