I’ve posted before on the way evangelicals and liberals have been talking past each other in the debate on homosexuality. I believe the debate needs to move from a detached moralism to the offices of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King.
At the recent Oak Hill School of Theology, Mike Ovey spoke on the fourth century Augustinian-Donatist schism. He argued that a lack of fraternal love from the Donatists and a lack of divine love from some in the Augustinian camp led to the schism. In the Donatist camp the lack of fraternal love was shown in an unwillingness to forgive and accept others who had publicly sinned, underplaying the priestly office of Christ as the one who died for all our sins, public and private. The Augustinian camp, perhaps, lacked divine love by being unwilling to confess that some traditores had sinned against God, underplaying the kingly office of Christ as the one we are accountable to. [I plan to blog my notes on Mike’s lecture soon].
Drawing parallels between then and now, the threefold office of Christ can be applied to the present situation in the Anglican communion. Evangelicals and other “orthodox” Christians have clubbed together around the issue of sexual holiness. The “orthodox” (with their otherwise mixed bag of theology, especially on justification) talk extensively on the authority of Christ as Prophet and King whilst arguably underplaying the office of High Priest. Liberals have clubbed together around inclusiveness. These liberals talk extensively, it seems, about Christ as Priest whilst neglecting language of Prophet (his words are true) and King (he rules), and so believe there is nothing to confess in areas of human sexuality.
Evangelicals, on their part, need to talk up the office of Christ as Priest and publicly recapture the language of humble confession and a great love of Christ as Saviour. “I am a sinner, God defines how I sin and I know Christ saved me from all my sins, public and private so I can joyfully live under his word and rule.” We must not give the impression that we are somehow practically holier or even more obedient than the inclusivists when in secret, or in different ways, we all flout God’s law. I might even need a liberal to tell me my moral blind spots. That’s why we all need Christ the High Priest.
Liberals on their part need to stop thinking they know better than Christ and that they’ll get away with rebelling against their King. Humble confession and a great love of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King is necessary all round if Christ is to be exalted in this generation.