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DAR2007: Reconciliation When God Says Discipline Equals Partnership in Rebellion



By Canon Gary L'Hommedieu in Dar es Salaam www.virtueonline.org 2/19/2007

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us." (2 Cor 5:18-19 NRSV)

In a comment earlier this week I mentioned that the Primates in the first session had been "lulled into reconciliation mode". Even as I wrote those words I could hear dumfounded cries of, "What could be wrong with that? Isn't that good? Isn't that what Christians are supposed to do?"

I knew the term reconciliation needed to be reclaimed. In typical Anglican Communion Newspeak a biblical term (reconciliation) has been snatched from its original context, assigned a different meaning and redeployed as a biblical mandate for an unbiblical agenda. The orthodox Anglican Primates appear to be in danger, once again, of falling for it.

To answer the question of my imaginary critics: No, it's not good that the Primates seem to be fooled into being reconciled, because they are being drawn into a non-biblical, pseudo-reconciliation. They are being lulled out of Christ's ministry of reconciliation into some other. At the present time nothing could be worse than that.

Reconciliation was Frank Griswold's response to the problem of heresy - or rather, the problem of having to acknowledge heresy long enough to dismiss it. There were complaints of heresy by the orthodox. The complaints became so numerous, and so credible, that they clearly lead to schism. Rather than honestly investigate the validity of such claims, Griswold initiated a program of "waging reconciliation." After all, he was one of the chief architects of heresy under the guise of Christianity.

This new reconciliation was a reconciliation of sorts - reconciliation as defusing an argument. It never solved the real problem but only sought to deny there was one. It sought to reconcile in the sense of incorporating heretics and orthodox believers in one big tent, yoking Christ and Belial in a single team and ploughing forward with no apparent need to look back.

Such a yoke would be the worst possible outcome of the last ten years, because it would firmly establish pseudo-Christianity as the official faith of the Anglican Communion. Its effect would be to nullify Christ's own ministry of reconciliation and establish another in his name, one designed to fool folks in the pews, like my would-be critics.

The New Testament speaks of reconciliation in two ways: the first is the simple meaning of reconciling two parties in an argument. In the Book of Acts Stephen retells the story of Moses seeking to reconcile two Hebrew brothers who fought with each other (7:26). This sort of reconciliation has no specific theological implication.

Reconciliation as a theological term is used by Paul specifically to describe God's purpose in sending His Son into the world, namely to reconcile all things to Himself (Col. 1:20). Paul would use this in his own pastoral practice as a model for ending arguments between Jew and Gentile, breaking down the dividing wall of hostility.

In Romans, Paul's theological treatise, he expounds the NT theology of reconciliation, that is, the theology of the Incarnation. He tells how God has reconciled the world to himself through the body of Jesus Christ on the cross. In his Corinthian letters Paul details the apostolic ministry of reconciliation. It always includes making peace between Christian brothers after the pattern of Christ making peace with the Father, but this peace is always for the purpose of advancing God's ministry of reconciling the world through the cross, unhampered and unhindered by party spirit and jealousy.

The new reconciliation of Frank Griswold, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and now the Anglican Primates as a block, is to demand reconciliation of any sort as part of the New Testament mandate. The prophet Jeremiah called it "peace when there is no peace." If two sides are at odds, reconciliation means ending the quarrel. One side may prevail on the other, or both may achieve a new consensus. It doesn't matter. As long as peace is achieved, then Christ's reconciliation has been effected.

Of course this is just a parody of the New Testament doctrine of reconciliation, and a cynical one at that, since its intent is to divert one group (the orthodox Primates, particularly of the Global South) from their agenda of preaching the cross to the false gospel of reconciliation through social engineering - the failed dream of elitists since the dawning of the modern era.

The Anglican Churches of the West have sought to deconstruct the Gospel and construct a new doctrine of reconciliation based upon United Nations Millennium Development Goals as the model. Jefferts Schori has referred ad nauseum to "reconciling the world" through MDG's. One supposes she means reconciling some peoples of the world to others. Or perhaps she just means some sort of generic "reconciliation" as a lofty term for improving conditions in the world, with the hint of a moral mandate behind it. Either way it is not the same as the apostolic ministry of reconciliation, where sinners are reconciled to the Father through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Schori and her counterparts use this nuanced "reconciliation" as a foil against the orthodox, as if the latter are only interested in hashing out fine points of religious doctrine, while she and her colleagues are about the urgent business of saving and "reconciling" the world from hunger and AIDS. She employs the rhetoric of false dichotomy to win an argument and silence an opponent. Whether she actually gets around to helping anyone remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether anyone will think to evaluate just how well the world is being "reconciled" by her efforts, other than more liberals winning arguments in their war against their conservative counterparts.

The orthodox don't talk so much about Millennium Goals, not because they don't believe in them, but rather because they refuse to acknowledge MDG's as the essence of historic Gospel of reconciliation. They refuse to participate in the false "either or" of faithfulness in doctrine OR faithfulness in social praxis.

The orthodox are the ones with a doctrine whose time has come. There is every good reason to promote the classic missionary objective of preaching the cross precisely as God's appointed means to save the world both spiritually AND materially. Those who are reconciled to the Father are the Spirit's tools for responding to the needs of people. Those who are reconciled to the Father through the Cross of God the Son have the Spirit, and the power, to help others without the psychological need to prove themselves through winning arguments and wrangling affirmations out of the public.

Liberals are stuck saving themselves through saying nice things about saving the world. Biblical Christians are free to trust God to save them and the world.

Orthodox Christians have always been the most finely attuned to the material as well as the spiritual needs of people throughout the world. They have been lampooned by the Left because they have been skeptical of social revolutions beginning with the French Revolution. They have noticed that revolutions invariably shift from the rhetoric of "liberty, fraternity, and equality" to reigns of terror and blood baths between warring factions; and in spite of this, the world remains unreconciled.

Jefferts Schori and her elite den of worldly reconcilers need to explain why they seek to replicate the failed revolutions of the recent past. They also need to explain why they would stop at 7 tenths of a cent on the dollar and call that "reconciliation"! Most Christians would call that "chump change", and if they believed the UN could honestly and efficiently broker MDG's, they would be happy to participate. It is the liberals who will be content to support MDG's whether they work or not, as long as they can stand in the limelight as the world's "reconcilers".

It is crucial now, at this moment, that the truth about God's ministry of reconciliation be proclaimed, and that the falsehood of the attempt by the West to hijack the Gospel to justify their own heretical drift be exposed. Here in Dar es Salaam, where powerful people are making important decisions affecting the fate of millions, God's Word must mandate God's agenda, not anybody else's.

---The Rev. Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon for Pastoral Care at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, Florida, and a regular columnist for VirtueOnline.

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