An apology

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by Lowly Layman, May 17, 2023.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Hello all,

    I've been stopping by less and less over the last couple of years but I hope you'll indulge me a bit in this post.

    This has long been a place where I felt comfortable grappling with many of the issues I encountered in my life of Faith in Christ. Over the past decade, many of the kind members on this site have given great advice, a listening ear, and a swift kick in the rear on occasion, all of which have been needed and, in retrospect, not appreciated nearly enough.

    I've been reading through some of my past posts and cringing at the borishness and ignorance of them in most cases. I realize that I really am no longer the man I was when I first joined the Forums.

    Things that seemed to matter so much at the time no longer seem to matter at all.

    Since the Pandemic, my thoughts and opinions, including my thoughts and opinions on the nature of God and my faith, have significantly evolved and continue to do so. I no longer agree with my former stances on the immorality of homosexuality, the invalidity of women's ordination, or the literal interpretation of scripture.

    However, I still stand firm in the understanding the God is Love and I have the new insight that we honor God most when we practice radically inclusive love, compassion, and forgiveness for others and for ourselves.

    More to the point, as I read through my posts, I discerned an unseemly willingness in myself to weaponize and politicize the doctrines of the faith to push my personal worldview, agenda, and prejudices. The fact is, God is God and I am not. And I admit that I was all too willing to believe that God and Christianity just happened by lucky coincidence to affirm all my unexamined personal positions on any given topic and condemn all those who disagree with me.

    I am coming to appreciate that all people deserve to love and be loved in the way that they resonate with; that consenting adults should be able to choose to live their lives in truth and integrity without fear of judgment from people who claim to speak for Christ; that women have a powerful ministry and witness to share in the priesthood; that God's love and revelation for today are not confined in the literalist interpretations of proof texts written between 2000 to 5000 years ago; that the Spirit is active even now and is doing a new thing to bring justice and healing to the world that may not fit our preconceived notions of propriety; and that we are each of us called to seek meaning in and communion with God in a free and responsible way, questioning and rejecting any message, no matter its source, that creates barriers rather than building bridges, lifting people up, and working for justice, freedom, and peace in the world.

    While I respect that many on here may have different views, I think it is important for me to "come clean" and say that my previous posts are just "so much straw" in light of the new perspective that I believe God has saw fit to give me. I deeply regret statements I made that I now see to have been intolerant, misogynistic, self-righteous, and in some cases hateful. If I have ever offended anyone here or have caused pain, I am truly sorry. Please know that I am learning and trying to do better.

    God is Love, that's the meat and potatoes of it all. Everything else is just gravy.

    Thanks so much for taking time to read this. God's blessings to you!
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2023
  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I know you said this out of love, but I’ll say my piece out of fraternal correction

    You and I’ve we’ve interacted there on the Forums for many years - To me, seeing what you said there is very sad.. You were an orthodox guy staying in the Episcopal Church to convert them; in the end they ended up converting you

    this is a cautionary tale, that you can’t stay associate with a foreign body for too long; one will have to give, and it’s usually you, because they are many and you are one

    I will pray for your soul to find again the rock of orthodoxy before its too late
     
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  3. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    This is highly offensive, and wrong. “We” are canonical Anglicans who recite the Creeds twice a day and once more on Sunday, and we do not need to be “converted.”
     
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Frankly, I have generally admired you as being well thought out, balanced and reasoned, and faithful. I really feel you have been a bit harsh on yourself here, perhaps a little hyper-critical. The journey has taught me that grace is not all that useful unless you can be a bit gracious about it. Grace, and living as children of grace, believing that grace has meaning and purpose are central.

    This week I have been looking at the Acts 17 account of Paul before the Aereopagus, and it seems to me that passage shows us a lot about Paul's approach, and it really struck me that it is not an arid approach, but a highly engaged approach to the community who he was amongst.

    I value you as part of this forum and as a fellow member of the Body of Christ.

    Peace and Blessing.
     
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  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I second Botolph’s sentiments. What you’re experiencing is normal moral growth. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re a valued part of the Forum.
     
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think what @anglican74 is trying to say is, @Lowly Layman has departed from certain beliefs that were marks of traditional Christianity and the historical church for nearly two millennia.

    The word "convert" was probably meant not in the sense of converting to Christianity from something else, but of changing people's minds and bringing them around to the more traditional set of corollary beliefs. Since traditional Christian beliefs about salvation, judgment, and sexuality are often referred to as "orthodox" beliefs, I think that word was used rather more loosely than the way @Invictus has taken it.

