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But I'm not sure it's the unity of the Church I love. It's the Lord whose Church it is I love.
I suppose the question is who is to depose an ungodly minister. As I read Article XXVI that is to happen through due process, and the rest of the article applies unless and until that happens. Is it really for the recipients of that ministry to reject it, or for a proper investigation to be carried out by a competent authority? The PEVs imply the latter, but I take the article to mean the former.
I'm sure you're right in identifying a spiritual unity among Christians, "for we were all baptised by one Spirit into one Body" (I Cor 12.13). However, the purpose of the unity for which Christ prayed was "...that they all be one, so the world will believe that you sent me. And the glory you gave me I give them so they will be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, so they will be completed into one, so the world will know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17.21-23) Clearly, this is a very deep, total kind of unity which goes far beyond the visible unity of the organised Church, but must include it if the purpose, as the proof of Christ's mission and God's love, is to be achieved among those who cannot be expected to judge beyond the visible level. The world is unspiritual, at least in the Christian sense of that word, and will judge by what it sees. We are weakening the view, to say the least, by our denominationalism. Personal fellowship is not enough to overcome that impression unless it is shown in a very public way.
I don't think I intended to imply all evangelism is negated by the current state of affairs. That is why I used the word "true" in my statement "Without ecumenism there can be no true evangelism, for without unity there can be no true Gospel." Yes, there is impaired evangelism, and the truth of the Gospel is being denied rather than negated, but that is because our unity (if we believe Jesus' teaching on prayer) is being denied rather than negated.
My intention there was not to claim ecumenism is the only thing the current Church should pursue, but to show those who think evangelism is more important why ecumenism matters as well.
Ken Petrie (editor)
Bristol, UK - Tuesday, 07 September 2004 at 17:37:44 (BST)
I have read your article on episcopal oversight etc with interest. You are a patient man, and obviously love the visible unity of the church.
1. Does article XXVI not only state that an evil minister's ministry is not somehow tainted by his wickedness, but also that his wickedness should lead to his being deposed?
What if congregations believe that a bishop has accepted unbiblical views, yet are not allowed to have that bishop deposed for the sake of unity (or for the sake of not being able to prove heresy or the such anymore)?
I see the bind that the PEV has brought on ecclesiology.
2. Is the unity in the Bible that we have in Christ always to be seen as a visible unity? Or do we have a spiritual unity by being united in Christ through the Spirit, through faith, through baptism etc. Should our concerns for unity be at the doctrinal level in so much as the areas which are clear from scriptures, and then we strive hard to not break that fellowship in the more visible level? Therefore although I may not do what a Baptist or Methodist does as far as church governance does, I will still consider that person as a brother/sister in Christ & not break fellowship?
If this is so, then it allows me to be out of fellowship with someone who rejects doctrines such as the physical resurrection of our Lord. Therefore I may find I have more unity with an independant charismatic Church or some churches within the seventh day adventist church (who now say we are saved by grace not grace and works) than with some of my fellow Anglicans.
3. On unity and evangelism. I have to disagree with your statement about no evangelism without ecumenism. It may be hindered, but not negated. Again it comes back to "what is the unity on view in the Scriptures in various passages?"
Sydney, NSW Australia - Thursday, 26 August 2004 at 00:18:20 (BST)
Why not something on Baptism?
- Thursday, 06 May 2004 at 21:20:26 (BST)
Well, what do people think?
Is this useful, or should it be in a different form?
Should I try covering other issues here?
I look forward to reading all your comments.
UK - Tuesday, 04 May 2004 at 14:34:19 (BST)