Friday, February 13, 2009

C of E votes 283 to 8 to Affirm Uniqueness of Christ

The General Synod of the Church of England is not in doubt about the uniqueness of Christ. They voted this week 283 to 8 with 10 abstentions for the following amended motion (amendment in italics):
That this Synod warmly welcome Dr Martin Davie’s background paper ‘The witness of Scripture, the Fathers and the historic formularies to the uniqueness of Christ’ attached to GS Misc 905B and request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.
[approved amendment in italics]

The original motion was by Paul Eddy, a lay member, and the amendment, which was welcomed by Paul Eddy, was proposed by the Rev'd Chris Strain.

The Rev'd Peter Ould has a blow by blow of the discussion and vote here. Ruth Gledhill has a post on her blog that does not provide the specific vote tally and presents the motion in what seemed to me to be a negative light.

Gledhill has recently addressed a seminar in Oxford last week at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism on 'Muslims in the Media', and it appears to be her concern for the implications this motion may have on Muslims that has motivated her reporting. She noted near the op that "For Muslims, to convert to another religion is condemned as apostasy." She does not include, but certainly knows, that the punishment for apostasy from Islam is death.

In the first two sentences Gledhill gets in that the motion could "jeopardise carefully built-up relations with Muslims, Jews and other faiths," and that "one bishop condemn[ed] in anger the 'evangelistic rants'", and in the fourth paragraph characterized the motion as forcing the bishops, implying this is something that the bishops would not willingly do.

Further down she cites one of the opponents of the motion:
However, the Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, who leads the Church’s mission in urban life, told The Times that he was “saddened” by the debate.

Condemning the “evangelistic rants” of some members, he said: “There are one or two contributions that worried me because they did not seem to have any understanding of the nature of relationship that precedes good evangelism.” He added: “There’s an element of people who have not got experience of living and spreading the gospel in a multicultural, multifaith context telling those who do have that experience how to do it. That makes me very uneasy.”

Uhh, the motion asks the bishops to "offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none," so instead of condemning people, why doesn't the leader of "the Church’s mission in urban life" welcome the motion as an opportunity to do just that?


Dr.D said...

For Christian bishops, sworn to uphold the faith once delivered to the saints, I am simply baffled how there can be any nays or abstentions, no matter the fact that they live in a multifaith society or a single faith society. They should have never accepted their sees if they cannot support such a simple statement as this.

Perpetua said...

Hi Dr. D,
And the actual language of the motion is that the Synod "request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain's multi-faith society ..." So it isn't "forcing". And, like you, I would have thought that Christian bishops would view this as a reasonable request.

It is particularly disturbing that one of the bishops who objects, the Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, is particularly tasked to do work in multi-faith communities.

Dr.D said...

Jesus Christ is unique in all creation, and that even includes Britain's multifaith society. Those doubting and uncertain bishops should hang up their miters and turn in their crosiers. They are simply unfaithful to their positions as successors to the Apostles.

now said...

Personally, I don't think faith has anything to do with intellectually ascribing to ideas about Jesus. It is a waste of time to discuss the uniqueness of Jesus with non-Christians because talk of Jesus is an in-house matter. To believe in Jesus is to participate with a community of people who are agreeing to a joint imaging of a myth. This imaging creates a lived experience for the participators. It is senseless to discuss the uniqueness of the mythic experience with people who aren't imaging the myth.

It's a lot like participating in a role-playing game where someone is a wizard, another a dwarf, another an elf, etc...Together they participate in a story, where they interact with each other and face obstacles (dragons, spells, and various misfortunes). While they are playing, the experience they create together is lively and real in it's own right. It wouldn't make any sense for one of them to try to claim that one of the wizards is unique among all wizards when talking to people who weren't involved in their particular role-playing game.

Perpetua said...

Hi now,
Well, it will be interesting if any of the English bishops present an understanding similar to yours in their report back to the Synod.