Susan Buchanan: The Gospel Agenda

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Can we similarly find God already at work, and choose not to hinder that within our own lives and our own faith communities? “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Can we see the full inclusion of blacks as not “the Black Agenda” but rather “the Gospel Agenda”? Can we see God at work in the lives and ministries of women, and support it, recognizing “the Gospel Agenda” rather than “the Feminist Agenda”? Can we recognize holiness of life and the working of the Spirit in the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, and welcome their presence and their ministries as part of “the Gospel Agenda” rather than “the Gay Agenda?”

It’s not an easy place to be, in many ways. Many still accuse women of having a “Feminist Agenda” when we exercise our equality in Christ. How fortunate I am that I have so many faithful Christian men speaking out on behalf of that equality for me. They help the world hear my ministry as “Gospel Agenda.” They allow me to strive to be known as a “good priest”, and not just a “female priest.” They allow me to be a minister of the Gospel. But, in doing so, they have been the target of scorn and rejection themselves, from those who cannot see my ministry as being of God.

Now it is time for me, as a straight person, to speak up. I can bear witness, like Peter, to seeing the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those whom the church has traditionally said were “unclean” and “unfit” for consideration as members of Christ’s body. I can bear witness to seeing and experiencing in my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters lives of repentance, forgiveness, and transformation through Jesus. (And “transformation” does not mean that Gentiles become Jews, blacks become whites, women become men, or gays/lesbians become straight!) I can speak out for “the Gospel Agenda” and in doing so, I hope that the gay and lesbian members of our church can be recognized as being a part of that Agenda as well. I pray that our bishop can focus on his Gospel ministry, being a “good bishop” rather than just a “gay bishop. ” It is up to you, and to me, to be like Peter and not hinder God but to welcome God’s grace in the lives of others. That, my friends, is the good news of the Gospel. That is the Gospel Agenda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Theology

11 Comments
Posted June 11, 2007 at 5:02 am

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/3551/



1. MargaretG wrote:

ethncity—yes I can see that in Galatians—male/female—yes I can see that in Galatians—homo/hetero—-wait a minute I can’t see that ... so how can she argue for that from this passage???

June 11, 5:57 am | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:

Being in Christ also means living in a certain way.  Living a life Holy to the Lord.  What she seems to be describing is people who claim to be in Christ yet live as they please and do what ever they want.  She is using a lot of Christian terms, but I thinik she has changed the meanings of them.

June 11, 6:12 am | [comment link]
3. Philip Snyder wrote:

The Gospel Agenda is to incorporate all people in the the Body of Christ and reconcile them to God through Jesus Christ.  There is no agenda beyond this.

However, we will not incorporate those who do not want to be incorporated - whether slave or free, male or female, Jew or Greek, gay or straight.  If you don’t want to be part of God’s Kingdom, then God won’t force you.  If you only want to be part of God’s Kingdom on your own terms, then you will not be a full part of God’s Kingdom.

We like to say that God loves us “unconditionally.”  I believe that is wrong in one sense.  God’s love is unmerited, but it is conditional.  To continue to receive that love comes with the condition that we will be changed and a large part of that change is that more and more of our lives must come under the control of God and be powered by His grace.

Can we “bear witness, like Peter, to seeing the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those whom the church has traditionally said were “unclean” and “unfit” for consideration as members of Christ’s body.”  I sure hope so!  The only hope I have is that God can work through the lives of sinful people because I am a sinful person.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  What we are facing today is a reverse form of Donatism.  Donatism taught that God could not work through sinful people.  What TECUSA and others are trying to teach us today is the reverse of that.  Their reasoning goes “We see evidence of grace and new life in people engaged in homosexual sex.  Therefore, homosexual sex must not be a bar to grace and new life therefore it must not be sinful.”  That sounds good, but it can be said for all sins.  I see the evidence of grace and new life in people who commit adultery, gluttony, in the wrathful, slothful, prideful, etc.  God continues to work through sinful people to reconcile all sinful people to Himself through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The difference here is that there is a group of people who want their sinful behavior to be blessed and be called “good.”  That is something the Church does not have the authority to do!

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 11, 8:04 am | [comment link]
4. Peter dH wrote:

This is such lazy, facile theology.

How can you speak of “those whom the church has traditionally said were “unclean” and “unfit” for consideration as members of Christ’s body” without acknowledging the subversive strand in Christianity through the ages insisting that the entrance requirement to the body is precisely being a sinner? Susan seems to have lost this. She takes pride in receiving the broken not as broken, but as whole; the sinners not as sinners, but as saints. This error is the precise opposite of those churches who insist on (apparent) holiness before receiving someone as member.

How can you speak of ”“transformation” does not mean that Gentiles become Jews, blacks become whites, women become men”, then continue with “or gays/lesbians become straight” as if there is no call to repentance to be found as well? The gospel is ultimately one of redemption and affirmation of humanity, but that does not imply affirmation of all that we do or have become. We live in a broken world. Jesus called holiness holiness and sin sin, sheep he called sheep and goats goats. Sure, we love to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and make our own judgments, but that is precisely the problem: the distinction is not ours to make, but God’s. I’m a social liberal at heart and would love to accept the sexual expression of my gay and lesbian friends. But I have to trust that God has his theology sorted better than I do. Susan seems to have lost this, too, in a gospel of universal affirmation which is driven by culturally conditioned insights and judgments more than the gospel Jesus lived and died to bring.

June 11, 8:20 am | [comment link]
5. john scholasticus wrote:

#2

Br.M, were you so shocked by my posting (on the Bauckham thread) that you couldn’t respond?

June 11, 8:57 am | [comment link]
6. Br. Michael wrote:

No.  I have heard that before.  Don’t you think that instead of Jesus getting it wrong, the disciples and early Church got it wrong?

June 11, 9:45 am | [comment link]
7. john scholasticus wrote:

Br.M

Tried to reply - got ‘wiped’. No time at present (marking). Best wishes.

June 11, 9:52 am | [comment link]
8. Br. Michael wrote:

I don’t wan’t to hijack this thread, but I thought your response was honest and I have a better idea where you are coming from.  It was a good post.  I still disagree, but we can pick up the discussion when the issue comes up on another thread.  Oh, and point accepted on being to dismissive.

June 11, 9:55 am | [comment link]
9. Milton wrote:

Oh well, Galatians 3:28 misinterpreted for the 3,469th time!

June 11, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
10. ruidh wrote:

Yeah, I don’t see that she used the word “wrong” anywhere. AFAICT, the Apostles practiced exactly what she’s talking about. It was a few hundred years later that the public role of women in the church was suppressed by the Greeks.

June 11, 12:10 pm | [comment link]
11. john scholasticus wrote:

#8

Thanks.

June 11, 2:55 pm | [comment link]


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