Thew Forrester’s Theology Compared with the Nicene Creed

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan* TheologyChristology

19 Comments
Posted March 31, 2009 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Karen B. wrote:

This is a very helpful compilation.  I am thankful for the dedication of those who spent so much time in organizing all this material. 

Someone who listened to Thew Forrester’s Easter sermon, which is one of the linked sermons in this compilation, sent me a transcript they’d produced a week or so ago.  (That might be worth posting on the blogs, I know it’s been circulated around…)  The sermon was tragic to listen to because it contained no hope of Jesus’ resurrection and victory over sin, death and hell.  In fact, Forrester
equated the resurrection with death. 

Here’s the key section of the Easter sermon in my opinion:

[Forrester is talking initially about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness before moving to talking about the cross]  And resurrection begins to happen.  And it takes Him to the only place it can take him, and it takes Him to the place we will all meet one day when we are on our death bed.  It takes Him to letting go of His body.

There is one thing every human being identifies with.  Some of us may not identify with power, or being unique, or beautiful, or smart, but we all identify with this body.  And it is a lovely body, isn’t it?  This body we have, this is a lovely body.  And the cross is all about giving up this body.  It’s all about giving up the taste of our lover’s kiss on our lips.  That is a real loss.  It is all about letting go of the hand of a child and yours and mine.  That is a real loss.  And Jesus says “I will give that up because I love you, and because I love my God, the beloved.”  And as He dies on the cross He is resurrected.  He is resurrected.  He is a new man.  He is a new human being.

 
Did you catch that?  AS HE DIES He is resurrected.  The resurrection is about DEATH, not victory OVER death.  Wow.

March 31, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
2. Cennydd wrote:

UGH!

March 31, 3:36 pm | [comment link]
3. KevinBabb wrote:

After years of division, I think that the Reverend Mr. Thew Forrester might be uniting the Church on at least one issue.  I am not hearing any support for confirmation of his election outside of Northern Michigan, and some critical words (and negative votes) are coming from surprising quarters in the Church. 

I don’t know that the current over-and-under would be on confirmation of this man’s election to the episcopate, but I can’t believe it would be favorable towards confirmation.

March 31, 3:54 pm | [comment link]
4. Katherine wrote:

Karen B, following up on your #1, if Jesus’s death was the big deal, then what would Forrester think was special about him?  We ALL die to this present physical condition.  What would make Jesus special, in his view?  I have the same problem with the Muslim view of Jesus as a miracle-working prophet (who was not crucified, in their teaching).  WHY did he come?  WHY did he perform miracles?  They have no satisfactory answer, and Forrester would appear to have no answer to WHY Jesus’s death mattered.

March 31, 4:26 pm | [comment link]
5. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

In reduction, Karen, the implication of his words are that all that died was and is the body. 
And then he mixes in the Song of Songs to illustrate the power and depth of physical/emotional love (all of them - eros, storge, phileo, and something of agape). 
I’ll say this - he has the ability to weave together almost eclectically a variety of biblical themes.  It would seem he’s attempting to provide a biblical ‘cord’, perhaps even an umbilical cord showing only God’s words of love and affection for his creation - all we need do is hold onto the cord and we will be carried along by that love until we are ushered into a new existence.  And as with the Syriac gospel implications he made, he will go to great lengths to show which group of believers has accurately been impressed and interpreted this same hyper-positive message and spirituality.
It is, dare I say, almost hypnotic.  And dangerously veering, to the point of near impossible metanoia.  I do believe, however, the inspired validity of Paul’s verse, that God, working through us, can accomplish even what we consider impossible.  Intentional obfuscation?  Probably not.  Probably the logical end and sum of his training, a strong pastoral drive, the personal crisis of faith, and the Enemy’s work of managing to get one foot into a wrong boat.
Isn’t that the case with all of us?  The spiritual battle is strong and we all have fallen short from time to time.  And then by God’s grace, alone, through fellowship and accountability, through scripture reading and prayer, we see the right path.  But then we need to get back on that path!
He needs to wake up and smell the sulfur, before the sulfur wakes him up.
What response might he make to make it crystal clear (thinking of the new Jerusalem, of course) even to himself his divergence?

