Sermons 2003-2004

Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

<DIV><FONT color=#000066 size=3>Proper 29B, Pentecost Last, Christ the King&nbsp; &nbsp;John 18:33-37 <BR><BR>In November 1859, an Englishman named Charles Darwin published a book that shortly became both famous and infamous. It was titled "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". In 1871 Darwin published another bombshell, "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex". Needless to say, Darwin's theories, bolstered by decent scientific observations and data, greatly upset the world of religion and the theological enterprise. <BR><BR>Theres a humorous and probably apocryphal story about the reaction to the Origin of the Species here in Virginia within several years after its publication. The scene was the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Robert E. Lee. Two raggedy soldiers are sitting by a campfire cooking their supper in the evening, and they are arguing about Darwins theories of evolution and the descent of man. <BR><BR>One of the seasoned veterans gave the other one a hard look and said, "Well, you probably descended from a ape, and I might have descended from a ape. But I tell you this for sho nuff, General Lee, he didnt descend from no ape!" (source unknown) <BR><BR>It is interesting to note that this debate still continues into the 21st Century, with the education of our children as the battleground. The issue is whether science is to be taught according to the doctrines of creationism or according the Darwin and subsequent archaeological evidence. And so I want to take up the teaching Magisterium on Christ the King Sunday and then let it rest until sometime later in the new year. <BR><BR>I have noticed in various discussions taking place over the past several months that there seems to be a good deal of confusion between, among, and about the terms dogma, doctrine, and theology. Mystery as well enters into a good bit of this discussion, for, truly, there are some things that cannot be satisfactorily defined by dogma, doctrine, theology not by any part of the theological enterprise. But I will hold that for another time -- like Trinity Sunday. <BR><BR>I want to distinguish here between theology and the theological enterprise in this way: dogma, doctrine, and theology are the fruit, the result of the theological enterprise, the theological enterprise involves the study of the ancient texts and languages in which the Holy Scriptures were written and an intensive engagement with them, an asking of questions and a seeking of answers, prayer for insight and knowledge and understanding, and an openness to revelation, with a view toward development of dogma, doctrine, and a body of theological literature and thought. <BR><BR>Within the theological enterprise, dogma, doctrine, and theology have particular meanings and importance. <BR>Dogma, by the end of the 19th Century, came to have the particular and precise meaning of 1. a divinely revealed truth, 2. proclaimed as such by solemn church teaching, and 3. binding now and forever on the faithful. (Westminster Dictionary of Theology, p 162) <BR>For Anglicans there is only one dogma that fits this definition: Jesus Christ is Lord, about which more later. <BR><BR>There are some doctrines, solemnly proclaimed by the Great Councils of the church which have nearly the status of dogmas and are often, perhaps usually, called dogmas but do not have the unquestioned and unquestionable status of Jesus Christ is Lord. One of the most familiar of these is the classical formulation of the Council of Nicea in 451 AD of the one person of Jesus Christ in two natures, one fully divine and one fully human -- also a mystery. <BR><BR>Before going on to doctrine, it might be best to unpack the dogma, Jesus Christ is Lord: Iesous Christous kyrios. One of the preliminary ways to determine the importance of a word or term in Scripture is the frequency with which it is used. The term usually translated into English as Lord is used in the Old Testament for God, either as Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH for Yahweh, approximately 7500 times, and is used as such in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. Kyrios is used for Jesus in the New Testament approximately 600 times. (No, I didnt count all of these one by one; using a standard reference concordance in this case, Youngs -- I took a column, figured a rough average by line entries, and did the math by the number of columns.) <BR><BR>As used over the centuries in the ancient Judaic, Greco-Roman, and New Testament world, kyrios came to mean both king (Greek basileus, an earthly monarch, the term used by Pontius Pilate in the John passage for today, Christ the King Sunday, but NOT used by Jesus of himself) both king and something much much more. By the time of Jesus on earth, kyrios came to be used in close connection with theos (God or god) in both the Judeo-Christian and pagan worlds, such as the emperor worship of the Roman Empire, which caused all sorts of problems in ancient Palestine. <BR><BR>The use of the term kyrios by a human being for God, and God in Christ, that is, Jesus, sets forth a strongly differentiated relationship between God and the human being. It is something akin to the I-thou relationship set forth by the earlier 20th Century Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber: