Total visitors right now: 107

Click here to check your private inbox.

Welcome to Stand Firm!

Strategery 101: Defining the Terms

Monday, July 3, 2006 • 7:48 am

What makes them Worthy Opponents, and a brief reminder of basic theology


Much of the time, you will find that I refer to “our Worthy Opponents” rather than the traditional terms of “liberal”, “reappraiser”, “progressive”, and—on a more hostile note from some—“heretic”, “apostate”, and “pagan”.  Each of those names may or may not be useful terms of integrity—that is, they may describe a part of *reality*—but I really prefer “Worthy Opponent” when I am able to use it.

I think it is a good idea to explain why those people who embody the false ideas which we are resisting within the Episcopal church are “Worthy Opponents”.

The first—and most important reason—that I use the term “Worthy Opponents” is that they are worthy because they are made in the image of God.  That seems somewhat basic.  But it’s a good reminder.

We are all human beings, made as an image of God Himself.  As the pagans of old did in their substitute religions, so God did in reality.  He created a living, beautiful temple environment, the Garden—a perfect, unbroken world—and He formed a perfect image of Himself.  That image of Himself He set within His temple—the Garden—to represent Him, to rule in honor and dignity, and to have relationship with Him.

It is true that—in our free and responsible will—we shattered ourselves and the “temple”, our perfect world—and the rest, as they say, is history.  The unfolding centuries reveal the extent of that awful shattering: how we have “ruled” with a cruelty and savagery that is far worse than the animal kingdom, how by a thousand nicks and cuts every day we harm ourselves and other image bearers, how we have corrupted and mired the world and ourselves so that often, we cannot even discern that “image” of God that we in fact are.

Each of us is a part of that Great Corruption.  And each of us bear the image of God.  We do not even lose the image of God when we perform the worst crimes, torture, and rape, and cold, calculated murder of innocents.  That is why, even if we must treat such people as dangerous “wild animals” who have cunning and coldness—and thus restrain them as best as we are able—we also treat them [again as we are able to with the safety of others and ourselves in mind] with dignity and respect.

If we had not been so very good, so very perfect, we could not be so very bad.  That is the greatest tragedy, as we observe the Mao’s, and the Stalins, and the Khan’s, and the Nero’s of history—and as we observe even ourselves, somewhat less far-reaching and successful in our sin, but still petty, shallow, corrupt, tawdry, pathetic sinners.  I suspect that the main difference between me and Nero is that I’m not as *successful* in my ego and efforts to inflict *my will* on others.  Were I to have a little more energy, interest, and will power, I could probably inflict my sins on a more far-reaching . . .  shall we say historic, level.  But each sinner desires that “my will be done”; each sinner sets *himself* on the throne of the universe, though some of our universes are more constricted than the more “successful” sinners are.

It is as if we are excavating what was once a glorious, beautiful castle.  We marvel at the outlines, the traceries of walls and spires and turrets.  We still see what is beatiful—the fallen grey stone of the ruins, a beautiful spreading oak tree above the walls, a rookery or tower, still standing, and the sun setting behind it, the grandeur of what once was.  We are amazed at what we are seeing—a “glorious ruin”.

While our history is marked by the horror of what we have done and become—one has only to take a glance at the newspaper to see what we do to one another every day, or simply honestly review our own previous yesterday where we personally assisted in the blurring of ours and other’s images through “a thousand slights, insults, degradations, and neglects”—our history is also marked with God’s majestic work of *recovery*.  That is easily as interesting as our own history—His work of recovery down through the ages. 

He is very interested in each person that He has “conceived” in His heart.  He has “imagined” each one of us and is eager for the methodical recovery of what He had once imagined and we corrupted.  Every creature—even birds and cats and bears—is of deep interest to Him and fulfills a unique and special purpose.  And every creature is *subject* to His love, whether he or she knows it or not.

Jesus—the image and the direct replica of God Himself because He is God—shows us both who God is, and shows us what it is to be truly and perfectly human.  We can only do a part of one of those things, and not very well—reveal and display a flawed humanness.  But Jesus can display perfect humanness and perfect deity in one person.  He is thus the only one who could work on our behalf and represent us, to satisfy the universe’s created laws of Justice and order and offer Himself in substitute for our own broken, sinful selves. 

And that is what He did, so that the process of restoration and recovery might continue in each person who is called by God and given the great gifts of repentance and faith.  The image of God is undergoing, by the Spirit of God in each Christian, a painstaking and detailed process of restoration. 

