Friday, January 22, 2010

Core Doctrines, Living Relationships

Our core doctrines of Incarnation and Trinity as found in the Creeds are not about mere intellectual assent or dogged adherence to formulae, they are about professions of the living relationships between persons and Persons in which we find ourselves by sheer gift not only in our Redemption but in our Creation through the Word and by the Spirit, that is, from the beginning, acknowledged or not.

After all, no one existing is outside of Creation, and as both St Maximus and long after him, F.D. Maurice, remind, and the Lux Mundi school also. Because this is so, no one is ever outside of Christ though they may not know this is so or may refuse to acknowledge their dependence. This recognition and profession of dependence, what Maurice calls the heart of conversion and repentance, sits at the heart not only of our Creeds, but our classic Canon and the Dominical Sacraments . By no merits of our own are we created, redeemed, sustained, by only for His Love's sake. Our life is utter gift always and each moment. Turn and believe in He who loves us so. Only in Him do we find life eternal. Outside of Him is no thing.

These doctrines tells us, this is Who God is and we know this is so by how God has been for us and to us and with us in his self-communication through Creation, through His relationship with Israel in guide, prophets, and wisdom, and definitively in Jesus Christ, His very self in the flesh who in His Ascension raises all of Creation into God's own life, "that He might fill all things." To confess these is not merely to give assent to some dead-letter or offer adherence to a set of words not easily understood, but to admit our utter dependence upon and need for the One they proclaim who creates, saves, and sustains us: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This One who makes Himself known to us and yet remains more than we can ever comprehend.

The late William Temple better than I writes in this regard in describing Anglicanism in the relationship of doctrine and life in God:

Our special character and, as we believe, our peculiar contribution to the Universal Church, arises from the fact that owing to historic circumstances, we have been enabled to combine in our one fellowship the traditional Faith and Order of the Catholic Church with that immediacy of approach to God through Christ to which the Evangelical Churches especially bear witness, and freedom of intellectual inquiry, whereby the correlation of the Christian revelation and advancing knowledge is constantly effected. (Temple, Encyclical, Lambeth 1930)

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