    I too would note that listening repeatedly to erroneous ideas often leads to the embracing of those ideas, from sheer force of repetition: Garbage In, Garbage Out. The emphasis on "God is love" as the only "meat and potatoes" of Christian faith seems to, in my opinion, utterly disregard about one-half of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The Summary of the Law, the Kyrie, the Trisagion, the Confession of Sin, and the Prayer of Humble Access all emphasize the fact that God is holy and just whereas we are sinners who would be utterly lost without repentance (both sorrow and turning away from sin). The Nicene Creed, a key "meat-and-potatoes" statement of our doctrine, does not even one time mention "love".
     
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  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries, (and believe every word of the Nicene Creed and all others of necessity), and have all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

    There are plenty of those who adhere faithfully to the traditions of men over two millennia, who think that by so doing they fulfil the requirements of faith in Jesus Christ and his teaching that make them true disciples of their master, but have failed in the most essential aspect of that discipleship. That of surrendering themselves entirely to the principle of loving God and one's neighbour, over the mere adhering to tradition. This is a case of straining out gnats in your beer but swallowing camels whole.

    The Nicene creed has no need to mention the word love for it to be an essential factor and necessary requirement of the Christian faith. The Nicene Creed only exists as a refutation of certain heresies, not to encapsulate a definitive list of things we must do or believe in order to be considered by others in the faith to be a REAL or 'orthodox', Christian believer. Orthodoxy itself is merely a bulwark against heresies and a Female priesthood is NOT a heresy according to the Nicene Creed, even though it may be an innovation. The Holy Spirit, through the Christian faith, has brought in many innovations in the church during the two millennia since it was established by Christ.
    .
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2023
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  8. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Not sure if you meant to agree with me, but thanks for the supporting thoughts. :thumbsup: Pointing out that we are to love God and love our neighbor is great, and it reveals the mistake underlying the concept that "God is Love... Everything else is just gravy." If we have no love for God, and if we do not love others, has the love of God truly permeated our hearts (are we born again)? Our love will inevitably show forth in how we live and speak, and that is "meat and potatoes" too.
     
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  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Quite so!

    Some say faith is pie in the sky when you die, but in fact, if done properly, faith placed in Jesus Christ can mean meat on your plate while you wait. :)
    .
     
  10. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    Gosh Tiffy you're a poet and you didn't know it. You talk in rhyme all the time. I'll say that was hard to do wouldn't you.
     
  11. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

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    Ahoy Lowly Layman,

    We may have never formally met but I have found your input over the years on this forum very insightful, even bookmarking much of the resources you have candidly shared for reference.
    What you are personally describing in your ordeal is Role Reversal, the most profound change one can experience. What you once considered of something, someone or others, especially yourself, to not be what it seems, you have changed your attitude and worldview through the challenge of moral impetus.
    Do not stop being who you are and always remember that true, unconditional Love never favors one over 'the other.' Let the Lord's light transform your heart inside and out so that the Holy Spirit may flourish throughout. If this is your last goodbye before departing, I just want to say thank you and God bless.

    twin
     
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  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I sincerely hope @Lowly Layman will have another role reversal in his lifetime.

    Our rector and deacon returned from the ADLW diocesan synod and gave a report during today's Sunday School time following the Eucharistic service. Among other things, they told about an Anglican priest from Japan (yes, there are some Anglicans in Japan) who attended our synod. He was kicked out of his own diocese. What was this priest's horrific offense? He declined to address people by their "preferred pronouns" when those pronouns conflicted with their birth gender. Our diocese has picked up his credentials and is sending him back to Japan with our love and support. Another priest of TEC in Alaska was in attendance; TEC booted him for something similar, so we picked him up also and will put him to work.

    What is obvious from these two instances is this: while certain parts of the global church (the body of Christ) continue along the same path the church has been on for centuries--that is, a path of adherence to long-understood Biblical truth and of service ("salt and light") for our Lord-- a portion of the church has veered off that path and instead follows a broad highway of lip service to some Bible truths which the church has long understood and a smooth road of compromise with modern secular values. This latter portion of the church does not appreciate correction, and in fact it likes to castigate the former for being "un-loving". These modernists go so far as to insist that their counterparts need to adjust their thinking and become more accepting toward the new sexuality and the new way of reading the Bible. They insist, to the point of kicking out any who disagree. (How loving is that?) The modernists are the ones who brought this fight over sexuality and Bible teaching; they brought it on with a "my way or the highway" attitude (how many parishes were punished with loss of their buildings because they would not go along with the modernists' revisions?). "You are wrong," they say, "and you need to learn to agree with us!" even though they are the ones who have "turned left" instead of "going straight". How can they accuse other Christians of being un-loving when they themselves demonstrate lack of love, obstinancy, and combativeness toward those other Christians?

