Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Checkpoint

I thought it would be worth stopping briefly before term starts and making a note of where I'm at with regards to various controversial issues in the Christian world.

Labelling: I don't like it, because labels tend to aid division rather than unity and because "insiders" and "outsiders" usually use the same label to mean different things. If I have to use labels other than "Christian", I tend to go for moderate conservative evangelical Anglican, which is sufficiently long that it gives people an idea of where I'm at without necessarily referring to a clearly defined group. I am aware that there are moderate charismatics and "open evangelicals" with whom I would agree almost 100%.

Uniqueness of Christ: Absolutely. He is both perfectly God and perfectly man; salvation is found only in him, and only through his life, death, resurrection and ascension.

Scripture and Revelation: Scripture is perfect, authoritative. My view comes very close to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I don't think there is subsequent revelation with the same authority, but I don't see that necessarily means there is no further revelation, but that further revelation is not binding in the same sense and would need to be tested against Scripture.

Ordination of women: I think by the time someone asks the question, they've already missed the point. In the Bible, the nearest equivalent to ordination is functional rather than ontological - it is ordination for a specific purpose rather than for being able to put Rev in front of your name. People were chosen as leaders of specific churches rather than just flying "church leaders" (with the exceptions of apostles, but the ordained ministry in the C of E is functionally much closer to the pastor / teacher / church leader than that of the apostle). The way the C of E sees ordination is generally at least partly ontological. Given that we've got this ontological status thingy, that women are clearly meant to be doing at least some of the jobs it covers and that the NT doesn't really address the question, I don't see any reason why women shouldn't be ordained. It could be argued that in Acts, Priscilla and Aquilla seem to act like an ordained couple would today; I think there's useful scope in that idea.

Women leading churches: This is closer to the real question on whether there is a gender-based difference as regards ideal roles within the church. To be honest, I'm not sure. I don't think either side's Biblical arguments are particularly persuasive; my instinct is therefore that we should treat it as an issue of conscience. I certainly don't see arguments for men refusing to submit to women who are in a position of authority in churches. There are however big questions of how marriage relationships work if the woman is a church leader and the man isn't...

Roman Catholicism: There's a regular commenter on here who I think is an evangelical charismatic Roman Catholic, and I don't have a problem with that. I think some of the official teachings of the Roman Catholic church are seriously flawed, but I also think the same of some of the official teachings of the Presbyterian Church and the Anglican Church (I might comment on those at a future date).

Cessationism: Seems to have no valid Scriptural support. But neither does the view that God follows our every whim.

Praying for the dead: Is good, pastoral and wise. The old doctrine of Purgatory is, however, complete tosh. That's a very bad reason for praying for the dead, but just because one reason is stupid, doesn't mean the rest are.

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