Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Community, Not Theology

A dear friend passed away last month
From Parkinson's disease.
He and his wife were our close friends
Until my wife died ten years ago.

When their older son died,
I suggested that they look for solace
In a church that offered "community,"
Relegating theology to later consideration.

So they joined the First Parish in Brewster
Where they found community
By plunging into church activities.
My friend managed the reconstruction
  of the historic meetinghouse.

The little church in which I now worship
Lost a third of the congregation to
  theological disputes.
It took our new pastor nearly four years
To rebuild a spirit of community.

Does that mean theology is not important?
Certainly not, but it does mean that
Splitting hairs about biblical interpretation
Results in conflicts that cannot be resolved.

Only God knows what is just and what is true.
A Christian denomination that stands on
Certain beliefs to the exclusion of everything else
Has arrogated to itself exclusive revelation
  from God.

The strength of the Anglican Communion
Has always been tolerance of diverse views
And different ways of worship among the
"High Church" and "Low Church" factions.

As Robin Williams has supposedly said:
"No matter what you believe,
You can always find one Episcopalian
Who agrees with you!"

To The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., I wrote:
"You cannot force beliefs from the top down."
To the Anglican Church in North America, I wrote:
"You cannot build a church on being against something."

I have been to each, and survived by
Refusing to engage in theological debate,
Nor making my personal views known,
Instead, listening to what others reveal.

I have found godly people in each camp
And in churches that espouse no strong beliefs.
The principle that guides success for a church
Is respect for each person's discovery of faith.

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