+Andy Doyle, the Bishop of Texas, with a lights out lecture he gave to the Christian Formation Conference at Camp Allen in September, 2010. It is really good to see a bishop articulating not only the uniqueness of the Christian faith & Jesus, but also the uniqueness of the Episcopal/Anglican church (I use church here purposefully). Too often I here Episcopalians speak of our church as if it is just one more denomination with certain products to offer on the religious marketplace rather than a unique expression of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church with claims to “catholicity” as strong and legitimate as the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. We are English Catholics, the historic catholic church of english speaking peoples… a reformed catholic church. Anyway… I digress, back to +Andy.
A few excerpts:
“The Gospel testifies to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in God’s plan for the salvation of the world.”
“There can be no greater theme – no higher calling for the church to bear witness to salvation in and through Christ.” (Sharing the Gospel of Salvation, GS Misc 956, Report to General Synod Church of England, 2010, from forward, SGS)
“…The Christian story is, quite simply, the most attractive account of the world and the human condition.”
“Theology, [how we believe, how we communicate about God] is not an adjunct to the social sciences – on the contrary, Christian theology is the prism through which the social sciences make the most sense.”
“The task of Christians is not to persuade others of the truth of the gospel story through propositional argument (which, John Milbanks – Anglican theologian – claims, always carries undertones of violence) but to “out narrate” other, rival and less attractive narratives.”
“Christians must so live out their faith, in communities which embody the gospel (especially in practices of worship) that others are attracted by the sublime beauty of God reflected in the Church.” (SGS, 72)
“The Church…is called to be a “community of character”, embodying “the peaceable kingdom.”
“It is not called to prop up other social institutions, such as democracy or capitalism, however useful they may be, but to exhibit in its corporate life the radically alternative life of those who follow Christ.”
“Others will wish to join this community, not because they are convinced intellectually of its argument but because they are captivated by its example of virtuous living.”(SGS, 73)
Anyone can carry out reconciliation, love, forgiveness, healing, justice and peace. But we understand it is God’s work.
Anyone can confront the tensions in the world. But we do so faithfully trying to live out the life of God’s will and sacred narrative.
Anyone can engage in prophetic action, advocacy and collaboration in our contemporary global context. But only we can engage through the unique prophetic witness of the Good News of Salvation.
Anyone can lift every voice and reconcile oppressed and oppressor. But only we can do the work out of the particular understanding that it is the love expressed through God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
And that’s not all:
The Gospel testifies to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in God’s plan for the salvation of the world.
You and I as Christians are challenged to “out narrate” and to communicate our work of “virtuous” living to the world around us. Specifically, we are called to do this work in our given mission context.
We are to be working hand in hand with Jesus Christ to transform the world around us.
You and I, as uniquely created Episcopalians, must reclaim our mission and ministry and tell the story in such a way that when those who retell it and those who hear it reshape the world into the reign of God.