Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why it's Good.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
1 Corinthians 1:18
I just read the New Yorker article by Peter Boyer, "A Church Asunder" after reading John Zahl's blog on it. It set me thinking about what our response should be towards the current crisis in our Communion. I still debate whether the revisionists of ECUSA are better classified (there I go labelling others again) as "Infidels" or "Hereticks" in Cranmerian terms. But the Good Friday collect reminds me that it doesn't really matter. I need to pray for them just the same.

Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; have mercy upon all Jews, Turks (i.e. Muslims), Infidels and Hereticks [sic], and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved amongst the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth, with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Third Collect for Good Friday
1662 Book of Common Prayer

At first hearing (or reading) this collect seems so un-PC. It raises our hackles and seems to run counter to all that we have been led to believe in relating to others in pluralism. But this is the crux of the gospel. This is the message of the cross. Paul Zahl unpacks the background of this prayer in his book on the Cramerian collects:

"The Jews believe in God, but reject Christ. The Mohammedans believe in God and honor Christ, but do not yield Him divine honor. Infidels are those who do not believe the basic doctrines of Christianity. Heretics are Christians who maintain religious opinions contrary to the teachings of the Church. This prayer is more a call to missionary work than a statement of judgment." (p.48 The Collects of Thomas Cranmer)

We're all sinners saved by grace, and in constant need of grace. And that is our motivation for mission. That is why we pray for those outside our congregations. This is why the day of Jesus' death is good. It is the "power of God unto salvation."

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