....from here (PDF)
If this faith of ours is going to be a living one, we have to let go of the idea of Christianity as religion, which I understand to be a system of rules and regulations to get people to behave a certain way that we have deemed acceptable. To say it another way, to make Christian faith primarily about being moral and good. By the way, I believe that this approach has direct import on the struggles we have in being and becoming an Anglican Communion. Stay tuned on that one.
There have been differing moral codes associated with Christianity throughout history. Christian faith, in itself, is not a moral code, however. It is a response in faith to the God revealed in Jesus Christ. It was the theologian Jacque Ellul who said in The Subversion of Christianity, “When I say that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is against morality, I am not trying to say that it replaces one form of morality with another…Revelation is an attack on all morality, as is wonderfully shown by the parables of the kingdom of heaven, that of the prodigal son, that of the talents, that of the eleventh hour laborers, that of the unfaithful steward, and many others (I would add Zacchaeus in the tree). In all the parables the person who serves as an example has not lived a moral life. The one who is rejected is the one who has lived a moral life. Naturally this does not mean that we are counseled to become robbers, murderers, adulterers, etc. On the contrary, the behavior to which we are summoned surpasses morality, all morality, which is shown to be an obstacle to encounter with God.”
I believe that one of our calls from God in this time is to be a people of the Beatitudes where Jesus speaks in hyperbole and metaphor, not in rules and regulations. We are called to live a life in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us in Christ and out of that primary relationship, live the life we are called to live. Until we make that shift the Church will continue to be death and not life. It will not be a transformative experience leading us to the new creation and Jesus as the new human, but merely a shell of a system of religious formula and prescription. Who needs it and it won’t change anything, including us or the people we are called to serve. After all, what good are the rules and regulations when people continue to be slaughtered in Darfur, schools are collapsing in Haiti, our kids are killing one another in the streets, and people in our neighborhoods right in this diocese are losing jobs, have no health insurance and do not have enough to eat.