Monday, June 14, 2010

The Heart of God Hasn't Place for Boundaries

As "progressive" bloggers continue to throw fits over the Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost letter and the follow-up actions announced by the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon (Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office), one response in particular caught my attention. It's from the blog of the Rev. Francisco Silva, Secretary General of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil:

In our Provincial Synod, we heard from the mouth of our Archbishop Mauricio that in the heart of God hasn't place for boundaries. Our delegates approved unanimously a motion of solidarity with brothers and sisters from TEC and Canada and a letter to the Communion will be issued about punitive actions gone to Provinces who has been looking to welcome all the persons without barriers and prejudices.

" ... the heart of God hasn't place for boundaries."

I'm hoping that there are some issues of translation from Portuguese into English going on here, because this is a troubling statement. It effectively collapses the distinction between boundaries and barriers, which in turn tosses the community-building and sustaining role of norms out the window. I've written about the critical importance of boundaries and norms before:

... it is not possible to form and sustain the common purpose and vision of genuine community without shared norms to which all members are accountable. And so the concern for norms, rules, and discipline derives from a concern for the conditions that make it possible for us to be the Church in the first place. Indeed, until the issue of shared norms and accountability to them is settled, it is not possible to get on with the work God calls us to do in the world. Lacking clear norms, we spend all of our time negotiating or arguing about how we’re supposed to be doing what we’re called to do. We get sidetracked from the focus on mission. ...

Boundaries are not barriers. But without norms that establish boundaries, the self-differentiation necessary for creating community can’t happen. And the term “Church” collapses into a projection of individual preferences and interests that set the stage for competing wills to power rather than cooperation among diverse members of a common Body.

The Book of Common Prayer's catechism notes that, in biblical terms, the requirements of living in covenant relationship take the form of commandments: the Ten Commandments in the Old Covenant, and the Summary of the Law and the New Commandment in the New Covenant (cf. BCP, pp. 846-848, 850-851). At the heart of biblical faith is a God who, by issuing commands, establishes boundaries and invites us to live into those boundaries and the norms for behavior they entail in relation to both God and our neighbor.

So how utterly bizarre to say that "the heart of God hasn't place for boundaries." Coupled with the Presiding Bishop's proclamation that "Pentecost continues!", such a statement comes dangerously close to affirming that anything is possible or potentially permissible. Surely Archbishop Mauricio and Fr. Silva do not intend to endorse such a scenario.

1 comment:

George said...

I think your concerns are justified and will prove to be a reality.