01 August 2007

Barbara Crafton: Leave God in our story

Barbara Crafton has written a great -- and very brief -- essay over at The Episcopal Majority. I encourage you to read the whole thing, which brilliantly articulates what many progressives have been trying to say for some time now.
A questioning mind is not the devil's work. It is one of the fruits of baptism. We pray for it at the font.

That is why we have married priests, why we have women priests. It is why we have restored the ministry of deacons in the Church. It is why the disabled are not barred from serving in ordained ministry. It is why women who have recently given birth are not considered ritually unclean. It is why Christians need not observe the large and complex corpus of Jewish law. It is why the Church is very different in our century from what it was in the 19th. Or in the 16th. Or the 4th.

This is not a betrayal of principle. It is the way human beings live. We live in history as fish swim in water, and history only moves forward. The realm of God to which we look is without time, but the world in which we now live is bound to history. Eyes open, brain in gear and spirit available for instruction, we move with its current.

Don't try to abandon history, for you cannot, not while you are here. Don't try to stop it. Instead, talk to it. Look at it. Listen to it. The human family has many ways of being in the world, and all are instructive in some way. It is the height of hubris to think that we know all there is to know about God's ways because we understand our own. It cuts God out of our story, and makes it a very local story indeed. A story about us alone.
We on the left don't always do a good job of articulating why we push for change. It's about more than justice. It's about salvation history. So let's open our Bibles, let's read our history, let's study our theology, and then let's situate our work in that deep river of Christian life.

If we don't change, we are idolaters of the past. If we don't keep ourselves firmly grounded in the faith once -- and yet today -- delivered, we are mere cultural relativists. Let's leave God in the story. That means knowing our story, and it means seeking God. But make no mistake about it. The church cannot be the same today as it was yesterday, and it must change again tomorrow. Salvation history, after all, is not just something from the past. It is the present, and the future, too.

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