Jesus offered Himself for every person who has ever lived and who ever will live.  And so, each of us is not only of inestimable value because of our original condition as the image-bearer of God, but because Jesus valued us enough to offer Himself for our recovery.

It has been said that before every human being entering the room, there should be choirs and flights of angels, trumpet bearers, entering before that person, saying “make way, make way for the image-bearer of God.”  By a hundred acts of courtesy that have been woven into our varying cultures, we display that reality, whether we articulate it or believe it, or not.  We stand up when older image-bearers enter the room.  We use titles when we address others.  We bow and nod and smile and utter canned formalities, that change with each generation but nevertheless serve the same purpose—formal acknowledgement of human beings.  We indulge in the great ceremonies: marriages, and graduations, and confirmations, and baptisms, and birthdays, and trivial thank-you gifts—“small tokens of our esteem” as they were once called.  And when our mortal lives are ended, our friends and family don’t simply toss our bodies out on some public garbage heap, or quietly put us in a large trash bag and dig up some far-away ground to deposit the body in; even though *we are no longer there* and our essence has departed, our bodies are treated with dignity and care and ritual and ceremony. 

In one of my favorite books, by a favorite author, C S Lewis, the main character sees a loved one, named Psyche, whom she had thought lost for ever and who had indeed suffered greatly.  The loved one had been “given” to the gods [or God, as is referred to by “the gods” in this book].  And it is speculated by some that this loved one, Psyche, is actually a “Goddess”, because she is now changed, and “glorified” in her humanity.  This is what the main character says about her:

“And yet (this is hard to say) with all this, even because of all this, she was the old Psyche still, a thousand times more her very self than she had been before the Offering.  For all that had then but flashed out in a glance or a gesture, all that one meant most when one spoke her name, was now wholly present, not to be gathered up from hints nor in shreds, not some of it in one moment and some in another.  Goddess?  I had never seen a real woman before.”

Someday, when we meet our fellow Christian loved-ones in heaven, we will see them as they were meant to be, as they had been conceived of by God, without the marring effects of the world, the flesh, and the devil on them.  We will see “real men” and “real women”, whom we have never seen before.  Each one of us—every human being—is either working with God in this process of restoration or working avidly against it by bowing the knee to the “god of self”.  We are either traveling in one direction or the other. 

But we are all of us more alike than we are different.  We are made in the image of God, we are corrupted, we are “glorious ruins”, God desires an intimate relationship with us, and He came down from heaven to die for us and be raised for us and to work with us through His spirit.

Furthermore, each one of our Worthy Opponents—just like each one of us—has a personal history.  It is a personal history that involves some golden, summer days of warmth and security and freedom and personal success.  And it is a personal history marked by great suffering and pain.  Each one of our Worthy Opponents was a small child, with parents and siblings usually, and middle school, and strange family histories, and periods of awkwardness and rejection by peers, and terrible, shocking, horrific times of pain and trauma. 

How do I know all of this?  Because I know me, first of all.  And because I have been privileged to know other people’s stories as well.  God gives, thankfully, common grace to each one of us to survive what the world, the flesh, and the devil throw at us.  But He does not give us the common grace to survive *other people’s stories*, only our own. 

I suspect that if we could peel back a curtain and sample just a few days of childhood from another’s life, we would be filled with sadness for what both our friends and enemies have suffered. 

People are who they are for a reason.  As we consider our Worthy Opponents, it becomes clear that some of them actually *hate* us.  They hate our ideas, and since we represent those ideas “in the flesh”, they also hate us.  As the faces of those who are the most bitter and hateful file before our mind’s eyes [and you know who they are, because you read their writings and see them at General Convention and hear their words in interviews]—we need to recognize that they didn’t simply spring out fully formed from the ground, but that they arrived with years, decades, scores of years, and generations of experiences and ideas and teaching and examples backing up who they have become right now, at this instant. 

I am still on my *first* reason for using the term “Worthy Opponents”.  ; > )  But it is the most important and the longest.  The other two reasons will go quickly, I promise, in a second essay.  But it is important that we recognize the “players” in this game, who our allies are, and who our opponents are.