    Another tidbit... our rector mentioned how wonderful the spiritual atmosphere of unity and harmony is at our ADLW synods. He recalled how different it is from the synods he attended when he was in TEC; they were full of rancor, contention, and stress. He hated going to them. One had to be careful who one sat next to at those old synods, he said.

    We Christians who hold to a traditional understanding of sexuality, marriage, and Bible interpretation (which includes about 80% of Anglicans worldwide) are still in the same spot as always, right where you modernist types (the very vocal and provocative 20%) left us. We haven't moved. We aren't going to be moved. We hope you come back. But God calls whom He calls; all we can do is wait, pray, and hope.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
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  13. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Nippon Sei Ko Kai

    The post concerns me a little. We don't know anything about the whole story, and whilst the epithet you have provided may seem simple, a clear read of the report says to me that there must be something else going on as well.

    That said, you would be aware that I am not a fan of authoritarian governance in the church, and it is certainly not the example set in Acts 15. And I say that regarding Church Leaders wherever they sit in this great spectrum. There is far too much speaking or speaking the truth in love, however, it is not always in evidence.

    I am glad your Synod was convivial. Any Study of Church Councils will alert you to the fact that there is often tension in matters that worry us. The struggle of the Anglican Church is that we have since the time of the Elizabethan Settlement been a Church that accommodates disagreement. We have nudged and pushed and struggled along always mindful that our unity in diversity is both a great strength and our Achilles heel.

    All you are really saying in the final paragraph is we will not listen, we will not hear, because we own the truth. This is indeed no better than what you accuse those you refer to as modernists and revisionists.

    My hope for @Lowly Layman is that he will continue to shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father.
     
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  14. Annie Grace

    Annie Grace Well-Known Member

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    The main reason I switched from the RCC to the Anglican one was because of this accommodation of disagreement. When the Anglican Church becomes as dogmatic as the RCC, I will be out of here too. I agree to disagree with anyone in the Anglican Communion, but I refuse to give up my own interpretation of scripture or to become a 'party-line' member of an organisation that doesn't allow diversity. I think you have put it very well here @Botolph because this is both a great strength and a weakness.

    “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
     
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  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Are you suggesting that the historic church does not occupy the high ground? Are you implying that, for centuries upon centuries, the church fathers 'got it wrong' on issues of marriage and sexuality? Because where we (80% of Anglicans) now are is where the church has always been on these issues. The others, the ones who have taken a new position, are like wayward sheep who've wandered astray in a dangerous direction.

    Yes, of course we stand upon the truth as the Bible states it and upon the solid Rock, Jesus Christ. That nice superhighway traveled by the godless secularists, the one which the modernists now also travel, is built upon the shifting sands of culturalism.
     
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  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Then can you get into the diocese of Sydney? Because the modernists brook no disagreement.

    It is not a question of accepting or opposing diversity. For us, it is a question of accepting or opposing evil. The Bible calls upon Christians to hate sin and to oppose wrongdoing. Christians cannot in good conscience stand by and stay silent when some churches misrepresent the teachings of Christ or of the Bible, and thereby imperil souls. If we love, we must call out sin for what it is (sin) so people will not be misled into thinking that their sinful acts are righteous ones. We have a responsibility before God to not be silent. Look, here is an extreme illustration: if a group of churches began teaching that rape is normal, natural, and not sinful, wouldn't you cheer when the other churches try to counsel them against such wrongness? If that small group of wayward churches accused all the other churches of being unloving, intolerant, and hateful toward rapists, wouldn't you lift your voice in self-defense and in protest? That is the sort of attack a minority of Anglicans is inflicting upon the great majority over the issues of sexuality and marriage. For nearly 2,000 years the church has known without a shadow of a doubt that homosexual intimate physical relations are sinful and that marriage is only between a man and a woman; we of the long-held Christian understanding on these issues are being attacked for our unwillingness to compromise our faith principles; do you think that is "loving" and "tolerant" behavior by the minority?

    As I said earlier, we who follow the historical church and Bible teachings on these subjects did not start this fight. It was (and is being) forced upon us, bit by bit, continually. In all good conscience, we cannot compromise our faith or our principles; why do you and others like you look down on us for refusing to give in to sin? You say you refuse to give up your own interpretation of scripture; why aren't you upset when we are castigated for our refusal to give up the interpretation taught to us by the church throughout the centuries?
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2023
  17. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    You are speaking of something of which you appear to know little. The Diocese of Sydney is largely ecclesiastically monochrome and does not deal well with those who take a different view. I don't say that disparagingly, the Archbishop of Sydney is our Metropolitan, he has clear views on a range of issues and clearly holds views on a number of subjects different to the Bishop of the Diocese where I reside. I live something like 800 km (500 miles) from the nearest ACNA parish in Australia. Any consideration of Australia needs to factor in the tyranny of distance.

