Having put it off long enough, in the next post I will begin my three part series regarding the recent (non)decision regarding women in ministry at the General Assembly of the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada.
If you are not a part of the C&MA, it may be somewhat irrelevant to you, but I do welcome any perspectives "from outside." If you are a part of the C&MA, however, I would especially like to hear from you. I am trying to decide how to address my denomination, and since I have already written letters to our Board of Directors previous to Assembly I am wondering what might be a more effective way of addressing this. So I am using this forum to hone my thoughts, and maybe spread those thoughts a bit too.
At times it may read like an "open letter," because I am considering writing something of that nature to email around. I don't know. I welcome input on that. (There was a facebook group that started up but I'm the only one who has made a comment.)
So yeah, feel free to interact. But for my own benefit I need to ask us all to be gracious. I can get pretty riled up about this issue and I need you to help me keep this from being a massive mud-slinging. I do speak out of a committed love for this denomination which I have been in my whole life. I do not want to leave it. That is why I am taking this so seriously. But before I get to it (sometime next week), here are a few quotes I came across this week while researching for my phd applications. I found them to be good reminders of how to think well within the faith.
"Research is not a defense or apology of my own convictions. . . . Research seeks truth; it does not hide---for any reason---what may disagree with esteemed ideas. If the position being maintained is tenable, research can defend it; if the position is not based on truth, it is defended in vain. We cannot allow ourselves to use unsound arguments, even for a good cause. Likewise, research is not polemical. Its objective is to clearly present truth, not to fight others' positions, even if those may be erroneous." - Nancy Jean Vyhmeister, Quality Research Papers for Students of Religion and Theology, p. 5.
Now, obviously blogging is not quite the same as research (it is more conversational and often does involve defense of one's own convictions), but I am still challenged greatly by the principles put forward in these lines. Another important reminder comes to me from the example of Colin Gunton, in the introduction to his important book, The One, the Three and the Many:
"For all its unifying vision, the era of Christendom was dearly bought . . . at the expense of certain dimensions of the Christian gospel which became effectively submerged. But in reacting against Christendom, the modern world has bequeathed equal and opposite distortions of human being in the world. It is for this reason that I am attempting in the book neither to react against modernity nor slavishly to follow its lead.
Modernity is like all cultures, in being in need of the healing light of the gospel of the Son of God, made incarnate by the Holy Spirit for the perfecting of the creation. But it is unlike some in that the distinctive features of its plight derive from its rejection of that gospel, albeit for some understandable reasons. The gospel will therefore not be served by the mere denunciation of modern rejection, but by probing how it came to happen. Christianity is indeed offensive to the natural human mind; and yet it is often made offensive by its representatives for the wrong reasons."
I think the conversation that needs to take place in the C&MA in Canada has an importance that falls in line with what Gunton was trying to do, and thus needs to find some of the perspective that he and Vhymeister offer. I do not wish to overstate things, but I think this is a potential turning point in the history of the C&MA, and I feel that both the process and the outcome of this debate each in their own way sit at crossroads that could lead either to dire straits or exciting horizons.
As a member of the C&MA I can not simply sit by and leave this to fate. Too many of us have done so in the past, simply biding our time until we inherit the positions of leadership that will eventually come our way. But if we continue to do this we may not have a denomination worth inheriting. That sounds polemical, but that is an expression of what I feel is at stake here. Let's not beat around the bush here. This is what they like to call "Kingdom business."