Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Help! The Romans are Coming!

World Youth Day will soon be here, and the Sydney Anglican machine is getting nervous about the looming Roman Catholic invasion. Or at least that’s what a confidential report to the clergy of Sydney’s George’s River region suggests, a copy of which just happens to have been leaked to the notorious Duck Noodle Gang. So now “confidential” probably isn’t such a good description any more; how about trying “idiotic” instead?

After an introductory quote lifted from the WYD web site explaining the event’s aims, things quickly move into attack mode:

“… there is a clear targeting of those already baptised (presumably as Roman Catholics). Note also the centrality of the sacraments and not the gospel of Jesus as we understand it.”

Well gee Cromwell: maybe that’s because they’re Roman Catholics? So might it kind of figure they’ll be more interested in Catholic perspectives than they are in presenting yours?

”Again note how while this gives the appearance of orthodoxy, the ‘ultimate witness’ stated here is more in line with the theory of the atonement stated by Peter Abelard - the moral influence view, which falls short of a comprehensive Biblical view of the cross.”

He doesn’t get it, does he? Roman Catholic theology and thought has been influenced by Catholic theologians - that’s kind of obvious for most people. Does he expect they’ll be quoting the latest tract from Matthias Media?

Still, Sydney diocese’s current obsession with theories of the atonement is interesting, given that when I was a student at Moore College “Atonement” was a 4th year elective only very few of us bothered with. This may have now changed, but there’s a whole generation of clergy out there who have never formally studied any of the alternatives to the official penal-substitutionary atonement party line. They may be quick to condemn alternate (or complementary) theories, but it's a certain bet most of them have little or no understanding of what they are – nor of the Biblical foundations upon which these theories were developed.

Abelard’s theology of “moral influence’ is actually central to neo-puritan piety – what Sydney convention is complete without a hearty rendition of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”? This evangelical standard, along with much of the contemporary musical canon, is theologically far closer to Abelard than to Calvin – something easily overlooked when you’ve no idea of what Abelard actually said, nor why he said it.

”The music and the video clips are appealing and sufficiently ecumenical to fool anyone who does not think too hard about what they are a part of. This thought is reinforced by the fact that WYD seems to be militantly NOT using the title Roman Catholic World Youth Day. Moreover, one of their FAQ’s makes it clear that their invitation is to all youth. ”

Damn these sneaky Roman marketers: the Jesuits must be behind this one. How dare they invite ”all youth”! And note the depths to which they’ll descend in the process of this evil inclusivity: they’re even prepared to mislead the simple by “militantly” abbreviating the event’s title. Not like us - that’s why our outreach year (no manby-pamby “day” for us either) is called "Sydney-Anglican-Bible-Believing-Evangelicals-Opposed-To-Women-and-Gays-and-Lesbians-and-Divorcees –and-Anyone-Else-Not-Forgiven-Like-We-Are-Speaking-in-Church-(Even if they’re wearing a respectable business suit)-Connect -09". That is the name we’re using, isn’t it?

"This is a very large and well coordinated programme. For example, our local Roman Catholic scripture teachers have been undergoing training to equip them to be a part of WYD 2008 since last year."

Shock horror! Voluntary religious education teachers are actually being given training and support? What will those dastardly papists think of next? And how dare they approach the organisation of a major international event in a professional and well coordinated fashion!

"This programme is likely to appear very attractive to our young people, particularly those who are less discerning."

Yep, that’s right. These kids have only been part of our church since early childhood, so there’s every chance Rome’s talons will snatch them away from all they know and love. Especially the kids we think are stupid.

"Clearly the best defence against an inadequate gospel is the true gospel & so I suggest that the best local level response is to innoculate our people as best we may by clearly teaching the Bible. For example, opportunities come at every baptism and Lord’s Supper service. We can also use our small groups and our pulpits to teach clearly on the reformation doctrines and on how to read critically in the light of Biblical truth. I’m sure that we can think of many more ways to get the truth to our people!

There are already some helpful resources out there. "

No, I haven’t made this up: it’s a direct quote. Even more depressing is the fact that the Georges River region is relatively moderate. One can only imagine what the extremists are saying.

The “resources” referred to are prayer (mentioned last) and a whole showbag full of Matthias Media paraphenalia, along with a convenient link to their web site. All told just under a quarter of the document comprises advertising for this company’s wares, and included is the helpful suggestion that people purchase copies of the latest tract-de-jour for a paltry $13.00 a copy (bulk orders only) and give them away. Or else it you can buy a study series which:

"... explores what the Bible tells us about true salvation. The aim of the studies is to learn about how God saves us, why God saves us and what we are saved from. "

Just in case you forget when confronted by the awesome presence of Pope Benny and the World Youth Day Jets, and hey, it’s only $4.95…


I’m no fan of the Pope and his Vatican heavies – but I’ve many Roman Catholic friends with a deep and abiding faith in Jesus who feel the same way. I think it’s appalling that our state government is using public funds to subsidise a religious event which will openly discriminate against, and condemn, vast numbers of people whom God loves passionately. In fact the Pope and his Australian right-hand wingnut Cardinal Pell are probably about as far away from the image of Christ found in the gospels as it’s possible to get. The biggest problem, however, is that sectarian drivel like this shows that the “leaders” of my own church aren’t any better.

But don’t take my word for it. Download a copy of this “confidential” report for yourself by clicking here.


Doorman-Priest said...

So....(have I got this right?).....Catholics aren't truly saved then.

Alcibiades said...

That's the official Anglican position in these parts DP - Catholics (including the Anglican variety) follow a "different Gospel". With appropriate consequences.

Fran said...

Oh my - oh my. Tea is spilled everywhere - the classic "spit-take"moment, but then again, I am nothing but a "dastardly papist", and an American one at that, so what would you expect?

Oh my- you had me laughing very hard with your piercing and witty observations. I mean they made it easy, but you showed great wit here.

But then we come to the end of the post and we must confront that this is such a sad chapter in an already very sad book...

No doubt Jesus weeps over this whole scenario. And I was listening to a podcast of Joan Chittister this morning and she talked about how the church has become like a business, a numbers game.

And what is more antithetical to any Christianity than that?

Anyway, thank you for this brilliant post. The link to the document is not working - are they onto you?

Peace brother!

P.S. Doorman-Priest may be right. I think I am on teetering ground. I suppose getting saved may mean grasping the hem of Mad Priest's cassock or something. Hmmmm...

If I decide to change my blogname (and I will give you credit Alcibaides!) to Dastardly Papist (it is rather appealing to me and appropriate as well!) DP and I will have to share initials!!

Brian R said...

Like you I have no time for benny or his predecessor and will stay well away from WYD (well I will be 64 so no longer a youth anyway:-))
However when I found myself rejected by Sydney Evangelicals for my gay orientation, I was lucky enough to be teaching in Catholic schools. The acceptance by ordinary brothers and laity and some priests was amazing. I also learnt a lot more about our loving and inclusive God than I had learnt while growing up in Evangelical groups at school and University. I am not sure I would still be a Christian without the time I spent in the Catholic church. I attended for many years and thought of changing but there are some doctrines (papal infallibility is one) which I could not accept. I returned to the Anglican church but missed the much more intelligent preaching of the Catholic church until in God's providence I found my niche in the Anglo-Catholic tradition of St James, King Street.
Surely in this day and age we should be thankful if any young person accepts Christ into their life, whether it be Roman, Anglo, or Baptist flavour.

susan s. said...

Well, even Paranoids have enemies, but Gee Whiz!

Anonymous said...

What a nefarious scheme... inviting everyone.