    You have used this figure a couple of times and I am not sure how you base it. There are as I understand it 85,000,000 Anglicans worldwide. At the same time, I understand that there may be around 40,000,000 members of Gafcon Churches, which is more like 45%.

    I don't particularly want to engage with the post, largely because in keeping with much of contemporary political debate it is essentially derisive and divisive and I find it less than helpful.

    The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

    It seems to me this lust for purity of doctrine, absolute correctness, and true church, gives rise to exactly the kind of approach to religion that Jesus came to deliver us from. Obviously, there are a number of things to contemplate here.

    Where was the man? Probably not relevant as the consideration was that the woman commited adultery agaist her husband, and the man however owed nothing to the husband.

    Why did they bring her before Jesus? Nnot because they wanted to stone her, they could have done that anyway, but rather because Jesus had challenged their thought forms.

    What did Jesus write in the dust? Well I guess we would all wonder about that. Perhaps the more challenging question is what would you write in the dust in that situation?

    Did Jesus condemn her? Clearly not, and indeed very clearly not.

    Did Jesus Commend Adultery? Again, Clearly not, and it is in this we find the straining tension that confronts us today.​

    So we are ambassadors for Christ since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    One of the things I often find difficult is our role as an ambassador for Christ. One thing however that I am certain of, and that is that Paul did not say we are God's bouncers! I consider myself neither a revisionist nor a modernist, and frankly, those labels are largely unhelpful. But I do know this, whilst I may struggle to know how to fulfil this role, I am certainly not in a place to know affirmatively how others should fulfil that role. What I require in grace, and in the main I need to be gracious about it.
     
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  18. Annie Grace

    Annie Grace Well-Known Member

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    @Botolph you echo so many of my sentiments. @Rexlion I know nothing much about the Anglicans in Sydney except that I have heard they are fairly conservative. My own Diocese would probably be considered liberal as it ordains and appoints female priests as a matter of routine. We would have so many rural and regional churches without priests if we didn't have female ones!

    As for the whole same-sex debate, I am of the mind-set that it really isn't my business who sleeps with whom, whether it be a same-sex situation or one of adultery etc. Consenting adults are responsible for their own choices and consequences.

    What I find particularly difficult to deal with are those who feel a right to judge and condemn others for their choices in this life. All actions have consquences, whether in this life or the next, and since none of us are God or his representative on earth, I see no reason for any of us to get involved with the personal lives of others.

    My exception to this would be if a person were committing an act of violence or assault against a child or other vulnerable person. To me, that would require condemnation and action to protect the vulnerable against a predator.

    I think @Botolph 's quote from Jesus about those without sin casting the first stone should be engraved on our hearts. None of us are without sin.
     
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  19. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You missed a big one. Did Jesus condone her actions? No, clearly not; He identified adultery as a sin and told her to stop sinning. (Yes, Jesus qualified as a "bouncer" by your own words.)

    Why do you have such a big problem with Christians who identify sin as sin and say it isn't right for the church to condone sin?

    As for the numbers, our rector estimates that 80%-85% of Anglicans worldwide are of the traditionalist mindset and do not support the re-defining of marriage, condoning of homosexual behavior, etc. Many of the above are still a part of groups like TEC or CofE (they haven't left for one reason or another), so of course they aren't in GAFCON.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2023
  20. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Clearly, you did not read my post where I said:
    Jesus did not act as a bouncer. Perhaps it is too long since you went to a venue with a bouncer to know what their role is.

    I don't have a problem with Christians who identify sin and call it out. What I have a problem with is Christians who are so hung up on sin that they fail to see the person, that they fail to see the virtue, and fail to apprehend the image and likeness that they bear. I believe we are called to be gatherers in far more than we are called to be out casters.

    I think your rector's estimate is largely anecdotal. The Survey of church-going folk in Australia around the time of the marriage equality voluntary plebiscite showed very similar numbers of Anglicans to the national result, and that included the Diocese of Sydney. The national result was on a turnout of 61% a result of 62% in favour. The then Archbishop of Sydney had invested $1M in the no campaign from Diocesan trust money, so the leadership did not get the result they were looking for. I suspect if you hang out with conservative Anglicans you might get the feeling that is the near-universal position, however, at least in the Australian context, those views may not hold the same sway.

    I don't think it is an accurate presentation of the Gospel to suggest that Jesus died for the salvation of straight people only.

    I actually believe that Jesus died to save sinners, and that list, thankfully and hopefully, includes me and you.