And our opponents are Worthy Opponents. 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

—CS Lewis, from the Weight of Glory


36 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook
Comments:

Sarah,

This is truly great. You have persuaded me to turn to the term “Worthy Opponents”

[1] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-03-2006 at 08:19 AM • top

Sarah,

We’ve had this conversation before.  Yes, our opponents are made in the image of God.  Yes, by God’s grace they can be redeemed from their sins just as we are hopefully being redeemed from ours.  I say hopefully not because of any failure on God’s part, but ours.  Now, I have a hard time attaching the description “Worthy” to our opponents, particularly those who were ordained to guard and defend the faith.  Allow me to quote from Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. to support my argument: “Let us say that a sin is any act - any thought, desire, emotion, word, or deed - or its particular absence, that displeases God and deserves blame.  Let us add that the disposition to commit sins also displeases God and deserves blame, and let us therefore use the word sin to refer to such instances of both act and disposition.  Sin is a culpable and personal affront to a personal God.”  [No the Way It’s Supposed to Be, p. 13]

It is God who defines what sin is; God has done so for us through the revelation of Himself and His ways by way of Scripture, and bishops and priests have willfully rejected the counsel of God and have taught others to do so.  This is what makes our opponents unworthy, in my view.

[2] Posted by Tony on 07-03-2006 at 08:36 AM • top

Then I would assume, Tony, that you would say the same thing about you. 

You commit sins that are “culpable and personal” affronts “to a personal God”, and you have, as all of us, “willfully rejected the counsel of God and have taught others to do so”.  I love the book by Plantinga—and he makes the accurate point that we are all of us immersed in precisely what you have quoted above.  And so by that definition we are all unworthy.

It follows then, that I am using the word “worthy” in an entirely different way than you are when you say that our Worthy Opponents are unworthy.  And by your definition of the word—sinners—of course they, like I, am unworthy.

But in using my definition of the word “worthy”, which does not entail the universal reality of our willful and wicked sin, I count them as Worthy Opponents.

[3] Posted by Sarah on 07-03-2006 at 09:02 AM • top

wor·thy (wûr)
adj. wor·thi·er, wor·thi·est
1. Having worth, merit, or value; useful or valuable.
2. Honorable; admirable: a worthy fellow.
3. Having sufficient worth; deserving: worthy to be revered; worthy of acclaim.
n. pl. wor·thies
An eminent or distinguished person.

————————————————————————————————————————

worthi·ly adv.
worthi·ness n.

[4] Posted by Milton Finch on 07-03-2006 at 09:05 AM • top

Sarah:

A great piece, and I intend to forward on, and like Tony, think Worthy Opponents is a better title than others that you mention.  I look forward to more!

[5] Posted by Ruth Ann on 07-03-2006 at 09:06 AM • top

Tony,

Think of it this way. I have far more respect for the VGR’s of this world who will die fighting for their convictions (even though they are wrong) than those who have no convictions at all.

The fact that they are devoted in this way lends itself to some form of mutual understanding, respect, and even honor.

Hence they are our Worthy Opponents in the same way that Rommel and Patton were worthy opponents

[6] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-03-2006 at 09:25 AM • top

Sarah, thank you for borrowing from and restating winsomely my favorite author, C. S. Lewis.  We do well to remember St. Paul’s admonition, “We struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

[7] Posted by Milton on 07-03-2006 at 09:32 AM • top

“Having worth, merit, or value; useful or valuable.”

As indeed we all are in God’s eyes through the act of redemption.  Very useful, Sarah, in helping us to stop demonizing those with whom we disagree.  The more we “caricature” & generalize about “them” (whoever “they” are) the less we are able to see them as they are - children of God.  We need (IMHO) to really and truly separate the “worthy” person from their acts, behaviors, and words.

[8] Posted by GL+ on 07-03-2006 at 09:32 AM • top

Yes, Sarah, we are all unworthy.

Ruth Ann, I didn’t use any other titles other than to say that I think of our opponents as unworthy.  I wouldn’t even call the the loyal opposition at this point.  They are disloyal to the revelation of God, disloyal to the Anglican Communion, and disloyal to those of us who have tried to maintain some sense of institutional loyalty with them in ecusa.

Matt: Respect, yes, as fellow human beings.  Honor, no.  Mutual understanding: there seems to be very little of this.

[9] Posted by Tony on 07-03-2006 at 09:34 AM • top

Tony,

I think you are misunderstanding. I don’t think they are disloyal. They were never loyal in the first place. They probably think they are being loyal.

By mutual understanding I mean, we both recognize that we are not going to compromise and that we will fight each other to the end. That is the kind of understanding that might lead to an amicable seperation.

