Sunday, April 29, 2007

Science, Faith, and Politics

I was watching CSPAN today and came across a discussion on the “Politics of Faith.” Of course I was interested in the topic and decided to watch for a few moments. After hearing about five minutes of comments I had to turn off the program. One of the authors opined that there was a conspiracy going on between corporate America and evangelical Christianity—if you can convince the dimwitted employees of Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart that they are “right with Jesus” and that He will take care of you, you can pay them bad wages and terminate their jobs. This is why, according to this particular author, that these companies have chaplains.

Another author frothed that America was one of the only countries in the world that has a “faith based” approach to abortion and stem-cells. Another railed that Americans love the benefits of technology gained via science, but they don’t want to embrace the very foundation of science itself: Darwinism! This last point would be a surprise to many chemists and physicists that I know! To my mind, and to the minds of many scientists, the foundation of modern science is not Darwinism, but the belief in a rational, coherent, and orderly world that can be at least be partially dissected by the mind of man. Without this presupposition, the practice of science makes no sense.

In the background I could hear the echo of the late Christopher Reeve: “When matters of public policy are debated, no religions should have a seat at the table." People with moral convictions based upon religious principle, you see, are too moronic to seriously think about these issues objectively. It is this parody, this horrible caricature of religious belief, that offends so many Christians—perhaps it is the reason Christians are not even invited to discussions such as these, for fear they couldn’t stop drooling long enough to issue a coherent verbal utterance. This is not the manner of Christianity most classical Anglicans know, if they are familiar with the writings of C.S. Lewis, Thomas Aquinas, William Temple, G.K. Chesterton, or the philosophical writings of modern Roman Catholic thinkers such as John Paul II and Pope Benedict and Reformed thinkers like Alvin Plantinga.

It is from philosophic and theological foundations that science operates, and since these foundations grew within the Christian tradition and gave rise to modern science it is the Christian tradition that must have a seat at the table when the moral issues raised by science and its applications are addressed. From these very foundations we believe in an ordered creation with man as the creature with the intellect to uncover such order; we also believe in the inherent dignity of man. This is really the major problem for the CSPAN authors alluded to above—Christians believe in the dignity of human beings at all stages of development. As long as it is human and living, it has value and worth. Yes, this is a conviction based on religion and philosophy. But how is the conviction that an embryo or a fetus does not have value any different? How is this any less a philosophical or religious position? I have yet to hear that issue addressed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Risen Christ.

A short homily for Easter Week.

We join together in this Easter season to celebrate the new life we have in the Risen life of Jesus Christ.

Our faith, the faith that we profess in the Creeds and in the Articles of Religion, the faith revealed, handed down, and taught to us in the holy Scriptures, is a faith grounded in the Trinity, embedded in the Incarnation, rooted in the Cross, and given full life and sustenance in the Resurrection of Christ from the grave.

Without the Resurrection, the Cross and the Incarnation lose their meaning, for our faith is not in a dead Christ, not in a Christ of memory, but in a living Christ, a Messiah who conquered sin and death and lives and reigns and makes intercession on our behalf. It is only because Christ lives that we have a new life and a new relationship with God the Father. It is through Christ alone that we are given redemption.

In that we have been buried with Christ and raised with Him, now belonging to Him and to His Body, the Church, We must seek to be that body, the Body of Christ Jesus here on earth--a living, redeemed humanity. Organs and limbs of His Body, no longer belonging to ourselves but to Christ, submitting ourselves to His will and to His purpose.

We must seek to be the Body of Christ at all times and in all places, not just within the walls of the church building on Sunday morning, because the Body of Christ is not confined to that time nor to that place. We should seek to be the Body of Christ in every moment, always seeking to be guided by His Word, for He is our living Head. Without our being joined to Christ we are nothing more than dying cells, without organization or real function.

It is only in the light and hope of the Resurrection faith that we can live with meaning, with true purpose, reaching out to a world that hungers for the truth and love of the Gospel of Christ.

When we teach the importance of peace, we must be true to the Christian Gospel—we are not simply teaching an absence of conflict, the cessation of hostility—rather we must teach a true peace rooted in the heart of every person, a peace that can only be found in the Blood of the Christ and the self-giving love of God for His redeemed people.

The world must be shown that the embrace of the true diversity of ethnicities and cultures must be grounded in the common truth of the Gospel of Christ and all it teaches.

When cries for justice are heard by Christians, the answer to these cries must be rooted in the power of the Cross and the Resurrection, and the teachings of the Incarnate Son of God.

When forgiveness is given, it must be given in the love of Christ. There is no cheap grace. As God forgave us, so should we forgive others who come to us with penitent hearts.

When we speak of the dignity of humanity and of human rights, these can only be worthy of action and can only make a claim to truth if they flow from the truth that each human life is created in the image of God, and that it was this humanity that God saw fit to redeem by the Blood of Christ, raised again with Him on that Sunday morning in the glory of the empty tomb.

Without the Resurrection, all of these teachings and endeavors are meaningless. Our hope and our faith are a Resurrection hope and faith; our Head is a living Head, and the body of which we are parts is a living Body.

Let us affirm this day our faith in the living Lord, and confess with Job when he proclaims:

I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed; * O come, let us adore him. Alleluia!

CHRIST our Passover is sacrificed for us: * therefore let us keep the feast, Not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; * but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Cor. 5:7
CHRIST being raised from the dead dieth no more; * death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: * but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, * but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 6:9
CHRIST is risen from the dead, * and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, * by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, * even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor. 15:20
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

From the Holy Communion of 1549:

Christ our Pascal lamb is offered up for us, once for all, when he bare our sins on his body upon the cross, for he is the very Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world: wherfore let us kepe a joyful and holy feast with the Lord.