The mistake the wrong sort of Pharisee made, and St Paul’s opponents in Galatia, was to suppose Faith is some checklist thing that could be read off in advance. All we can ultimately test a proposition by are its fruit and its effects. The real tests of our most insistent Scripturally founded theological convictions are
- Fruit — what fruit does a proposition bear in the lives of those who espouse it, and how is it good news for everyone concerned, and how does it fit into God’s purposes for the peace and salvation of all?
- Effects — does it confront injustice, enrich the poor, set the prisoners free, minister healing, and turn the world upside down?
So, contemplating the future of the Anglican communion with someone who wrote to me about it from overseas, I can see a positive future, if we have the courage to go for it. It came to me this morning, like a slap across the face, in the passage Maggi Dawn’s Lent book gives for today from Isaiah 58:
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, “Here I am.”
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.