[10] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-03-2006 at 09:39 AM • top

All:  I find it helpful to refer back to my military experience and note how effective it is to have a healthy respect for one’s opponent(s), although in the heat of battle their humanity is difficult to remember.  Look now at how veterans of both sides in WWII meet on the old fields of battle, and embrace.  I think of a commemoration at Gettysburg, when septuagenarian and octegenarian veterans of the Union and Confederate Armies re-enacted Picket’s Charge, and ended by embracing one another on that once-bloody field, now locked in love and respect, not battle. And yet another is the unofficial Christmas eve truce in 1914, when English and German troops gathered between their lines to sing Christmas songs and wish one another a Happy Christmas.  If we dehumanize our opponents, or make them “unworthy”, we do the same thing to ourselves.  John Donne enjoins us all “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”.

Charles

[11] Posted by El Jefe on 07-03-2006 at 10:23 AM • top

Matt, Because they were never loyal in the first place they are not disloyal?  Using El Jefe’s analogy, if we are in the military, would we not treat disloyalty as treason?  Would the argument hold that they can’t be treated as disloyal because they were never loyal to begin with?

2. How can there be mutual understanding when the other side thinks that all we all have to do is stay at the table together?  Either they don’t get it or they don’t want to get it: by their actions they have walked apart from communion with orthodox, catholic and apostolic Christians.

[12] Posted by Tony on 07-03-2006 at 10:36 AM • top

Tony,

For there to be “treason” there must have been a time when they were loyal.

These people were never orthodox believers, never adherents to the one true faith. So, they may be false teachers but I would hesitate to say traitors.

Also, the other side is NOT saying that anymore. You should have heard them at GC. They want separation from the AC and us.

[13] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-03-2006 at 10:40 AM • top

Sarah,

When I was first entering this discussion with the Worthy Opponents in my church and in my diocese (who, by the by, did not take kindly to my confronting them over their beliefs), I sought refuge and guidance from my spiritual mentor.  He was just a month away from hearing for the first time that he had terminal cancer.  After listening to me vent and rant about double standards, shallow theology, and abusive power, he said that these words kept coming back to him, “Love them more.” 

Why are our opponents worthy?  Because the God of Second Chances loves them (props to Bebo).  Based on my attempts at reaching out to our Worthy Opponents, until they hear and feel Christ’s love for them in us, they will not listen.

I know, I know, I still believe that there is a chance that they will listen.  Peace.

[14] Posted by Widening Gyre on 07-03-2006 at 10:43 AM • top

I am nothing more than one of His sheep, safely in the fold.  When I look out and see the Shepherd climbing down the cliff to rescue another of His sheep that has wandered away, fallen, or obstinately refused to come back up, how can I view this sheep as anything other than worthy when in my Shepherd’s eyes this sheep is one of His and is as deserving as I to be rescued.

Widening, thank you for the story.

[15] Posted by Bill C on 07-03-2006 at 03:11 PM • top

Matt, picking up where we left off before the server change, or so-called worthy opponents enlisted under the terms of service set forth in our ordinal.  Whether they interpret them differently than the orthodox is an issue that we are currently dealing with in our two churches under one roof crisis.  Going back to the military analogy, our so-called worthy opponents would stand trial at a war crimes tribunal after the conflict and if convicted would bow their heads in shame before the world.  That will happen for them one day, maybe not in this world.  Hence, I will not call them worthy except in the sense of worthy of concern, care, love, rebuke, etc.

[16] Posted by Tony on 07-03-2006 at 11:09 PM • top

tony,

this is a bit of a non-sequitur. No one has argued that our Worthy Opponents are not morally culpable for their errors.

Robert E Lee fought agressively for and defended the southern states during the civil war. He did so because felt his highest loyalty to lie with his home state of VA. But in making this decision he also lent his skill and arms to defending system that was hellish and, some would argue, turned traitor.

Is he morally culpable for this? Yes. Were there enough warnings in the bible and in his conscience to make him morally culpable. Of course. Was he a traitor? some would say so.

Was Robert E Lee and honorable man and a Worthy Opponent to Grant and the Fed. Undoubtedly.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-03-2006 at 11:30 PM • top

Just a note from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

This is a difficult task to accomplish.

[18] Posted by El Jefe on 07-04-2006 at 04:09 AM • top

DO, does the Shepherd come to the rescue before OR after He hears the sound of piteous bleats (repentance) when the sheep is distressed, realizes it is lost, hungry for real food instead of briars, is off the path, needy, acknowledges helplessness, knows the Shepherd is the source of help???

The Prodigal Son story would tell us that the Father waits and the Shepherd is also waiting to hear the bleats before He can rescue.  Our will is never violated by God, no matter how much He loves and longs to save us.  Sheep must be first be willing to bleat.

