Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fun with the Articles of Religion

Here's something I stumbled across while preparing for my 6:30 group study of Doctrine and Our Theological Task. Did a bit of Sherlocking, and found some pretty interesting stuff. Wrote the email to a few people I thought would find it interesting, but then thought I'd put it out there for anyone to comment on or bite into.

Hey Jack, John, and Dad
John--another doctrinal dilemma for you. Jack, Grayson may find this interesting--feel free to pass on if you like.
I was looking through my Articles of Religion in prep. for my doctrine study tonight and stumbled across the following, listed after the articles under parentheses that noted that the following "This statement seeks to interpret to our churches in foreign lands Article XXIII of the Articles of Religion. It is a legislative enactment but is not part of the Constitution. (See Judicial Council Decisions No. 41, 176.)"

Then the "pseudo-article" states the following....
"As far as it respects civil affairs we believe it the duty of Christians, and especially of all Christian Ministers, to be subject to the supreme authority of the country where they may reside, and to use all laudable means to enjoin obedience to the powers that be;

I thought it was interesting that in decision 41, they give an historical background of the "pseudo-article" which included the following words as well:

and therefore it is expected that all our Preachers and People, who may be under British or any other Government, will behave themselves as peaceable and orderly subjects."

I can't really find when or under what action we lost that savory bit of language, but apparently it read that way at least until 1947.

I've linked you to the JC decisions below.

JC Decision 41 (1947)

JC Decision 176 (1960)

Interim JC Decision 6 (1968)

I just thought you'd find it pretty interesting. It's been kind of a thorn in the article of confession's side for some time, giving problems to the MEC South and the Civil rights movement as well. In the 1960 decision, the JC is dealing with someone who seemingly opposed a resolution giving support to the "sit-in" protests and other non-violent protests on account of that particular resolution being "against the restrictive rules," which state that no GC shall adopt new standards or doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine." JC found that the above mentioned "thing" was not a constitutional act. I've been thinking about writing a petition that just does away with the "footnote" all-together, being that what it says is rooted in colonialism, that it no longer reflects the character of our global church, perhaps. (Do we want to encourage "obedience to the powers that be" to those living in Zimbabwe or the Congo, or any number of other places under totalitarian rule? Also, the character of what is said is clearly (and more eloquently) stated in Article XVI of the Evangelical United Bretheren, which states:
"We believe civil government derives its just powers from the sovereign God. As Christians we recognize the governments under whose protection we reside and believe such governments should be based on, and be responsible for, the recognition of human rights under God. We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ. We believe it is the duty of Christian citizens to give moral strength and purpose to their respective governments through sober, righteous and godly living." (Italics mine). Sober, righteous, and godly living is a better way to show our respect for a government than "obedience" don't you think? Also, Bretheren seem to leave a caveat there that gov'ts derive their "just" powers from God, not nec. all power--am I reading that truthfully, you think?


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