The Rector's Weekly Column

Rev. Victor H. Morgan


 

         The pressing need of the 21st century is clear speaking. Double talk and obfuscation has become a way of life not only in the political arena, but in every facet of life -- yes, even in the Church.

         We are so afraid of offending anyone that we end up saying nothing -- at least nothing anyone can use. I once heard a church leader say "Jesus works for me, but I would not seek to impose Him on anyone else."

         Of course, if what this person was saying is true, the Christian Church has been operating on a false premise for the past 2,000 years. This premise, based on an unambiguous command of Jesus Christ, is that the Church's mission is to go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and teaching them to observe the commands of Christ.

         This, of course, does not mean that the Church dismisses or belittles the insights of other faith traditions. Glimpses of the divine come from many different sources. All creation witnesses to the creator. This we mustn't deny.

         But having said this, the Church cannot shift from the conviction that is as old as Christianity: That God is revealed fully and finally in the person of Jesus Christ. The Most Rev. George Carey, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, called this the "scandal of particularity," with which Christians must live.

         "We know how infuriating and arrogant such a claim must seem to those who sincerely believe that in their scriptures and in their worship God is found and experienced," Carey said. "But we must say with Paul as he preached to the adherents of other faiths in Athens: Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you (Acts 17:23). This is the scandal of particularity with which we must live. Christians cannot yield this un-negotiable element in their faith. We believe that the God of the universe longs to reveal Himself and He does so in many different ways and forms, through religion, reason, art and human intelligence, but each and every one of these ways is limited. Only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can God be fully known, worshiped and obeyed.

         So, the Church must first and foremost speak clearly about Jesus Christ. But, she must also speak clearly about other matters of faith and life.

         The Christian faith is not just about what we say and do Sunday but how we lead our lives the whole week long. If the Church is to be true to her Lord and herself, she must struggle to apply Scriptural principles to all of life.

         By example and word she must seek to bring back Christian teachings and practices into family life; to bring back faith and loyalty into married life; to bring back integrity, honesty and craftsmanship to industrial and commercial life; to bring back decency and trustfulness into public life; to bring back faith and values into national life.

         In short, the Church must know what (and in whom) she believes and not hesitate to speak with a clear voice in an uncertain age.

         O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Rev. Victor H. Morgan is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Blue Ridge.


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