March 31, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
6. mannainthewilderness wrote:

“And it is a lovely body, is it?  This body we have, this is a lovely body.” — Not much of a gospel for those whose bodies suffer the ravages of disease, paralysis, or other weaknesses.  Now, the body we are promised . . . I hope and pray that lovely does not begin to describe it.

March 31, 6:10 pm | [comment link]
7. dawson wrote:

2 Peter 2:1 I can only pray that this man will not advance and further fracture the church.

March 31, 6:32 pm | [comment link]
8. Philip Snyder wrote:

It sounds like +Forrester needs to meet this person
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkO40uHGZUo
(grin)
YBIC,
Phil Snyder

March 31, 7:53 pm | [comment link]
9. Chris wrote:

Kevin Babb, that is interesting info - but to be specific, do you know what the dioceses of Mass., NY, Ndewark, DC, California, LA (i.e. the leading liberal bastions in ECUSA) say about this?  Is that to whom you are referring?  Would be fascinating to see them buck what appears to be 815’s desired outcome….

March 31, 8:09 pm | [comment link]
10. John Wilkins wrote:

I don’t have much of a problem with what he says.  I don’t think the comparison is particularly interesting or helpful.  It is like comparing Latin with Algebra and assuming they would mean the same thing. 

I would ask him:

1) Is there anything particularly scandalous about the cross?
2) Does it matter that we say that the passion happened in history?
3) How does the particular event of the cross and resurrection shed light upon our current condition, or on a universal condition?
4) What are your criteria for distinguishing Christianities and other faiths?  Language, historical facticity, symbolism, intellectual assent, experience or social activity? 

Theologically, one of the main problems seems to be a universalizing, a departicularizing, of the event.  The danger is that he seems to skirt the edge of making the Apostle’s encounter a type of myth-making.

March 31, 8:30 pm | [comment link]
11. KevinBabb wrote:

Chris:

To point to one piece of evidence—see today’s report on STAND FIRM that +Gulick, Kentucky has announced that he is voting “no”.

March 31, 8:31 pm | [comment link]
12. Lutheran-MS wrote:

He will probably be your next presiding bishop.

March 31, 8:47 pm | [comment link]
13. Philip Snyder wrote:

John,
We are not, NOT, NOT, “begotten” children of God.  We never have been.  We never will be.  We are adopted children of God by virture of our death and being raised to new life in baptism.  The Resurrection did not happen on the cross, it happened in the tomb - after Jesus was dead. 
His Christology and Anthropology (as shown in these statements) alone show he is not a fit candidate for confirmation, let alone ordination as a deacon or priest and we won’t even talk about consecration as a bishop.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

March 31, 10:12 pm | [comment link]
14. John Wilkins wrote:

Philip,

I think you mean we are not begotten in the same way the Son is begotten of the Father.  True enough.  But I think scripture indicates we are children of God.  You use the word “adoption” but that seems like a metaphor that you are choosing to literalize. 

I would also say that I don’t think you are really clarifying the terms - or why Forrester is incorrect.  He is imprecise, to be sure:  there has to be a space for Holy Saturday.  However, it is impossible for a Christian, I think, to look at the cross without the hope of resurrection.  It is impossible.  Why?  Because we believe in it.  We know the ending. 

Forrester may be a little muddy, but as I tried to illustrate, it may be because he has a flawed understanding of time.  But he’s not a Muslim.  And his Buddhism is fairly thin, and looks a lot like the via negativa that has a long history in the church.

March 31, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
15. Philip Snyder wrote:

John,
I don’t think that you can square (or is that “triangle”) Forrester’s image of the Trinity with Nicean Christianity nor can you square his Christology with Chalcedon.

