January 27, 2013

Week of Prayer for Christian Diversity

The Rev. Bosco Peters, an Anglican priest in Christchurch, New Zealand, writes the Liturgy blog. Bosco has declared, unilaterally it seems, the Week of Prayer for Christian Diversity. The week (octave, really) begins today, Sunday, January 27, 2013, and ends next Sunday, February 3, 2013. He writes on his blog
This week acknowledges and is honest about our diversity. In the Northern Hemisphere, Christians have just concluded a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity happens in the Easter Season. Christians cannot even agree when to pray for unity! Let us be honest about our extreme diversity of beliefs. Let us be honest about our enmity—Christian against Christian. Let us be honest about our disagreements. Let us be honest about the diversity of our actions—from some really good stuff, to quite a bit of downright evil. Let us be honest about getting some things right, and quite a bit wrong.
Christian unity is a lovely idea,, but Bosco wisely recognizes that, to many Anglicans, unity means uniformity. Thus, he concluded, we must celebrate Christian diversity explicitly. Bosco is on to something important, and I plan to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Diversity as best I can.

I have adopted Bosco’s badge celebrating Christian diversity. I have reproduced it below, and it now graces every page of my blog. I encourage other bloggers to adopt Bosco’s badge as well.

“That they all may be one” does not mean—should not mean—“that they all may agree.” There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, but that faith is not a large set of propositions on which all Christians must agree. Let us each proclaim and live out the gospel as we understand it and love our Christian brothers and sisters, even when their understanding of the gospel differs from our own.


I belive in Christian diversity



9 comments:

  1. Thank you for bringing this to my attention! Very worthwhile.

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  2. I plan to share this. Thanks, Lionel

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  3. Lionel, I thought the Archbishop of York made good use of I Cor. 12 in his sermon for the Third Epiphany and in reference to the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Perhaps he and you and Paul would converge at least on character of diversity within unity.

    http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/2803/working-together-for-the-glory-of-god

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    1. I was led to think about diversity at church this past Sunday. If one thinks of diversity in terms of personal mission or in ethnic or gender terms, it is easy to support with scripture. Theological or ethical diversity is perhaps harder to support, although one can make a case for it on pragmatic grounds. (Should we take up arms against fellow Christians because their understanding of the Eucharist differs from our own? I think not.) The genius of Anglicanism, I think, is its de-emphasis on doctrine, particular of doctrine that cannot be “proven.”

      As one with more theological than I, can you suggest a biblical argument for theological tolerance? (Isaiah 55:8-9 may be helpful.)

      I got to thinking about this when I tried to write a collect on the theme of diversity. Doing so was harder that I expected.

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  4. Thank you, Lionel, for your enthusiasm and encouragement.

    Blessings

    Bosco

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  5. I think it is certainly the case that some within the Anglican family, especially in the last half century or so, have sought to "de-emphasize doctrine." But historically and even in the present I think it would be more accurate to say that within the broader Anglican universe there are competing, strongly held doctrinal perspectives.

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    1. Bruce,

      You’re right, of course, but, largely, we don’t exile those whose views differ from our own.

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  6. I think you only mean that in the last fifteen minutes or so that hasn't been the standard practice. 8-)

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