Thursday, 18 February 2010

True Fasting: fruit and effects

If all we think and do for God is provisional, how can we discern the spirits? A theologically based poiont of view cannot be validated merely because it uses God-talk and Scripture, appeals to conventional understanding from former ages, or is passionately and sincerely held. Apartheid endorsements from the eighties were all those things, but still wrong, indeed evil.

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
  1. 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?

  2. Effects — does it confront injustice, enrich the poor, set the prisoners free, minister healing, and turn the world upside down?
Activity that is literally fruitless, or even worse, bears bad fruit — anger, clamour, wrath, rivalry, emulations, factions — will probably serve nothing but itself.

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.


Revsimmy said...

Thank you for this Alan. We will need not only courage but also self-control (one of Paul's list of fruit of the Spirit) if this positive future is to come about. The text is not enough.

Archbeship Anthony said...

Rev Simmy, Yes I agree that the text alone is not enough but surely Words are the start, of things, Yesterday I was talking to my God Son about Playing Practical Joke as he was about to play one on his sister, I was telling him that I am not against playing practical jokes on people but I do have to believe that the person I am playing it on has to Also find it humorous. My rule was the start and if he for instance does not find my joke funny and I do not pick this up, then he will need to tell me. This is where The Self control comes in as ton NOT play that joke Again. Both of us would also need courage to be enable us to talk about it to the other person.

Bishop Alan, Thanks for bringing up this passage it gives me something in the bible to read.

Many Thanks,

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