I don’t think this is simply kataphatic spirituality at work.  I think that he has muddled Zen Buddhism with Christianity and done violence to both spiritualities.  I also don’t think this is simply a time problem. 

To say that we are “begotten” of God is simply wrong.  We are creatures of God by nature, not children.  We become children through adoption, not by nature.  To be “begotten” of God means to have God’s life - divine life.  We do not have that until it is given to us by the Holy Spirit.
In the OT, the title “Son of God” was held to the King.  But Cristians have long taken that to really mean the “King of Kings” - Jesus.

Following Classical Mystical theology, we can’t know God.  That is the via negativa or kataphatic way.  But because we can’t know God, we are restricted to what God has chosen to reveal.  Forrester shows that he doesn’t not understand the Revelation nor does he accept it.  How can he defend the Faith of the Church if he neither understands nor accepts it?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

March 31, 11:42 pm | [comment link]
16. mig+ wrote:

In truth, Jesus returned to the disciples bodily. Jesus returns to them as an innocent man who was crucified, yet who lives on as servant and forgiving victim. He visits them (us) in His body, bearing the marks of crucifixion. He ascends His heavenly throne in His body, and amazingly keeps those same wounds.

I am also reminded of a section in Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, in which he compares the way Christian and Buddhist saints are represented in art. He comes to the conclusion, I think, that the Christian Saint is happy to inhabit his body and the Buddhist longs to escape his body.

++++++++++++++++++++++++
Orthodoxy by Gilbert K. Chesterton
VIII—The Romance of Orthodoxy
No two ideals could be more opposite than a Christian saint in a Gothic cathedral and a Buddhist saint in a Chinese temple. The opposition exists at every point; but perhaps the shortest statement of it is that the Buddhist saint always has his eyes shut, while the Christian saint always has them very wide open. The Buddhist saint has a sleek and harmonious body, but his eyes are heavy and sealed with sleep. The mediaeval saint’s body is wasted to its crazy bones, but his eyes are frightfully alive. There cannot be any real community of spirit between forces that produced symbols so different as that. Granted that both images are extravagances, are perversions of the pure creed, it must be a real divergence which could produce such opposite extravagances. The Buddhist is looking with a peculiar intentness inwards. The Christian is staring with a frantic intentness outwards. If we follow that clue steadily we shall find some interesting things.

... the Father also was a sword, which in the black beginning separated brother and brother, so that they should love each other at last.

This is the meaning of that almost insane happiness in the eyes of the mediaeval saint in the picture. This is the meaning of the sealed eyes of the superb Buddhist image. The Christian saint is happy because he has verily been cut off from the world; he is separate from things and is staring at them in astonishment. But why should the Buddhist saint be astonished at things?—since there is really only one thing, and that being impersonal can hardly be astonished at itself.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

April 1, 7:52 am | [comment link]
17. f/k/a_revdons wrote:

Forrester says in his Easter sermon - “It takes Him (Jesus) to letting go of His body.” and “...as He dies on the cross He is resurrected.  He is resurrected.  He is a new man.  He is a new human being.”

This is my major concern: Let’s set aside Buddhist influences for a moment… I may have misinterpreted his language but becoming a new human being through letting go of the body is classic Gnosticism, isn’t it? The idea here is that through dying we are liberated to a new plane of spiritual existence which he calls “resurrection.”

April 1, 8:42 am | [comment link]
18. Karen B. wrote:

Kevin Babb, I’m thinking you are right in your assessment that Forrester won’t get consents from the bishops.  From the bit of research I’ve done, of 11 bishops’ votes for which I have reasonable confirmation, votes are 10 NO votes to 1 YES vote.  Several of the NO votes are a surprise, like +Gulick and +Rickel.

April 1, 3:30 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.




Next entry (above): Honda connects Brain thoughts with robotics

Previous entry (below): Pope’s letter to Gordon Brown in full

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)