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Don't repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book . Here is what God really requires from the chosen people:
A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
A Way Forward and a Huge Missed Opportunity
By Louie Crew
A relatively small group of Christians has shocked the world by welcoming persons whose manner of life offends most Christians . Christian leaders confront those who have promulgated the innovation. They require the innovators to give an account of their actions. At the end of their confrontation, the Christian leaders issue a muddled report, the details of which most people will never remember. They offer a few harsh recommendations which few will hold definitive or binding, but the result is to open the door , albeit ever so niggardly, to those previously excluded.
I speak of the Council of Jerusalem, reported in Acts 15. I speak also of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, September 2007, reported on by the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. The first gathering dealt with whether to accept gentiles and not force them to be circumcised. The second gathering dealt with whether homosexual persons can be accepted, blessed and if elected, consecrated as bishops.
Acts 15 is far more readable than the report of the Joint Standing Committee :
[Note: I have used the NRSV in these calculations. Click here to accessthe report of the Joint Standing Committee ]
The original audience for Acts 15 could not have been very large. There were not very many Christians in the first century. Of course there is the larger audience who have read Acts 15 over the nearly 2,000 years since. However, I doubt that 1% of its readers now living can recall from un-refreshed memory the three conditions that the Council required. They really were not important. What was important is that the circumcision party yielded. Had it not, Christianity would have remained a tiny Jewish sect. Requiring circumcision of male converts was certainly not an effective form of evangelism.
The intended audience of the Joint Standing Committee’s report is the Anglican Consultative Council to whom they report. If their dense prose makes it possible for the Anglican Communion to move beyond the current debilitating sexuality debate, the Committee will have performed a major service to the world’s second largest Christian body. News genuinely good may again be spoken.
But the Joint Standing Committee and the Episcopal House of Bishops missed a major opportunity. Over 100 journalists were registered at the meeting in New Orleans, and thousands more were following it from afar. There is not enough money in the advertising budgets of all 38 provinces in the Communion to buy the time that the press gave freely to cover this occasion, and yet those two august groups spoke no clear and welcoming word to the world, whose attention they so rarely command.
How refreshing it would have been had the Committee reported: “We conclude that God still is no respecter of persons, that God loves absolutely everybody. All are welcome in the Anglican Communion!”
It remains the job of every Christian not only to proclaim that good news, but also to live it. In Christ there is no gay or straight, bond or free, male or female…. In Christ we are all one. Our assignment is to love the world, not condemn it, even as God, for Christ’s sake, loves us.
Newark deputy to General Convention of The Episcopal Church
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