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JESUS AND THE COVENANT

Facebook has brought me into contact with Claviers around the world. One is names Jesus, and lives in Venezuela. I wrote to him saying that if I told people I was emailing Jesus they would be sure I’d lost my marbles. He replied that they would be even more amazed to discover that Jesus’ last name is Clavier!

The process of electing a Bishop for Northern Michigan more and more centers on the question, “Who is Jesus?”  That question gets muddled with speculation about if or how God works outside the Church, whether non Christians may be “saved” or can we learn from other world religions? These speculations have nothing essentially to do with who we believe Jesus is.

The Creeds, which we all recite at the Eucharist and the Daily Offices clearly state who we, and by we I mean the Church, believe Jesus to be. He is truly God and truly Man, the connection between humanity and the Godhead and thus the gateway to relationship with God. His Incarnation, Atonement, Resurrection and Ascension accomplished for the sins of the whole world that which no other religious or human activity may. In this sense Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and in that sense “no one may come to God except through Jesus.”

The sole purpose of the Church is to tell this extraordinary Good News until Jesus comes again and to preview in its being that which will be when all things are gathered into God in a new Heaven and a new Earth. We enter this community of faith and practice through Baptism and we are kept alive and in communion with the Trinity through the Eucharist.

This is the faith of the Church. Now when we get to the questions of how or if God works outside the Church, or whether devout people of faith in other world religion may be called by God through Christ and the Spirit outside the Church, or whether they can teach us important things by their practices and goodness, who will be saved and who will not, the Church has never defined certain belief or knowledge for us. Indeed Jesus seems to say to us that this knowledge is “none of our business.”

The very fact that many non-conservative bishops are voting not to confirm the Bishop-elect of Northern Michigan is a signal that when it comes to the heart of the Gospel many whose thoughts on sexuality seem rather odd, have not given up credal orthodoxy.What is troubling is that it appears that the election of the bishop-elect has been met with approval and support by the Presiding Bishop and other national church officials.

And this is a pressing example of why we need a Covenant. When our church was organized -if it has ever been organized – General Convention promised that the American Church would not depart from the essential doctrine espoused by the Church of England. The adoption of an Anglican Covenant by the Episcopal Church would be a similar promise and agreement to be faithful to the essential doctrine and worship the Anglican Communion has received and proclaimed.

I rather fancy from what I have read that the Bishop-elect has come to his opinions not through the employment of intellectual rigor but by emotional sentimentalism. This form of sentimentalism is often confused with the Christian notion of love. Christian love is not primary sentimental and has nothing essentially to do with “feelings” at all. But that is a story for another day.

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