[19] Posted by Theodora on 07-04-2006 at 04:45 AM • top

Sarah -

Biblically speaking, it appears that those considered “worthy” have an obedient heart for the Lord, are deemed worthy by Believing God and following his commandments, or are made worthy by accepting the Free Gift of Faith in Jesus Christ. You appear to be using a more secular definition of the word “worthy” as you describe your opponents, who have sadly rejected the authority of Holy Scripture and refused to affirm that Jesus Christ is the Way the Truth and the Life and the Only Way to the Father.

Jesus captures the essence of the word in Matthew 10:38

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

It is true that we are all made in the image of God and that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

God Loves Every Person and desires not the Death of a Sinner but rather that he should repent and live. It is in repentance and Faith in Jesus Christ that one becomes worthy, biblically speaking. Our opponents are “beloved” by God and, as George Gray preached to us in his sermon today,we are called to Love our Enemies. Perhaps we should refer to them as our “beloved” opponents.

Again, the Victory has been won. Walk in it!

Happy Independence Day!!! 

Here are a “few” scriptures on the subject. I believe this is a fairly exhaustive list from Biblegateway.  I selected those which dealt with ordinary people. (In other words, the many references to the Worthiness of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, are omitted.)

1 Kings 1:52
And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.”

Matthew 10:11
And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.

Matthew 10:13
And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.

Matthew 10:37
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:38
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 22:8
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.

Luke 3:16
John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Luke 7:6
And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.

Luke 15:21
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Luke 20:35
but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage,

Acts 5:41
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

Ephesians 4:1
[ Unity in the Body of Christ ] I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Philippians 1:27
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Colossians 1:10
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:12
we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.


2 Thessalonians 1:5
[ The Judgment at Christ’s Coming ] This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering

2 Thessalonians 1:11
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 (in Context) 2 Thessalonians 1 (Whole Chapter)


Revelation 3:4
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:3-5 (in Context) Revelation 3 (Whole Chapter)

[20] Posted by stancase on 07-04-2006 at 05:06 AM • top

stancase,

I don’t think that Sarah is arguing that our Worthy Opponents are “worthy” in God’s sight, no one is worthy in that sense.

I think she means worthy in that though fallen and sinful and, in this case, willfully and culpably self-blinded, some of them, like some of, us are honorable and capable warriors…ie Robert E Lee.

[21] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-04-2006 at 05:34 AM • top

Thanks Matt.

I will go with “Capable” Opponents.

And I agree with the assessment that Robert E. Lee was a worthy,  honorable and capable warrior.

Finally, however, I must qualify your statement to the effect that no one is “worthy” in God’s sight. The quote just before your comment (from the Revelation) said that there were a few names in Sardis who had not soiled their garments and will walk with Jesus in White, for they are “worthy”. If Jesus says it. It is True. On the Day of Judgment, the People of the Lord Jesus Christ will be found “worthy” in the Sight of God because of Faith in Jesus, the shedding of His precious blood on the Cross, and His Resurrection to eternal life. His people will have life everlasting.  This is the Gospel! And Thanks be to God for His Eternal Truth!  Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain!!!!!

As the old hymn says, “It is so good to Trust in Jesus, just to take him at his Word.” Also, As my Grandmother used to say, It sounds so simple, but the smartest people in the World do not understand it.

[22] Posted by stancase on 07-04-2006 at 06:03 AM • top

But we are not at all worthy in ourselves. We are “counted” worthy only by virtue of His worthiness or righteousness that covers us, to use Luther’s description, like snow covers dung.

[23] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-04-2006 at 06:06 AM • top

Which means that, if we are to use your slant on the word “worthy” we must apply it only to those who are believers in EVERY context. There is then no such thing as a Worthy opponent in any field of combat or sport or endeavor unless he or she is a believer?

I think this throws us into category confusion and so I reassert my original point: Sarah was speaking of a human sort of worthiness not the sort of worthiness that we have before God by virtue of Christ (and that none of us has in ourselves). In that sense, in the Robert E Lee sense, some of our opponents are worthy.

[24] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-04-2006 at 06:10 AM • top

Matt—We Agree! A “human sort” of Worthiness is obviously what Sarah is referring to. This should satisfy Tony as well!

And again, Thank You and Sarah For your hard work.

I spent several hours this morning considering your observations pertaining to (in my words) the need for the Common Cause alliance to stay focused on the “Christian Unity” which is found only in the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a biblical unity in proclaiming the Gospel to a sin sick world that is very different from the False Gospel of Inclusion which our “capable” opponents espouse.

