tag : bright yellow-green apples: mild surrender

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Friday, February 25, 2005

mild surrender

figure 1.8. won't you tell me how to get to

I'm off tomorrow for the annual SCM conference weekend, so this'll have to do you until I get back. Tonight I shall be preaching on the subject of compromise.

Compromise seems to be a dirty word these days. Some declare the truth of God to be antithetical to any sense of it, and that avoiding it is worth breaking relationships over. As I write, it seems that the Anglican Church is making moves for a formal split, however temporary, because of an inability to hold their variance in tension. Some declare truthfulness with self to be so high that we cannot contemplate it. There is a rising cult of consumer enlightenment where you shop for your self-realisation without looking to either side. At the very least, our fairly individualistic leaning, in general, in our west means that it's implicitly avoided if we're to fulfil our personal potential.

I want to suggest that the lost art of compromise needs to be taken seriously. When we have relating with others, then there is sense in which we relativise any wilful individual claims to do anything without regard. We have to make our very self relative in order to really interact with more than a superficial air. Yes let's have our differences, and love them deeply, but let's not allow this to justify self-indulgent and self-righteous fragmentation into niche groups. The Church, for example, has a tendency to schism every time it comes across a difficult situation.

As community comes under some pretty difficult strains and changes, I would hope that people don’t simply atomise further by this pattern. To live in a dynamic of give-and-take, whilst having something you believe in utterly, might be an increasingly rare commodity if we're not careful.


Blogger thebluefish said...

http://thebluefish.blogspot.com/2005/02/contending-for-our-all.html [Contending for all]

One wonders what Athanasius would make of your thoughts on compromise...

9:53 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

For anyone of a lazy bent, here's that link.

I wonder indeed. It's really a moot point, but I would certainly hesitate before calling down another big doctrinal wrangling session of the kind he was a party to. Plus the kind of stuff delpt with there was really foundational - what does Christ mean to us as the Church? ect. My interest here is approach, bearing in mind our beliefs, and that might well be a more subject enterprise...

2:07 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

I think any comparison between Athanasius and the modern church is somewhat limited, to be honest.

5:32 PM  
Blogger thebluefish said...

How many new problems are there really? God's revelation hasn't evolved... he revealed himself objectively... and since then people have rejected and twisted that revelation... The debates might be over different things today than then, but the issues look decidedly similar really...


5:49 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Ah yes, but revelation is a two-sided thing. And our side of the human-divine meeting is always in flux, our societies change and develop. Our worldviews and issues, concerns and norms are not the same from one age to another - or from one place to another, for that matter. Thus, it does evolve, if only in the sense that if God wants to be able to communicate then the means and language will also develop and adapt. Far be it for me to speak on behalf of God, but God won't get very far speaking in the same way if it doesn’t make any sense to us.

This seems fairly uncontroversial. Where I may get into more trouble with a lot of people is in saying that God therefore speaks in radically different ways to different people, as a result. Thus I would suggest, for example, that many of the first followers of Islam in North Africa might well have been relieved to turn to Al-lah after struggling with Trinitarian theology. To turn around to my original thoughts above, compromise is not a state of apathy or a selling out of our traditions to laissez-faire meta-religion. But it does recognise that what feels right and good and natural and…the TRUTH to us might well be unrealistic or inappropriate for someone else. It takes a little lee way in our interactions if that space of respect is really to live. Some people may find benefit from adopting another's outlook, some may not. The latter are as important as the former, oh we evangelists must remember that.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Dave - I just think it's a dangerous line to tread to view things from the point of view that Athanasius stood his ground over the specifics of what he believes, and therefore we must too.

I realise your line is a little more complex, but I don't buy the whole 'No Compromise' thing from the boiling down to never giving ground at all.

I don't think the issues are that similar, if we are talking about the Anglican split, because the issue of homosexuality is not, in my view, one solely about the nature and relevation of God, but very much how we deal with other people and their most personal characteristics.

6:35 PM  

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