Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Neither Trends nor Tradition, but the Truth

The Anglican Church held a vote to advance the ordination of female bishops. Instead of trying to flavor a stale word, the salt and light which is the Anglican Church has chosen to become dirty and old, good for nothing but to be cast out. I speak of the institution, not the individuals who commune under the authority of the Anglican Church. In this manner, Jesus instructed some of the churches in Asia minor that if they did not repent, their light would be put out -- Jesus did not say that he would extinguish the believers, but he did communicate that the specific congregations would be scattered.

Because of this dessicating trend, in which religious leaders are giving in to the trends of the world instead of standing on the Truth, the growing number of concerned and dissatisfied parishioners are fleeing to other flocks, where politics and religious are giving way to people and the Spirit of God, who wants to live in everyone of us.

Twenty years ago, the Anglican church authorized by a two-thirds vote the ordination of female pastors. Following this "liberal" policy, an exodus of Anglicans moved to the Catholic Church. Some Anglican priest took Holy Orders in the same religious community, yet the ecclesiastic authorities from Rome permit these traveling priests to keep their wives due to a unique exception in canon law for returning Anglicans.

This decision will likely precipitate another split in the Anglican Communion. From approving female priests to accommodating homosexual conduct, this religious organization is giving into the trends of the world instead of sticking to its traditions. The greatest problem in both shifts, however, is that both stray so far from the truth as revealed in God's Word, the Bible.

Regarding the ordination of women for any leadership role in churches, opponents will point to the following verse:

"I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." (1 Timothy 2: 12)

In no way should one interpret this passage as demeaning to women. On the contrary, Paul lays a clear charge on husbands:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" (Ephesians 5: 25)

A man and a wife are one flesh, before God. The notion that a woman would be inferior, then, to the man makes no sense at all. Furthermore, the passage suggests with the word "allow" an idea of "turning over" or trust, as in guardianship. It is unseemly for a woman to be the head of the household, in part because a man has no right to refuse the responsibility given to him by God. The emphasis is not on the weakness or the defects of the woman, but the responsibility which belongs to the man.

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." (1 Corinthians 13: 34)

"The law" refers to Genesis 3: 16 in which the woman was cursed in that she would desire her husband and he would rule over her. Under grace, under the New Covenant, a woman obeys not out of fear, but by the grace of God, who then blesses her in obedience.

It is unseemly for a woman to have to force her will on anyone. She does not have to. The grace of God permits every woman to walk by faith and thus allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wills in the life of the husband:

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;" (1 Peter 3: 1)

This verse should gladden many women, whom God can use in ministry not by their leadership, but by the wisdom imparted to them, so that they can assist and convince or convict their husbands as needed.

The Anglican Church split with the Roman Catholic Church under Henry VIII, who sought a legal dissolution of his marriage, but could not get one from the Roman authorities, in large part because his estranged wife was a practicing Catholic from a country heavy and militarily allied with Rome.

Not for spiritual reasons, not for a continues quested to preach the Good News, not to glorify God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, but for venal political reasons the Anglican Church was formed, with the monarch of the United Kingdom as head of the ecclesiastical community.

Aside from other slight traditions, the Anglicans  maintained the same traditions as the Catholics. For political, not spiritual reasons, the conflicts between Roman and Anglican escalated.

Long after the religious wars had diminished, with tolerance instead of insistence as the norm, religious communities ceased to influence the public by force. Traditional communities splintered further as more people read their Bibles and believed what they  were reading instead of heeding what they were hearing.

We should thank Martin Luther not only for reading the Word of God, but also providing it in the vernacular of his own people, furthering the movement of many God-fearing men and women, who faced state persecution and death for rendering the Bible so that anyone could read it. Even Luther did not go far enough, though, since the Lutheran communities maintained many of the same traditions as the Roman Catholic Church. The division in religious communities between traditional and protestant blossomed into tolerance and a reduced role of religion in the life of the state.

Yet traditions remain, and the slow trend to withdraw or mold these traditions is inevitable. Man cannot maintain anything by dint of reputation or culture, for man, like the world and the flesh of man, is passing.

The Word of God does not change. The Word of God ministers Truth, because the Word of God speaks of Christ and Him Crucified, the Way, the Truth, and the Life: better than tradition, and more lasting than any trend.

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