But I may be in the wrong “comment column” for these observations. But then again, perhaps not.

Again, Happy Independence Day!  I hope to Find some Barbecue at my Neighbor’s House Shortly.

May the Lord Bless You and Yours Today!

Stan

[25] Posted by stancase on 07-04-2006 at 06:36 AM • top

Stan makes the biblical case well and I agree with his case!

[26] Posted by Tony on 07-04-2006 at 07:45 AM • top

Then you agree with Sarah and I too, as does stan?

[27] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-04-2006 at 07:46 AM • top

In reference to RE Lee, you’ll never hear me call him unworthy.  I do like the term capable better than worthy since it carries less moral baggage.

[28] Posted by Tony on 07-04-2006 at 07:47 AM • top

Agree on what?

[29] Posted by Tony on 07-04-2006 at 07:48 AM • top

“We agree! A human sort of worthiness is obviously what Sarah is referring to. This should satisfy Tony as well…”

[30] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-04-2006 at 07:49 AM • top

I think that word worthy leads to category confusion, which is the point I have been trying to make.  This is why I think capable is better.

[31] Posted by Tony on 07-04-2006 at 07:50 AM • top

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion
may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic
chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to
every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell
the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the
better angels of our nature.”

I don’t think the terms enemies works well in the context of the ecusa crisis.  Some on the other side are friends, but that doesn’t get at the issue.  The problem is false teaching and the promotion of sinful behavior.  The problem is in some cases non-believers functioning in offices of Christian leadership.  If they are enemies, they are enemies of the cross.

[32] Posted by Tony on 07-04-2006 at 07:54 AM • top

This is the heart of our disagreement. Worthy extends to several categories. There is a moral worthiness to our adversaries despite the fact that they are morally wrong in their stance in the same way there was a moral worthiness to Robert E Lee despite the fact that he was morally wrong in his defense of the southern states.

Both are culpable, but both can also be worthy.

And not just in the sense of “capable”. Lee was more than just a capable general, he was an honorable man.

The same can be true for those who oppose us. 

Not worthy before God of course, none can be, but worthy in the “honorable sense.

[33] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-04-2006 at 07:56 AM • top

Matt, I am coming closer to agreeing with you (and Sarah), but I can list a number of folks on the other side that I don’t consider worthy as in honorable, starting with the present PB (once my diocesan bishop).  I’m sure that the other side could say that same about our side.  I certainly don’t see any, ANY RE Lee’s on the left.

[34] Posted by Tony on 07-04-2006 at 08:09 AM • top

Bro. Matt, for the first time in history I will have to disagree with you.  General Robert E. Lee was not morally guilty of anything.  He supported The Cause because he believed it was right and I think it was also.  We saw Ted Kenedy coming and states rights was the main argument.  Slavery was not the issue, although it gave later in the war a moral issue that was grasped.  Slavery was on its way out anyhow, and ninty percent of the southerners owned no slave.  Many were against it.  General Grants wife owned slaves and didn’t free them until after the war. It was God’s will for the South to loose, probably because of slavery and so we could fight WWII as a strong unified nation.  It built strength of character and religious stamina in us not found in other parts of the country.  So it was for our good also.  I realize you are a yankee and haven’t been taught about this and I am an unreconstructed southerner.  Gen. Lee’s last message to his troops is informative and moving.  At the surrender, Grant did not take Lee’s sword as was customary.  He let the troops keep their horses so they could get home.  BTW Gen Lee was a very devout Episcopalian and wrote some great devotional and even theological writtings.  He was the president of Washington and Lee University in is later years.  He was a great, worthy, ahd honerable man and Christian.  Just had to get that off my chest.  Now back to the heresy that you are all wrestling with.  Deo Vindice

[35] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 07-06-2006 at 02:38 PM • top

I have always liked Sarah’s term ‘worthy opponents’, and by worthy, I considered them: calculating, organized, deliberate, skilled, etc.  They are opponents, because they oppose the true Gospel. 

Whether they are children of God, I do not know, only God does. (John 1:12)  But, they are made in the image of God, as I am, and therefore they deserve my respect.

Although the true enemy is Satan, they are serving him rather than our Lord, therefore they are my enemies too.  That being said, we need to (and I do) love them, as Christ instructed us.  We don’t have to approve of what they are doing.

[36] Posted by Lisa on 07-08-2006 at 10:24 AM • top

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.


Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere about the crisis in our church. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments that you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm, its board of directors, or its site administrators.