Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart. — Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea as a result of people’s actions, so he will make them taste (the consequences of) some of their actions, so that perhaps they will return (to righteousness). — Quran, 30.41; and
The earth lies polluted
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled,
and few people are left. — Isaiah 24.5–6
Creation groans; and we are part of creation. So let me ask: did this last week frighten you? Like we’re on the edge of a precipice? About to fall into an abyss if we don’t burn to a crisp first?
Rob Bos and Geoff Thompson have just edited Theology for Pilgrims: Selected Theological Documents of the Uniting Church in Australia, available at Vision Books. It’s a collection of key theological statements for understanding and appreciating the Uniting Church, from documents that led up to the formation of the church (The Faith of the Church; The Church: Its Nature, Function and Ordering), the Basis of Union itself (strangely, only in the 1971 text and not the 1992 text—really, would another 15 pages have been all that hard?) and many others under the headings Core Practices of the Church, Theology in Controversy and The Church’s Vocation.
In the introduction to the 1988 statement, Understanding the Church’s Teaching on Baptism, I found this little gem on p. 508:
This document is a fine example of the Uniting Church’s theological method. It acknowledges the Bible as the primary source of our theology within its original context, and then considers how this has been interpreted through the centuries in ever new contexts. The document then brings current questions into dialogue with this biblical and theological tradition in a way that illuminates the presenting issues and offers guidance to the Church, recognising that this needs to be done pastorally.
I think this sums up our method—largely not articulated—very well. I pray we can follow it with the ongoing debate on sexuality.
(Oh, and it’s much better than this theological method!)