Saturday, April 28, 2007

The (First) Communiqué from the Primates

The (First) Communiqué

Reluctantly, I identify with my fellow confused and frustrated kindred in Christ as regards the Communiqué and our Presiding Bishop's response. At its best, Church life is the life of God and the liveliness of the Gospel. How far have we departed from these if we now find ourselves engaging less a relationship with the world around us and more a contest with those who purportedly are kindred in Christ?

None of this contest reflects the witness of those exemplars of human frailty and faith who stood up in the Hebrew context of the early Church and identified the Gentiles as "us." The Apostle Peter conferred with no one but his conscience and God before he welcomed formally, ceremonially, ritually into the life of Christ the Roman soldier and his family. The Apostle Paul conferred with no one but his conscience and God before he declared Christ risen not just for some, but for all. The evangelist Philip met with no one but God the Holy Spirit before he welcomed into fullness of Life the Ethiopian eunuch. One can only wonder what questions would have been raised, what recommendations to delay, to ponder, to meditate, to consult, to meet again later, would have been imposed had Philip acted more from prudence than from principle. James the brother of Jesus showed no hesitation, no lack of clarity, no inclination to appease those who disagreed, before he led the Church to identify officially the formerly sub-human Gentiles as fully fellow people of God. And now in our own day, I cannot help but notice that, since the release of the Communiqué, even among well-intenioned inclusivists our fellow Christians and fellow human beings who are gay are being referred to almost exclusively (!) in the third person. Perhaps deriving from its hostile context of origin, the language of the Communiqué is already putting distance between kindred joined in baptism.