God as kyrios, Lord, Master, and Owner of the human being in the relationship to which the human can respond only with his or her whole being. And implicit in this relationship is the human being as the doulos, the slave or servant of the kyrios. The lordship of God is theos kyrios basileus of the created world and its history God is the God who acts in human history and who, more than any human king, has absolute authority and dominion over what he has created. (Gerhard Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, III, pp 1050, 1052, 1085, 1099-1090.) <BR><BR>The best sense of this is in the Pauline corpus in Ephesians 2:5-11: <BR><BR>Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, <BR>6 who, though he was in the form of God, <BR>did not regard equality with God <BR>as something to be exploited, <BR>7 but emptied himself, <BR>taking the form of a slave, <BR>being born in human likeness. <BR>And being found in human form, <BR>8 he humbled himself <BR>and became obedient to the point of death-- <BR>even death on a cross. <BR>9 Therefore God also highly exalted him <BR>and gave him the name <BR>that is above every name, <BR>10 so that at the name of Jesus <BR>every knee should bend, <BR>in heaven and on earth and under the earth, <BR>11 and every tongue should confess <BR>that Jesus Christ is Lord, <BR>to the glory of God the Father. <BR><BR>And so the great dogma of Christianity: Iesous Christous Kyrios. But what of doctrine? There is an overlap: dogma can be considered part of doctrine but dogma is that part of doctrine not subject to debate or change. <BR><BR>From the Westminster Dictionary of Theology: <BR>"Doctrine means teaching. In Christian tradition the word is used in a broad sense to describe the whole body of Christian teaching, or in a narrower sense to describe what Christians believe about particular aspects of their faith: the doctrine of God, human nature and destiny, Christ, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the church, [the Trinity] and the like. Christian doctrine is not the object of Christian faith. Christians do not believe in this or that doctrine or doctrinal system but in God. Nevertheless, doctrines and doctrinal systems are the result of their attempt to reflect rationally about the God in whom they believe and thus to explain and defend their faith and way of life. <BR><BR>"All Christians agree that the original statement of Christian doctrine is found in the Bible. But the history of the church is (among other things) the history of the doctrinal interpretation of scripture by preachers, teachers, and theological scholars speaking for themselves; and by church leaders, councils, and assemblies speaking for a whole Christian body. From the beginning Christians and Christian traditions have differed in their understanding of the relationship between biblical teaching, the doctrinal interpretations of individual thinkers, and the official doctrinal formulations (dogmas) of the church." (Westminster Dictionary of Theology, p 161.) <BR><BR>This diversity in doctrinal interpretation of scripture is the very essence of the theological enterprise in action. It is particularly and especially true of the theological enterprise in Anglicanism, where no one set of views is allowed to eliminate or dominate another set of theological views as long as the essential dogma Jesus Christ is Lord remains inviolate. <BR><BR>For instance, what the neo-orthodox would call the fluff of Tillich's existential theology and such of its concepts of God as the ground of all being is still a part of our theological enterprise. And so is the neo-orthodoxy of those who follow Karl Barth's emphasis on the centrality of Jesus and freedom of will in all aspects of life and practice of the faith something more liberal theologians sometimes might find simplistic and anti-intellectual. And before them the ancient church fathers, particularly Augustine, and later figures such as Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Soren Kierkegaard theologians too numerous to name whose work remains a significant part of the theological enterprise today. <BR><BR>Some of us may remember the God is dead theological movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It had its moment of attention and then died away. But it was valuable because it required other theologians and believers, liberal, traditional, and conservative alike, to rethink their own theological enterprises and strengthen them in order to counter it. As much as I found the God is dead theology shallow and threatening, we are better of for having had to deal with it. And of course, it died in the end because it violated the central dogma of all Christians, Jesus Christ is Lord. <BR><BR>So its OK as far as it goes to say, as I overheard someone say the other day, "I'm more comfortable with fill in the blank for -- church, denomination, preacher, whatever with their or his or her theology, it's more like my theology." But it is a rather uninspiring and boring place when we all think the same about God, about Jesus Christ is Lord. That just puts God in box. And that means the death of the theological enterprise. And our understanding of God, small and insignificant as it is already, will become even less. The theological enterprise thrives on diversity the work of all sorts and conditions of people. <BR>AMEN <BR></FONT></DIV>