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Fr. Timothy Fountain; Three Problems With Peace And Justice [TEC]
Drell's Descants ^ | 8/23/2006

Posted on 08/25/2006 6:38:10 PM PDT by sionnsar

Three Problems with Peace and Justice
The Rev. Timothy Fountain
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Since General Convention ’06 declared “Peace and Justice” as the top denominational priority, it is fair for a church member to ask, “What’s up?”

There are a number of problems with this priority.

1. There is no clear statement of what “peace and justice” means. It is stated as a self-evident collective singular, even though the human race has struggled for millennia to define the two words independently. There are competing ideas of “peace” and there are scads of ways to define “justice.”

Significantly, the 1979 BCP does not give a definition of “peace and justice.” The words show up (in reverse order) in the Baptismal Covenant (p. 305). The Outline of the Faith mentions them (although not in the current formula) on p. 855, under the heading “The Church”:

“Q. How does the Church pursue its mission? (Note: ‘The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.’)

A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace and love.”

Justice and peace are not in the priority position. They flow from a Christ-centered mission, prayer and worship, and are lined up behind evangelism and tempered by love. Which brings me to a second problem…

2. “Peace and Justice” is sometimes (maybe most of the time) put forward without reference to prayer, evangelism or love – in fact, this new priority is often set over/against Christian witness. GenCon put off substantial discussion of evangelism until 2009 and “discharged” Christ-centered proclamation, leaving “peace and justice” to stand alone.

The history of the last century is written in millions of people murdered under regimes proclaiming a secular path to, well, “peace and justice” or its close relative, “social justice.” Often, coercion is close at hand when this priority is announced, and Christians and others should be rightly suspicious of it given its ugly history. And speaking of lack of history…

3. The lack of established theological definition and practice makes the “peace and justice” prime directive an exercise in hypocrisy. The current vogue among “progressive” Episcopalians is to shout down any argument from the Bible with, “Our tradition has never, ever used the Bible that way!” Well, “peace and justice” has even less history as the defining language of the church. Going back to point #1, we don’t even have a working definition of the concept in our BCP – not in the less-than-a-generation-old Catechism or the older Historical Documents of the Church. A traditionalist might well complain, “Our tradition has never, ever used this formula in this way.” And progressives bellowing a justice proof text from Amos are no improvement over a fundy in a rainbow wig waving a John 3:16 placard at a football game.

And when it comes to praxis, TEC has no ground whatsoever for announcing “peace and justice” to the world. TEC is a conflicted, declining mess that ignores its own stated values or twists them (twist or bend is close to the Hebrew word for “injustice”, btw). TEC as a collective has no credible witness to anything remotely called “peace and justice.”

This is not to renounce these noble words or throw them out of church vocabulary. Church history is full of positive examples of those who sought to bring kingdom values into worldly doings. British evangelicals fought against slavery and child labor. Martin Luther King Jr. changed hearts, minds and the nation. Kate Cullinane (currently rumored an episcopal candidate) was saluted by the City of Los Angeles for her efforts toward post-riot racial and civic reconciliation. Truro Church, VA is standing up against local government and business interests on behalf of the homeless.

Current denominational leadership owes it to the faithful to define “peace and justice” from Christ-centered reference points and with some coherent definition beyond “mandated government action for groups we happen to like just now.” And, in terms of praxis, “peace and justice” has to mean more than a few graying liberals who sit around agreeing about political positions without generating actual ministry that changes hearts and social conditions for Christ. Absent Christ-centered proclamation and witness, the powers-that-be deserve their declining national influence and denominational disintegration.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant; Other non-Christian

1 posted on 08/25/2006 6:38:12 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 08/25/2006 6:38:54 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | EndOfTheWorldDay+2)
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